Grey hair! What a grey topic to write about! The horror at the sight of the first few greys and the first wrinkles is no less frightening than seeing the ghost of yourself!
Gray hair as a sign of weakness
In this fast moving era, grey hair is often associated with slowing down, with weakness, outdatedness, obstinate conformism, with redundancy and many other aspects.
Governments and the general public too considers old age pensions as an extra expense. Whereas their most valuable contributions of experiences, expertise, knowledge and wisdom which could have been considered and leveraged very productively are grossly and sadly ignored. That leads to fear of being sidelined and rejection of the GenX (Above 60).
Hair coloring business
Perhaps, this is the primary reason why hair coloring & grafting, various cosmetic treatments & surgeries became popular and are now multi-billion businesses.
Having said that, we Indians are still better off than the rest of the world. Grey hair, fortunately still commands some respect in this country. After all “I haven’t turned grey just sitting in the sun” (Dhoop mein baal safed nahi kiye hain). Also “Have some respect for his/her grey hair” (Arre, safed baalon ki toh kucch izzat karo)
I remember a western lady client of mine who had arthritis, high blood pressure, heart problems and was also a cancer survivor. She could barely walk, but always moved around with 3 bags – a camera and video bag, snacks bag, umbrella and water bag. It took me an effort to convince her to allow me to help her, which she finally did as she realised she was in a country where age is respected.
Oh, haven’t we all heard stories of the grand old people saving situations with their earthy wisdom and experiences?
Gray hair is wisdom and experience
So, now you could even flaunt your silver streaks as “Wisdom highlights!” – Wisdom you have or not, doesn’t matter, Hahaha!
At 67 years, my 90% grey hair are my prized possessions. I love them and enjoy them. Yes, by accepting my silver streaks as they are, I have set myself free nd also, am self-motivated to do my best, leave behind something worthwhile before my final exit and be an example for others. On a lighter note, the icing on the cake are the compliments and other benefits that come along.
Hiding the truth
I started off with henna using it occasionally as a hi-lighter ever since I was 20.
It was a time when the virtues of henna were being extolled and popularized in a big way. Parlors found an extra lucrative service to offer.
Blissfully unaware of the alchemy happening within me secretly turning my dark tresses into silver streaks, the regular henna saved me the initial shock most people go through.
And of course, later, that shock got diluted and slowly crept over me as resignation along with resentment, when the henna highlighted more and more the greying factor. I started looking like a carrot-head which was so unbecoming! I now started using color.
Reconciling with nature
Be it henna or color, it is, ufffa, such a messy and tedious task. But, those tell-tale greying roots, if not addressed in time, not only look horrid, often, they also reveal the unsuccessful effort of no-compromise with age and its natural process.
Despite my age, am blessed with good health, a very active lifestyle and fairly decent, youthful looks. All my near and dear ones insisted that I color my hair to match my looks. My seniors even threatened to stop working with me as my job required interacting with important delegates. After all, in public life, looks mattered!
I did succumb and colored my hair for some time, until one day, I had an impromptu but important meeting. I had to race against time, immediately get ready and leave. To my horror and chagrin, the me in the mirror teased and chided me for postponing to color the tell-tale grey roots. My regular beautician was not available. Parlors, not yet open.
Oh God! What do I do now? “Nothing, just dress well”, I told myself, & wear some nice accessories to distract attention from the hair but not from the objective of the meeting.
Armed with my Inner Confidence, loads of courage and some self-pep-talk, like “Come on Mina, who cares about that 1 cm silver grey peeping out of your head. After all you know and are good at your work, so keep your guest busy with content. Make it so interesting that he just does not even notice that you even have any hair or not”.
Hahaha, easier said than done. But yes, I actually did it, Mission accomplished, I came out with flying colors.
Triumph of gray hair
This was my most important Hair Day. I decided to give up hair color and flaunt my grey streaks despite the threats from office and mute disapproval of all others. As the color wore off, to my surprise and disgust, my full silver mane started revealing itself.
Yes, it did take time for people and and loads of courage from myself to get used to me ‘the silver-head’. On hindsight, I often recall with amusement, the shocked expressions of some of my friends and many others who saw my silver mane for the first time. Some even suggested I color my hair again. “Are you crazy, why do you want to look so much older?” “Well, now I look like a nice old Maa. So what?” I would laugh and reply bravely.
But the rewards more than compensated the effort.
“You look so good, ur hair suits you”.
“Please have a seat”
“Please let me help you with your bags”
“Please go in front of the line, no need to wait”
“Madam ji, please tell us the secret of you being so active and lively” etc.
Wow! Believe me, now I love my grey hair, my wrinkles and even my bulges.
My Message: Natural is in, the Real You is the best You!
By Mina Tilakraj – travelism expert, inspirational speaker, Inner Power expert. Lives in Mumbai and can take your for a meaningful guided tour of this city.
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