It’s taken a couple of years to get used to not only having gray hair but feeling good about it. My hair is not just gray but in places, it is silver and white. It’s been there, lurking in my roots, for the last twenty years, a generous and unwanted gift from my paternal side. Over the years, I battled my roots with ferocity like other people would use insect repellent to keep away mosquitos, sunscreen to prevent skin cancer or vaccinations to avoid coming down with the plague. Dyeing my hair to combat the gray growing out was necessary.
Until suddenly it wasn’t.
Remember when Carol from the Walking Dead had a gray buzz cut? It wasn’t my favorite look for Melissa McBride. However, as it grew, I watched in fascination as Carol’s personality changed with it. When Sunday nights rolled around and my husband and I watched TWD, I marveled over her short, wavy, gray locks. I admired the emerging strength in a character who not only kicked ass in a post-apocalyptic world but also looked sensational doing it with that shiny silver hair.
All my life, I’ve had dark brown hair with “tinsel” running through it, and when my roots grew out, I was miserably two toned until my next hair appointment, when I’d get my shoulder length hair trimmed and colored again. Watching The Walking Dead, however, I started to fantasize about how great her haircut was, how easy it must be to style Carol’s silver locks.
In 2015, I decided it was time for me to rock my inner Carol. No more $80 hair appointments every six weeks! No more awkward home dye jobs! I had about an inch of gray hair that had grown out when I decided. If Carol could do it, I could too!
It was difficult to let it grow out because it was just so obvious what I was doing. I had a lot of people telling me how “brave” I was. Amy Schumer was right when she said, “I don’t want the word brave used to describe me.”
In June of that year I went to the hairdresser. We discussed what I wanted to do with my hair. She was a fellow TWD fan and when I said, “I want to look like Carol from Walking Dead,” that’s exactly what I left with. She gave me the haircut of my dreams. Since I had grown out so much of the gray, cutting the rest of it off was a no brainer. (zombies. No brainer. See what I did there?) It was so light! So pretty! Hardly anything to wash and so fun to style! (Also, where did that double chin come from? And has the back of my neck always looked like a package of hot dogs?)
We went to Florida the next month where I could try out my new pixie cut. I adored it. I squeed over the steely silver color. I loved the waves I could style. I loved the little clips I could use. I loved the freedom. For once, I was trending—well, at least my hair color was. I told my hairdresser later that it was the best vacation I have ever had, all because of that haircut. She understood completely.
Recently I’ve let it grow out a bit. And since that transformation, it’s gotten more and more silver. It does look like I have ribbons of tinsel running through my hair. Mother Nature has given me highlights and curls and I love it. I also love paying for just a haircut now as opposed to dyeing it. If I scrunch it it’s wild and curly and very shiny. I love all things that sparkle and glitter, so it fits right into my personality.
But sometimes my hair does make me feel older.
Case in point. I was in Walmart and a toy I wanted to get was out of stock. A young male associate told me he’d check in the back. I stood there for a minute when I heard his voice. I rounded the corner and he was about 100 feet away from me describing what he was looking for to a fellow associate, and that I’d be easy to find, because I was—and these words are hard to type—“the older lady with the frizzy gray hair standing by the toys.”
I looked around for a little old lady for a second before it hit me with the force of a thousand knitting needles that he was talking about me. Me, the sassy silver vision with the devil may care curls that were gleaming and sparkly and glowed in the sunlight? I’m the older lady with the gray frizzy hair? The “older lady” who in a post-apocalyptic world would be one of the last standing, with a light blue cardigan and a tray of delicious cookies?
He threw the requested toy in my cart. I thanked him and plotted tying him to a tree so that the monsters could eat him up. This upstart had no idea who he was messing with or what I was capable of. My chin went up as I headed out of the store.
As I went up to pay for the toy, I passed a rack of cardigans and throw a purple one in the cart because you know who wears cardigans other than Carol from the Walking Dead?
A silvery, sparkly, shiny unicorn.