In the first world problems scheme of things, next to the dilemma of my lying pants, is the problem of my hair.
The question is: Is there a politics of coloring your hair?
Here is my concern: I worry that if I color my hair I will be buying into a culture that denies the reality of aging and death. The glorification of youth in popular and consumer culture suggests that the physical signs of aging are both ugly and unhealthy. We are thus encouraged to take all steps necessary to avoid succumbing to the inevitable: time. We are sold flesh-eating makeup, cosmetic surgery, Spanx, and, of course, hair dye to help us reverse the clock.
But, the thing is, we cannot stay young. We will get older, and we will die. Unless you are reading this while driving your car or stepping in front of a bus, that is guaranteed. Any culture that tries to deny the reality of that truth is not just deluded, but cruel. Because you can't win! You cannot look 27 forever. You cannot look 40 forever. Pity the poor person who tries to win that game.
About a year ago, I remember seeing this commercial with Raquel Welch, who is in her seventies, but has had so much work done that she looks thirty. I said to my kids: Who do you think is older, me or her? No question: her. But I couldn't help thinking: How are her knees holding up? How about her hip? After all, you can fool my children, but you can't fool your colon. What kind of fool's errand is it to try?
So, I think, I have an obligation to let my hair go gray as a sort of prophetic act. I want people to look at me and say: "That lady is getting old. That lady will die. Ah! So will I!"
But, you see, I am conflicted: Because what I just wrote is fricking crazy! Who wants people to look at them and think: "Wow! That lady is getting old! We're ALL GOING TO DIE!" Can you imagine me at Halloween? I'd be the house all the parents would say, "Oh, don't go there, Johnny. That old lady will suck your soul out and use it to pomade her scraggly gray hair."
And here's another thing: while I dig the groovy streaks of silver that are starting to frame my face, I'm not so keen on the general lack of luster that the mousy brown predominance of my hair possesses. It's dull looking. It would look better if it was kind of...golden, as in chemically enhanced. And looking better sounds appealing (see my previous post). After all, it is my body and my one life: Shouldn't I be able to have golden hair if I want to? As postmodern feminist, isn't that my right?
By the way: Look at that picture! Talk about your crazy prophets of doom! My eye looks like its ready to curdle you. Don't get me started on my eyes.