A few years ago, I bought a cheap, silvery wig on Amazon for $13. I hoped to get a glimpse of how I might look with gray hair, which I’d been coloring since my late twenties.
For years, everybody I knew had warned me off growing my hair out gray. Your skin’s the wrong color. You’ll look OLD.
What does OLD even mean? According to whom? WTF!!!??
But really, my secret question was: who is hiding under my dyed brown hair?
When I glanced at myself in store windows, I saw an aging woman who dyed her hair, one of legions I see as I navigate the city.
The wig effected an insta-change from brunette to gray that was amazingly fun, silly, illuminating. I took selfies, having learned from my wise former-assistant-now-famous-tattoo artist Mira Keras that selfies can be a way to explore how you look, and become comfortable with it. Wigs and selfies became an illuminating form of play…
But beyond that afternoon fooling around with a silvery cosplay wig, I didn’t think much more about the wig experiment. Until about six months later, when I found myself sitting in my colorist’s chair saying “I want to go gray”. YES, said Rosie with a big smile. I’ll help you. (Not your usual colorist’s response, because colorist’s are in the business of…coloring).
My wig-vision had been quietly working in the background. Unbeknownst to me, it was the first tangible step in a big change.
I started by not doing anything: not coloring my hair, just waiting as it began to grow out…and not worrying about it…just…being. It was curiously exhilarating. When the white roots appeared, I asked Rosie to paint in lowlights and highlights (dark and light streaks) to break up the “skunk stripe” into messy multi-toned cheveux that I mostly wore up.
Gradually, a new self emerged. Older-looking for sure… because I am older….and also definitely righter, realer…
The simple lesson: we’re changing all the time…aging, growing, learning, finding new ways to be…