The Freedom of Aging: Acceptance

I am about six months away from a major birthday. Forty was fabulous; I freaked out at fifty; and now I’m staring at sixty. 

The Culture of Aging

The American culture is devoted to youth and perceived perfection.  It is an inevitable fact that at some point this earthly vessel will wither and die. So isn’t it a show of honor to the life we have been given to accept, relax and enjoy the journey? Now before any of you are tempted to jump on a soapbox, I am not talking about letting one’s health go to hell in a hand-basket filled with fried chicken, pizza and hamburgers. We should all take the best care possible of our bodies. Eat in moderation, be physically active, and keep our brain and spirit active as well. I’m advocating a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order for the outward appearance of the physical wear and tear on our bodies. Face it, the folks advertising anti aging anything do not have your best interest in mind. They are looking to make money from your fear. We have been given a gift, and I was taught to always say thank you and cherish what has been given to me. 

My Crowning Jewel

Ahhh….my hair. The one physical attribute that I have loved, cherished and obsessed over my entire life. As a third grader I desperately wanted a pixie. I have no recollection of why, probably because my best friend from the third through fifth grade had shorter hair. No amount of pleading with my mom could make it happen. Next I tried asking for bangs. Still the answer was no. My hair and how it was styled took on a whole new meaning in the my life. It represented power. 

Having a drop of Chinese blood in me is the genetic marker I associate with the appearance of my hair. It may not be true, but I’m sticking with the theory. My mom has told me stories of trying to comb out my hair after a shampoo and how I screamed and cried through it all. About once a year she would trim the ends, but that is as close as I ever got to a hair cut. I was stuck with long, thick, straight hair. By the time the early seventies rolled around and I was in junior high, my hair had become my crowning jewel. While friends with wavy hair were using giant rollers or ironing their hair, mine was wash and go fabulous. The length might vary from waist length to just below the shoulders, but that is as close to short hair as I ever got…until the spring of 1976.

I was a senior in high school, eighteen years old, had a job, money, and access to a car. After senior pictures were taken I took the first bold step of my fledging adult life. In one short trip to the JC Penney hair salon I discovered a kind of power I would never relinquish. Fortunately for all concerned I do not have photographic documentation of this step. It lives on only in my mind. The act was far more impressive than the hair cut itself. 

For over forty years my hair has still been the place where I exert control and authority in my life. When I perceive someone or something is trying to control me…I change my hair. Need a change in persona? Color the hair. Now that I am planning for the decade of being stunningly sixty, it is time for my hair to represent who I am today. I remember Vivian Vance (Ethel Mertz from I Love Lucy) telling Johnny Carson one time that the secret to her looking ageless is that she never dramatically changed her hairstyle. That clearly has not been my philosophy, until now. Ageless isn’t the goal, authenticity is. 

For ten years I have said that when I turn sixty I’m going to stop coloring my hair. I’m not even sure what my real hair color is. I know there is some gray up there, but that is about the extent of my knowledge. At my current length and rate of growth it will probably take almost six months to have all natural hair again. This coincides perfectly with my birthday. I am ready to embrace reality instead of covering it up. This place in life can only come by paying the dues and doing the time. I am reaping the rewards of many years of life; some of it good, some not so good. So, if these good things come with age, who am I to deny it or hide it? It is time to embrace the freedom of aging. Unlike when I was fifty and I thought I could trick the world into thinking I was younger, I now know better. One look at my neck or hands and it no longer matters what color my hair is…I’m no kid anymore. 

My Hair And Life Lessons

Like everything else in life there are lessons that can be learned from my hair journey. Here are mine.

  • A hairstylist can make or break the next six weeks of your life…choose wisely.
  • There are very few things that a little time and really good product can’t solve. 
  • Hair grows out, life moves forward.
  • You are never too old for a pixie!

Until next time….


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