Real Israel: Gray matters

How I learned to hold my head up high and act my age

June 13, 2013 13:45
4 minute read.
CROWNING GLORY. If silver hair is good enough for the British Queen, it’s good enough for me

CROWNING GLORY Queen521. (photo credit: Reuters)

Long ago I stopped showing my age and began flaunting it, but for some reason it only recently caught up with me.

Twice within a month a stranger has asked me about my hair color. All over the world people waiting in line for a bus or train sum each other up, and in recent years – to my disgust – comment on the appearance of fellow travelers via the social media; In Israel, strangers are not reticent about making the remarks out loud to a person’s (sometimes red) face.

Hence, it did not faze me that two women I had never met before and whose names I do not know both thought to ask me about my hair: One asked outright why I don’t color it and the other complimented me on the natural silver sheen.

As chance would have it, just after the first woman judged me to be an imperfect stranger, I heard a radio commercial for a solution for those very bad hair days when the roots show in a ring which has a color of its own.

The ad itself is over the top but cute: One woman asks the other about a character called Miri. Miri is a Oscarwinning, world chess champion, hitech millionairess, but the second lady doesn’t recall her until reminded: “Miri... with white roots.”

Despite all her accomplishments, this is what makes the fictional Miri memorable.

It is a phenomenon I dread. It would have me pulling out my you know what.

I would rather show my true colors than be seen to be carrying out an unsuccessful cover-up. And my true colors are those of someone who is unlikely to keep up with anything other than my natural look.

I MIGHT BE considered a dye-hard case. The only time I tried to color my hair, I was in my mid-20s and the result was not a pretty sight. Funny, but not pretty.

I intended to follow the instructions on the packet of henna (the cheap Middle Eastern solution for an image change) but at the critical moment the phone rang and I became engrossed in a long conversation.

At the end of the call, I spent more time on a clean-up effort trying to get the red color off the phone (which should have served as a warning signal) and it wasn’t until I went to rinse the gunge from my hair – after more than 40 minutes beyond the recommended time – that I realized that I had three options: Curl up and dye, using professional help; get used to being called by the common Hebrew nickname “Gingy”; or shave my hair off completely and come up with a bald-faced lie.

My views on hair coloring were also tinted by a mistake made by my aunt.

Call it inhairited wisdom. Spending the summer in Haifa, she carefully explained to the hairdresser the shades and quantities she was used to in England.

What they both overlooked was the fact that the Israeli hairdresser worked according to metric measures while she was used to the Imperial measures still common in Britain in the days when hairdressers were still called hairdressers and not designers.

The hair-raising result was eggplantcolored locks that toned down only after several dips in the Mediterranean and a lot of exposure to Israeli summer sunshine.

Fortunately, my aunt was blessed with a sense of the ridiculous and she was the first to exploit her experience of being stranded the color purple as a lesson in life. Later on, she dropped all pretenses and held her head up high, a shining example to us all.

PERHAPS THERE are other root causes to my defiance of fashion dictates.

With age has come a certain wisdom.

I can’t hide from who I am inside or out and I know that I’m the type of person who, if, I start coloring, will have my roots running rings around me.

Living for the hair and now, I have decided the time has come to turn my 50s shades of gray into a fashion statement, to see the silver lining, as it were.

Why is golden hair considered the fairy-tale ideal, while silver is the older ugly stepsister? How is it that gray hair is considered sophisticated for a man but lowly for a woman? The time has come for an image change – not for me; for my hair color.

It’s time for silver hair to come of age and turn into the mane attraction.

Altogether, women need to have more confidence from top to bottom – or, to use the titles of women writers with a flair for flaunting our particular human failings from Nora Ephron’s I feel bad about my neck to Arabella Weir’s Does my bum look big in this? I am happy to stop acting someone else’s age and display my own maturity.

Join me in a breath of fresh (h)air. I’m only doing what comes naturally but it seems I’m still ahead of the times.

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