Right around March 1, 2020 I colored my hair for the last time. It wasn’t planned. I have been coloring my own hair for so many years now I can’t even remember when I first started. Fortunately because my hair was light brown to begin with, when gray started showing up back in my 40s it was easy to just go with lighter hair color—out of the box. I liked the way it looked, was pretty easy to do, and didn’t cost much. Why not? Then COVID 19 hit. About six weeks later when I would normally recolor it, I paused. Was it necessary to bother at all, at least until the pandemic was over? Now, 12 months later I am completely gray. With one vaccine shot in my arm and things looking better, the question is coming up again: Do I want to stay gray or go back to blond? Perhaps more importantly are the questions behind that question: Does gray hair automatically mean I look old? If yes, then what is wrong with looking older anyway—especially when I sort of am?
Since turning 60 a couple of years ago, my interest in aging well and happy has ramped up considerably. For the longest time, I claimed that I was middle-aged and for some ridiculous reason felt that I would stay at that stage of life for decades to come. But something in me switched at 60 and the midlife label no longer felt true. The problem was, calling myself a senior or old person didn’t fit either. Since then I’ve been thinking, talking and writing about the process of aging from all sorts of angles. Surprisingly, something that is becoming more and more clear to me is that most of us hold a lot of bogus ideas about what aging means. And while I’m not usually one to use profanity, the term B.S. applies to a number of those erroneously held beliefs. [Read more…]