Youth

I used to be a brunette.  I once had long, silky, nearly black hair. It was my best feature, but that was twenty years and two children ago. Back then I was proud of my hair, and I still enjoy how heavy and thick it is, but the color has faded. Okay, that is putting mildly what has happened to my hair color. It isn’t even gray; it has become white, like a polar bear’s hair. As if that weren’t enough of a blow to my ego, the other part of my hair is fading as well. It’s no longer rich and dark, like Kim Kardashian’s or Catherine Zeta-Jones’s hair. It has faded to a nondescript brown, still on the dark side—I like that—but no longer the deep brunette that once set off my fair skin so well. Sometimes that makes me sad, but I try to remember that the changes I am going through are normal. They are part of growing older. I have had to change my routine in some ways, however. With my gray/white hair, I have to be careful not to leave the house not wearing lipstick or wearing white near my face because if I do, I tend to fade away entirely.

What strikes me as ironic about getting older and also about going gray is that we begin losing our hair color at about the same time that we become so much smarter, so much wiser than we once were. Our youth fades, but our experience grows giving us insight into life and into human nature that lights our faces with understanding, compassion, and wisdom. This new light of understanding shines through our eyes, which, by the way, also lighten as we age, as does our skin. That is why allowing our hair to turn its natural color is fitting. I have contemplated dyeing my hair to something close to my original hair color or allowing my stylist to give me “low-lights” to conceal only some of the gray, but each time I do I wonder what it is that I would be hiding.

Why is our culture so biased against people who are aging? Why don’t we value older people, people with graying hair? Society seems obsessed with youth, with celebrity, with perfection. I am not against taking good care of myself. I exercise, eat right most of the time, try to sleep seven to eight hours a day, but I don’t understand this cult of youth that our country seems obsessed with. We tend to look past someone with gray hair as though they are invisible, not the wealth of life experience from which we can learn. We should embrace each gray hair and each wrinkle and ask about the stories behind them. What wonderful things they could teach us about the world or our jobs or about life if we would only listen.

Along with hiding their age with hair dye, many women opt to have plastic surgery to erase the signs of aging from their skin as well as their hair. We see plastic surgery gone wrong all the time. I could name a few lovely women who had plastic surgery and ended up looking like clowns because they had chin implants or cheek implants or one too many facelifts for their own good. What is wrong with wrinkles, crow’s feet, and gray hair? Tell me why women (and some men) would rather look like a caricature of themselves than what God intended us to look like? Why not embrace what age and experience does to our faces and bodies as we find joy in living our lives?

If we intend to look young all our lives, then we fight a losing battle. Youth is a state of mind. It comes from the joyful pursuit of our interests and our passions. That is what we find out later in life after we’ve done some living to carve the laugh lines next to our smiles, the crow’s feet setting off our eyes. We can only hope the love we give is so strong, so white hot that it sears the color right out of our hair, so that we become beings of light from our hair to our skin and eyes and are able to embrace our age and convince others by our example that aging is a thing of beauty and value that should be celebrated rather than ignored.

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