Teri’s Notebook: Introducing a new column photo
I stepped into a convenience store to purchase some incidentals during a trip to Las Vegas this week. The cashier asked to see my ID, and when I handed it over she said, “We like to dye our hair don’t we?’”
“Me?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said. “Your hair in your driver’s license is one color and now you’ve dyed it this color.”
“Oh, I actually stopped dyeing my hair,” I explained.
But it was too late. She and the other cashier were already telling me how damaging it was to change hair colors in such an extreme way. They recommended I just use wigs.
While I likely won’t take their suggestion, it did make me realize it’s time to come clean to my readers — in the form of an updated column photo.
I’ve known it for a while. More than once over the past couple of years I’ve met someone who recognized my name, but said they were confused because I didn’t look like my picture in the paper.
Other than the normal wear and tear of aging (the photo is more than 10 years old by now), I’ve also made the drastic change of growing out my gray hair.
Two years ago this month, I made the decision to stop dyeing my hair. It sounds simple, but it was as dramatic as a decision can be.
I agonized, I researched, I asked everyone I knew for their opinions (I don’t recommend this approach, by the way) and finally decided to just go for it.
And then I waited. After such a big decision, I was ready for a big change. But two years later, I’m still not all the way there.
It’s probably best this way because it’s a lot to take in — and not just for me.
People have a visceral reaction to seeing a woman with silver hair. I’ve been told it makes me look younger. I’ve been told it makes me look at least a decade older.
Some women have called me brave. Some women have told me they value their youth too much to ever consider doing the same.
Some people say it looks sexy. A lot of people tell me I’m too young to have gray hair.
Of all of them, that one stings a little.
I started getting gray hair in high school, and always felt self-conscious about it. For some reason, I have always had a fear of getting older. I remember distinctly turning 10 and feeling like I wasn’t ready for the responsibility of double digits and the feeling of my life speeding by too quickly.
By 25, the gray was becoming more prominent, and I started highlighting my hair to blend it in. Over the next decade, the gray started overpowering my natural brown, so I switched to fully dyeing my hair.
In the past five years, I have had to cover my grays every two weeks.
In the back of my head, I always wondered when would be the appropriate time to reveal to the world the secret I was hiding — that I was completely gray.
When my husband suggested I stop coloring, it seemed ridiculous. But as I’ve spent the last two years letting my natural color shine, I’ve transformed more than my hair.
For such a relatively small change, it has force me to come to terms with society’s standards of beauty and my own limitations around aging.
I actually feel more like myself. And why would I want to cover that up?
Teri Vance is a journalist, freelance writer and native Nevadan. Contact her with column ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.