It was the time of month when my gray roots began to show. Plus, I had to go to the dentist and could imagine what he would think when he looked down at the top of my head, which was practically in his face.
“This babe really needs to get her roots done.”
My hair has its own unique history.
Starting in sixth grade, I used lemon juice to get that kissed-by-the-sun look. When Sun-In came to market, I was thrilled. It’s intensity worked faster than lemon juice ever could and you didn’t even have to wait all year for summer.
Fast forward to college: I did henna, an ancient medicinal plant that's been used as a natural dye for over 4,000 years. The powder is mixed with water and has a "unique" odor. Anyone who came onto the floor of my dorm could tell from the stench that someone was getting their hair henna-d.
In my salad days, aprés-college and early career, I did what everyone did: highlights. It was the easy way to look blonde, without committing to full-blonde.
But the real dye came after my son was born.
While I was still in nursing mode for my first born, my mother said, “Darling, your hair looks sort of mouse-y.”
Mouse-y? Could she have meant mousse-y? I hadn’t been able to wash my hair (let alone shower) for a few days and I did have a lot of mousse on that day.
“Mom, what do you mean?”
“Well, a lot of times after giving birth, a woman will start losing her hair. Other woman’s hair color changes and it looks, well, more brown. Ish. Like yours is getting,” said my mother.
“Maybe she’s right,” I thought in my exhausted state. Box-dye beckoned. I went to the local drugstore and searched for a box with the model wearing brown. But there were so many tones and color levels. When I brought one home and tried doing it myself, it looked horrible.
Result: Mom said she would treat me go to a hair dresser to “fix” it.
Ever since, I’ve been a girl who goes, religiously, to get my hair dyed by a real colorist.
. . .
It was enlightening to read "Ditched the Dye During Covid? Maybe Stay Gray" in The New York Times. "Lots of women had to confront their natural hair color when salons were closed of felt unsafe. Now many are sticking with it -- and joyfully."
For added encouragement, I still turn to the many gray-head groups on Instagram. Some of the hashtags are “graciously gray,” “okaywithgray,” and “gray-ciousme.” There are even ones where you can follow someone on their personal journey, like “nic_went_gray.” (And here, may I take a moment to say “gray” and “grey” is the same, depending on “gray” the more frequent in American English, whereas “grey” is more common in British English.)
Bonni Brodnick is the author of POUND RIDGE PAST, a contributor to HuffPost and Medium, and a former editorial staffer at Condé Nast Glamour and House & Garden. She has written scripts for Children’s Television Workshop, was a weekly newspaper columnist, and editor of two academic mags. Bonni is a member of Pound Ridge Authors Society and has a blog (bonnibrodnick.com). She is also a proud Stroke Survivor.
* Originally published in The Narrative Collection on MEDIUM.