"You have a gray hair," she stated. Right in the middle of class. For everyone to hear. As a pimply, braces-wearing seventh grader, the last thing I wanted was to be different. Was it not punishment enough that I sported sweatpants as a fashion statement on the daily, was on the C-team in basketball, never made the cheerleading squad, and had an uncontrollable chapstick addiction?
Sure enough, as someone held a Cover Girl powder compact up to my face, I saw a single Cindy Lou Who-esque strand of gray was standing at attention atop my head. Without thinking, I yanked it out.
She couldn't have known, but at that moment an obsession began.
Friends (and my unfortunate younger brother) would regularly comb through my hair with a pair of tweezers in search of salty colored streaks to pluck. Finding a gray hair was the highest victory; unfortunately as time passed, locating the wiry strands became much less difficult a task.
I dyed my hair for the first time on a whim one day during the Summer before junior year when I caught a group of my friends cruising around town without me. In a lame effort to show them (or myself) how much fun I could have alone, I haphazardly covered my noggin with goop. A shade best described as 'exit sign orange' is what I ended up with. My mom was horrified and immediately sent me to Walgreens for a repair kit. I sobbed as the dye stung my head, positive all my hair would fall out, and not certain I didn't want it to.
Throughout the next ten years, I dyed my hair most every shade of chocolate brown imaginable and during my hardcore phase, I opted for true black. But every 4 - 6 weeks, as the color grew out, I could see just how much gray hair I was masking under the boxes upon boxes of L'Oreal Preference.
To be 100% truthful, it made me incredibly self-conscious. I had this idea imbedded in my mind that I was not a beautiful person because of my gray hair. Coloring my hair was an expensive and time consuming security blanket I couldn't live without.
I stumbled a upon this article one day, which planted the seed to quit dyeing. I read it over and over, attempting to talk myself into letting the gray grow out. With the continued encouragement of friends and family, I took the plunge. It was a very anti-climactic plunge as my hair grows at a painfully slow rate. Lucky for me the growth pattern is actually quite lovely, much of the white is concentrated around my temples and takes on a blonde shade at the tips. Most people actually mistake it for a professional color.
To date, I have not colored my hair since Winter 2012 which means every single strand of hair on my head is its natural color. Perhaps a silly achievement in the grand scheme of life, but it is a major fete in the ongoing battle to feel confident in my own skin.
And you know what's funny? I have never loved my hair more.
shirt | loft // jacket | bcbgeneration // jeans | urban outfitters // boots | dsw // necklace | j crew