When I was a teenager, along with my “I don’t shave and never will” credo, I decided that I would embrace grey hair when it came to me. I was very into being natural and embracing natural things. I looked at women with grey hair–even women with prematurely grey hair–and I admired them for their gusto and their bravery. I found them beautiful because they embraced the natural transition of their life as shown through their hair.
My mom started “highlighting” her hair in the 80s, presumably to hide greys. She was–oh my gosh–MY AGE in the early 80s, just when I was–oh my gosh–my older son’s age. Okay, that’s insane. She started highlighting her hair when she was about my age, which should come as no surprise to me because I got my first grey hair five years ago. I was 31.
I remember the moment I found it. I was in Israel, staying with my family, right near the parking lot on the yishuv my family lives on in the West Bank. It was a stressful time for my family. It was a hard time for all of us. I found one long sparkling grey in the parking lot on the right side of my head, visible below my shoulder (pre-What Not To Wear, my hair fell, naturally, halfway down my back).
I didn’t pluck it out. I left it, and was grateful that I was no longer an actress (pre-The Big Bang Theory, I was a graduate student and mom and had left the industry after completing five years on Blossom for 12 years!) since actresses can’t get grey and can’t do much of anything natural it seemed to me. I guess that’s funny to consider now, since not even two years after I found the grey, I was acting again.
The greys did not multiply much at first. I would find one here and there, but it wasn’t until the past few years that I have found a few more than a few. They are still fairly sparse, and my hair has a lot of gold in it anyway, so sometimes it’s hard to find the greys among the golden. My hair stylist on The Big Bang Theory smiled gently at the end of last season when one kept poking up underneath my character’s signature hair clip, and she told me in her thick irish brogue that “we can handle those, love” when the time comes.
I admit now that I have plucked a few of those greys out, and they don’t seem to grow back curly or more numerous. They just seem to go away for a short time and return again to defy me and mock me.
Being an actress again means my wishes of beautiful grey-dom may not be an immediate reality. Just as I longed to dye my hair brilliant colors in my rebellious and quirky youth but had to wait until Blossom ended for me to indulge in that expression of my individuality, I may have to wait until this phase of my acting career is over to embrace my individuality of my desire to be a natural greying woman.
I will hold out as long as I can to “handle those.” That’s the plan for now.
I envy men who, as a sex, are culturally more accepted when they go grey. I envy women with thick grey hair that reveals shades of grey. And no: I am not referring to the porn novels Shades of Grey, people. I’m talking about the depth and the complexity of grey that exists, both literally and conceptually.
I wish women who didn’t have jobs like mine–where we “can’t” go grey–would go grey. I wish we didn’t have a stigma around it. I wish we didn’t have a culture that has taught women to say they are making a feminist act of “choosing” to not go grey, rather than teaching women that they don’t have to keep up with the hair of women who are not yet 30. I wish women felt that maturing and having a body and a face and even hair that shows our age is not a bad thing. It’s a natural thing. It’s okay.
Until all of those wishes come true, I will wait. I will listen as my friends complain about how expensive and chemically stinky it is to dye their hair and get highlights. And who knows? Maybe when the time presents itself, I won’t go grey. Maybe I will do what I did after Blossom ended: magenta. And then green. And then fiery red. And back to magenta. And so on.
I guess that for me, that may just be what comes naturally.