WYSIWYG–Welcoming my real hair color

0501131457aWYSIWYG: What you see is what you get. More than a computer term, it is a human term for how we determine the worth of ourselves and of others. Some may argue that this is truer for women than men, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog!

I’ve been coloring my hair since my thirties when gray hair started creeping in. Besides, I was approaching that birthday we all dread–the big 40–and needed something different, new, and exciting. Lesson learned: once you start, it’s really hard to stop.

I love to put my best foot forward–clad in just the right pair of shoes, of course. I like to be stylish in a just-off-the-center sort of way. I enjoy clothes, hairdos, makeup, jewelry, and purses (how many are in your closet?). Unless I’m on a backwoods camping trip or in the hospital with two broken arms, part of my everyday routine is doing my hair and putting on makeup–don’t leave home without it!

But do you know how much money it costs to color your hair, even if you do it yourself? (Believe me when I tell you, it looks a lot better when a professional does it.) And I want it to look natural, so I want highlights and lowlights. I haven’t tried to figure out the numbers–I really don’t want to, so please don’t help me out on this one.

Natural–did you notice that word? There is no hint of natural in what I have described above. I want the modified me, the carefully made-up me, to be what people see. After all people believe WYSIWYG, and I want them to think, “WOW! Do you see what I see? Woohoo!”

Nothing wrong with that in my book. But it can go too far, and at what cost?

For years I’ve been playing with the idea of letting the world see my real hair color, but my resolve always faded when I looked in the mirror. Why? Because of how all of you would react to little old me (emphasis on old). Read through the situations below and think about whether or not your reactions would be the same if the person named was young or was a senior citizen with gray hair.

  • They take a little longer at the checkout counter than you would like.
  • They drive cautiously.
  • They walk down the street. (You don’t hear too many wolf whistles, do you?)
  • They put on their glasses so they can see the fine print on the menu.
  • They go sightseeing together–gray hairs on a bus.
  • They come in for a job interview.

So, “letting my hair go” means a lot more to me than a color. It means acceptance of myself as I am right now.

Acceptance that this is the best I will look for the rest of my life unless you’re into wrinkles, sun spots, and canes.

Acceptance that what I look like is not who I am, and it’s okay that only those who know me well actually notice.

Don’t worry. I intend to continue to wear make-up and dress well. But, as the poem says:

“When I am old, I shall wear purple, with a red hat that doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me …”  

Why on earth would I ever want to do that? To flaunt convention? Perhaps.

But the real answer is, WYDSIWYG: What you DON’T see is what you get.

And I’m okay with that.

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