The Silver (Haired) Lining

A photo of Julie with long brown hair
Me, in curly-headed, brown-haired glory a few years ago.

Around this time last year, at the tender age of 39, I had to admit defeat in my battle against gray hair. I was at the point where even coloring my hair every 5-6 weeks wasn’t enough to keep me from having the dreaded silver stripe down my part. For a while, a little voice had been whispering “go natural, go natural,” but it’s surprising how many louder voices drowned it out for a while. It will age you. People will think your kids are your grandkids. What will your husband think? Color isn’t as toxic as it used to be. Just keep doing it.

But I’m sort of stubborn, and so is that little voice. So I talked to my stylist and came up with a plan. For a few dying cycles, he did progressively lighter shades of my natural brown to see if that would help with the white stripe at my part & although it did, it was still bugging me.

photo of Julie with dyed hair
The last dye job. January 2015

I knew we were moving back to the states in December, but to a place where I didn’t know anyone. I was never going to have a better time to transition. So I chopped my hair off in late September and stopped dying it soon thereafter.

By February, I had enough root growth to cut the rest of the color off into an ultra-shot pixie. The lady in the chair next to me at the salon, who was more than ten years older than I am, made sure to comment on how brave I was, while mentioning that she could never do it herself in the same breath.

I’d like to say that I don’t know what the big deal is. But I do. Women are still judged so much for how they look, how they “keep themselves up” and I think deep down there is a belief that looking older might somehow make you feel older too. Well, it doesn’t. I’m 40 and I have gray hair. Big deal. I still want to be Peter Pan when I (never) grow up. I still write kids books, color in coloring books, and make mud pies in the garden. I still act like the child that I am on the inside. Just ask my kids. And my husband hasn’t left me for a 25-year-old (or a 40-year-old trying to look like a 25-year-old). Probably because he knows I’d put a hex on him if he did.

A photo of Julie Artz
Photo (c) Gail Werner

The good news is that I can just pretend I’m on the cutting edge of fashion as starlets the world over embrace gray hair. Before you get too excited about us making progress toward stamping out this little bit of ageism in the fashion world, though, the trend is called “the granny look.” Well, I guess I always wanted to be Granny Weatherwax anyway.

Anyhow, my Mom, new hairdresser, & bff loved the pixie. I didn’t, so I’ve been letting it grow ever since. Almost a year later, the curls I had to chop off are coming back and my hair is just barely long enough to tuck behind my ears. And it’s as silver as the summer day is long, with only a hint of brown left along my neckline.

I don’t think it makes me look older. Or maybe I just don’t care any more.

2 thoughts on “The Silver (Haired) Lining

  1. Woot! I love all your looks, Julie! I’m still highlighting to “disguise the gray” at 45, but there’s more gray all the time. (Can I please blame it on the kids? Or on literary agents?) But I’m glad to know how to gracefully make the transition when it comes!


  2. As one who is (gulp) 15 years older than you, I have never given in to the “color the gray” culture. I still have a lot of brown, but the gray is starting to creep in. I love the look on you, you still look youthful, and like my husband tells me, gray is just a color, the same as age is just a number. Embrace it, enjoy it, rock it!! Love from your cousin!

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