A woman sidled up to me as I arrived at work one morning. “Have you seen Mona? You have to see Mona!” she said, excitedly. I find Mona. She has dyed her hair brown. Again.
Mona had spent such a long time growing out the dull, dye-damaged hair, until finally her natural gray had reached shoulder length, silver strands swirling down in shiny waves. It was quite flattering. And I had told her so.
Someone said of Mona’s newly dyed do, “Isn’t it beautiful?!” then turned to me and said, “You should dye your hair. It would make you look fifteen years younger!” I forced a smile, and replied “I liked her gray.” Several others gathered around and gushed that that it took years off. And it did. Mona smiled sheepishly and said it was easier to take care of her natural hair, but her husband wanted her to dye it. “He probably wants me to look like some young chick,” she said.
The young woman who sits next to me, an attractive brunette, plagued with migraines and body aches, told me she’s been undergoing tests. They find nothing. But she is convinced that the breast implants her former boyfriend wanted her to have, and bought for her seven years ago, are making her sick.
A childhood friend spent a good chunk of her savings last year on a face lift. She is not happy with the outcome. Others I know well, have suffered fingernail fungus from acrylic nails, eye infections from tinted contacts, and permanent hair loss from chemical dyes.
I matured in a brief era of self acceptance. Late 60’s, Early 70’s. Hair was allowed to coil, curl, frizz, and “fro” freely. Young women were reading “Our Bodies, Ourselves” and shedding their bras. And size didn’t matter quite as much.
I am aging now in a culture that reveres youth. I’ve never dyed my graying hair. I haven’t bolstered my breasts, or tucked my tummy. I haven’t lifted my wrinkling face, altered my hooded eyes, or trimmed my turkeying neck. I am sagging and silvering. I present myself as well as I know how. And that’s all I choose to do.
I keep hoping there will be another revolt. Women will jolt awake, embrace and celebrate their true selves, au naturel. Of course, there would be collateral damage; devastating losses to companies selling implants, hair dye, cosmetics, and tinted contacts. And let’s not forget the despair of husbands who want their old wives to look like young chicks.
By Pat Bonner Milone – Redland, Florida