To Southern women, our hair is our Crowning Glory…So, it’s a big decision whenever we start to go grey…for redheads or blondes, the decision is not so dramatic- it’s just silver threads among the gold or copper! For brunettes, it can be quite traumatic. Take me for instance…from childhood, my hair was as close to black as you could get and my eyes are this weird shade of green- very light, sort of chartreuse or lizard green…My great aunt Trix- exclaimed regularly…‘Isn’t she unusual?‘ and I never ever thought she meant that in a good way.
When the grey hairs started coming in more regularly than I thought was necessary…a decision had to be made. Dark hair and dark eyes are a better aging combo than dark hair and light eyes…we start looking washed out. And who wants to look washed out? That’s tantamount to looking washed up. In the South- looking washed out is almost as scary as that Ptomaine Poisoning our mothers were always telling us we would get if we ate at uninspected places. First, I followed my grandmother’s ancient advice- ‘If you look bad, get a permanent wave.’ I guess I thought if the grey hairs were coiled up tight with the others they wouldn’t be so noticeable- not true.
So amid the unsolicited advice- ‘Get that hair dyed’…and solicited advice from my beauty operator- ‘let’s put a few streaks in it’; I began the transition. I went lighter, had a few streaks put in, I looked like a blonde polecat. Back to the bottle again. When my book was published I was in the frame of mind to look as young as I could. I told the hairdresser to just do it a little lighter than my natural color which was dark brown. Dyed dark brown hair color was a pure vanity decision for the book cover. Soon, reality sank in, I was dealing with roots. Now, Southerners have an unnatural fascination with our ancestors- our roots…however roots near your scalp isn’t pretty. We may want to know who your people are, but we don’t care whether your string of pearls is real or cultured; nor whether your hair is natural or dyed. The main thing is, Southern girls want to be cultured and real pretty, especially when it comes to our Crowning Glory.
Next- I had a semi-permanent wrench put on it, and I sat for hours with R2D2 foil squares, the pole cat look returned. I started looking in magazines and online, a good many famous people- namely movie stars of a certain age…were going naturally grey. Emmie Lou Harris, Linda Evans, Pierce Brosnan, Jamie Lee Curtis, Helen Mirren, Anderson Cooper, Diane Keaton, Ali MacGraw and who can forget Meryl Streep’s silver locks?
Of course we all know that men get ‘distinguished looking’ with grey hair- I don’t hear those same sentiments about women’s grey hair. To my surprise, there were articles written about ‘grey being the new black’ with stunning examples.
Then, a blogger I truly admire- Vicki Archer, of French Essence-beautifully let her readers know of her decision to go grey. Something clicked when I read her article. I too, was going to go grey. Now, I certainly didn’t want folks to say- ‘well, she’s really let herself go’ or ‘bless her heart she sure has aged’ or ‘she needs to dye that hair’…after all a woman’s hair is her Crowning Glory- it’s biblical. Following the hairdresser’s suggestions, she warned me it would take a long time, I said I was prepared or thought I was. A local magazine called and wanted to do a story on my book- I could hardly have a photograph done with ‘roots’ showing! I listened to the ancient voices in my head…‘Once a woman gets a certain age- she can’t wear long stringy hair’…I had a semi-permanent wrench put on and as you can see, I had my hair cut it as short as possible! After over two years…I am finally natural again, I also decided that I missed my hair having a little length to it. When I started blogging the advice was to use a professional photograph, the book cover photograph was the only one I had…but really Darlin’ I need to update-
It’s not a professional photograph and who knows if I will ever figure out how to change it across all media- but I’m going for ‘truth in advertising’. And I’m gon’ try to keep some color on my face, lipstick on my lips and remember that a smile is the best face-lift. I may be too old to successfully flirt, but can always flatter. I know I’ll never get tired of hearing or telling funny stories. The pearls might not always be real, but you can never have too much culture. No matter what color it is or how it got that way-A woman’s hair truly is her Crowning Glory. For me- Salt and Pepper is the Spice of Life!
Love y’all, Camellia