My journey to blonde started two months ago, as did my apparent descent into pre-aging neurosis if you pay any mind to the naysayers who equate drastic changes in hair color with discomfort in the aging process. During my last appointment, Whitney touched up my roots and added a lavender-based permanent color. My hair is white with gray-ish silvery roots that shine in the light.
When you’re 21, people refer to it as platinum blonde. When you’re nearing 40, they call it gray or white. They question why you want to prematurely color your hair white.
A few months ago on my 38th birthday, I posted my thoughts on aging and style. The scholar in me researches the connection between society and the construction of identity and self. This interest bleeds over into fashion and style.
Why do we create symbols — such as manner of dress or hair length — to denote age? Why do preach that there’s a specific state of being that occurs when someone nears middle age.
My mother was the first to say it. She witnessed the transformation at the salon. In front of God and everyone, she announced “I don’t understand why you want to go gray; you’ll regret this when you’re older.”
I doubt it, Mom. I look kinda hot. If this is what I’ll look like at 60, then bring it.
Mom’s comment was the first in a line of admonitions on age-appropriate behavior.
“You’re going to regret it.”
“Women your age wear nude nail polish.”
“It’s a good thing you cut your hair short. You won’t have to worry about when you turn 40.”
“You’re too old to wear bright colors.”
My personal favorite:
“You’re too young to hide in dark colors.”
Will you please make up your minds?
Age isn’t just a number. It’s a social construction based on cultural norms. In other words, age is what society makes it out to be.
As I write this, I’m wearing black nail polish. I would live in black and gray polish. I occasionally wear bold eye makeup, but I don’t really care anymore, opting instead for bold lipstick — frequently in high-fashion avant garde colors.
My fashion tastes are evolving. Not influenced so much by age as by personal preference. I’ve been lurking on minimalist fashion Instagram accounts as of late.
In the past week, I bought a white dress, a black and cream dress, a cream jacket, a black and white swimsuit, and a black coverup. I also purchased a dress with a green leaf pattern — on a black background. Almost everything in my closet is a variation of white, black, navy, and gray.
Essentially, the neutral color palette vomited in my closet.
Neutral colors. Bold lipstick. Dark nails.
I’m not aging well or poorly.
I’m turning into a French woman.
Ooh la la!
Please don’t project your personal hangups of age onto me. I know it’s difficult to imagine someone who is comfortable with aging in our youth-obsessed culture. I’m more concerned that I’m entering middle age without a retirement fund in place than with the number of gray hairs on my head. My laugh lines indicate that I enjoy my life. I’d much rather focus on my character than what’s in my closet and whether or not you approve.
Part of this comfort is born from feeling confident in my own skin.
Fifty is the new 40. Forty became the new 30. We really need to stop this. My college students complain about feeling old. Really? Yes, I hear 20-somethings complain about wrinkles and aging.
What if we all stopped harping on age?
Or became fabulous French women instead.