Silver Belles

Posted by mwallach on December 13, 2011 in My Kids |

Dear That’s Life,

A recent article in Prevention magazine caught my eye. It highlighted the beauty of gray hair, citing the numerous actors and celebrities, men and women alike, who wear their silver with pride, using it as a sign of strength rather than something they wish to cover. Having grown up my entire life with a mom who wore her silver streak with pride, until she decided to dye it, I was rather intrigued. Included in the piece were various hair care products to protect one’s grey, allowing it to shine rather than dull, while there were also tips for the woman who was ready to grow out her silver and let it show. Furthermore, the article highlighted wardrobe tips for the silver haired beauty – who knew earth tones were not ideal for women with gray hair?

Also in the article was a poll taken of readers who dye their hair as to why, after having dyed their hair for so long, they resist going grey. A percentage of responders said they were afraid showing their age would have negative effects on them professionally. Showing how old they really were might endanger their jobs or have some repercussions in the work place. Others said that after dying their hair for so long, they were afraid to see just how grey they really were. The impending shock or realization was enough to keep up the dyeing. And of course, the greatest number of responders said they think they would look older if they stopped. In a world where we slow and hide the aging process as often as we can (think Botox), sitting with a colorist in the salon once a month seems to be the least we can do.

I had not dyed my hair in a while, but not because I was attempting to grow it out. I simply had not been paying attention. Then one day, as I was looking in the mirror, I was instantaneously horrified when I noticed the crop of gray hair growing out of my scalp. Having found my first gray hair when I was 21 (and subsequently bursting out into tears), it did not occur to me I had become that gray. At that moment, it hit me – if I did not dye my hair, I just might be completely gray. With that, I quickly made an appointment at the salon.

There are plenty of cultural factors that have aged me as well. Certain trends which have been out of style are now back. If you hold on to something long enough, someone recently mused, youre bound to see it again. Anything from my childhood that is now “cool” has been deemed “retro,” that label rendering the item “trendy” rather than “ancient.” A year ago, my daughters wanted Keds. Besides remembering how I wore those sneakers throughout middle school and much of high school, I was reminded of how Jennifer Grey wore them in “Dirty Dancing” as well. These shoes had nine lives, as if they had been patiently waiting in the wings for their own resurgence. Nevertheless, watching my kids wear Keds – and hearing the shock in their voices upon hearing that I wore them, too – did nothing good for my ego.

Along the same lines are the flannel shirts I wore for about five years of my life, even the night I got engaged. (Defined as a Classic Miriam moment: flannel shirt, Keds and a diamond ring.) Recently walking into a clothing store for kids, I could not help but notice the numerous flannel shirts on display, ready for purchase in various sizes. I was not tempted to buy even one, remembering just how many I had owned, how I had given them all away and how they could have been resold on Ebay for a mint. The newest craze, however, that really took me by surprise was when my teen asked me for a pair of colored jeans. As an adult I think they are ugly, all the while remembering how cool I thought my violet jeans were, when in retrospect, were a definite fashion faux pas. Not every idea was a good one – maybe that’s why I cannot bring myself to buy her a pair.

Unlike fashion, there are certain toys and games which have existed forever. While my kids have recently requested a Snoopy Snow Cone Machine – an item I certainly would have considered “vintage” – other toys such as the Magic Eight Ball or a Rubix Cube are confirmed classics. Like Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, Monopoly or Othello, I played them as a child and they continue to be current favorites. Newer editions of these games may exist, but so do the originals. If only everything could be baked by the light bulb in a Holly Hobbie Easy Bake oven, life would be a dream.

My son was tinkering with his Rubix Cube the other day, trying to align all of the green squares, struggling to make it work. “Did you play with a Rubix Cube when you were little?” he asked, though the question itself made me sound as though I had full head of silver hair, kept tightly in a bun, with vivid memories of either Roosevelt administration. “No,” I said. “I was the kid who took the stickers off of each cube in order to cheat.”

“But you didn’t like playing with it when you were a kid?” he continued, the Rubix Cube in hand. “Didn’t they have it in 1890?” T’was at this moment that everything in the room seemed to stop while I stared straight, ahead unable to blink. My eldest daughter understood immediately the source of his confusion.

“Don’t you mean 1980?” she asked incredulously. At that moment, everyone burst out in laughter, except for me. I was too busy counting the gray hairs in the mirror.

As Seen in the South Shore Standard Dec ’11

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