The white stuff
Updated: May 5, 2022
I’ve been going gray since my twenties, but things sped up after I had my kids (not blaming you, Princess and Dearest, but if the shoe fits…). Since I hit 50, there’s been a white streak in the front, which Robert, my hairdresser, has wrestled with. Do we make it look like blond streaks? Do we let it be? Do we try to make it gray (totally on-trend) instead of white?
For decades, I’ve colored my hair, which in its natural state, was sort of a dark brown with some red in it, courtesy of my mom, who once had hair the color of an Irish setter. I was in a permanent state of hmmmph, having brown hair, as my sister and mother were regularly told what gorgeous hair they had, how stunning, how beautiful (still bitter much, Higgins?). As an act of rebellion, I colored my hair darker. Medium Golden Brown. 5G, as I recall. A rather boring description. Medium.
But since this summer, I’ve decided to let nature take its course. Same as when I threw away all my Spanx. I am what I am, and I’m gray. White in places. I don’t mind aging, frankly. I mean, sure, there are parts I’d do without. But then I remember Theresa and Melissa and David, friends who never got to hit middle age, and I start to love my gray hair. Several other friends never colored their hair, and were way ahead of the “young people with gray hair” trend. Oh, the money and time they saved! Neither of my grandmothers felt the need to be anything other than what nature intended. My mom’s red has faded to strawberry blond, and I think it’s a shock that her child has more gray that she has. “Are you going to keep it that way?” she’ll ask. “I mean, it’s very pretty! I love it!”
he options were to go blonde. Not for me—I’d spent my life trying to feel that brown hair was just as good as red hair, so blond felt like committing adultery. To have Robert dye it forever, which is not cheap in either time or money, or do a crappy job at home (for which Robert always chastises me).
“I want to go gray,” I told him a few months ago. “I’m either going to shave my head, or you’re going to help me.”
To his credit, he was excited. We are the same age, Robert and I, and he’s gray and very distinguished, you know? Because he’s a man, he gets to be distinguished. Another stylist,
a woman, had told me I’d go back to coloring because gray would age me…but hey. I’m 53. I’m aged already. I don’t want to be 75 years old and have chestnut brown hair. I wouldn’t be fooling anyone.
So I’m salt and pepper now, with a silvery-white streak like new-fallen snow in the moonlight (she said, whipping out her author similes). My daughter says my hair sometimes seems to glow, which I quite like. When the sun hits it, there it all is—every year of my life, every wonderful experience, every sorrow, the map of my life in sparkling, shining, unapologetic evidence. My name is Kristan Higgins. I’m 53 years old, and my hair is turning white.