I first noticed them about 5 years ago. They probably numbered one in 10 000, which wasn’t too bad. They simply provided a few minutes’ diversion for my sister or friends when there was nothing better to do.
Now, however, they are a bit more numerous (about one in 1000) and I am being forced to aknowledge them: grey hairs. I know that some of you are casting your minds back to my profile, remembering that I am in my twenties… No, your memory is not failing, I am indeed the ripe old age of 25. My name is Candice, and I am going grey.
My mother was completely grey by the time my sister was born, when she was 34. It seems that I am destined for the same fate. My mother did not accept her silvering with much resignation, though. After an incident on the road which involved a new baby in a car seat, an open window and a road-rage comment of “Stupid old woman,” she began a life-long investment in Loving Care Warm Dark Brown.
I have, due to my mom’s 6-weekly reinvention, always vaguely realised I may one day dye. This awareness can be linked more closely to the realisation of one’s mortality than simply through the weak pun above; we all know intellectually that we are going to die, but one day we feel it viscerally as well. The thought of dye-ing has been similar for me – I have always been aware of hair dye as a possible eventuality but the realisation that it would actually apply to me elicited a similar response as the realisation that I will one day die: horror and denial.
This epiphany occurred when I discovered that the ratio of dark hairs to grey had reduced to 1:1000. Still nothing to kill oneself over, but quite concerning considering that five years ago it was 1:10 000. I have never dyed my hair. Every other twenty-something woman I have ever met has had several shades of locks but I was blessed with a bautiful shade of chocolate coloured tresses which I have no desire to alter in any way. This, of course, makes my grey hairs all the more obvious. The other thing that makes them all the more obvious is the recent power shortage. I can see the puzzle piece not fitting in your mind. How is Eskom to blame for this one? Everyone has changed to power-saving light bulbs. Power saving light bulbs are (contrary to the eco-warrioring marketing) fluorescent. This means that the laws of fluorescent lights apply to them. We all know that in fluorescent light every blemish and stain is visible; so is every grey hair. I am constantly faced with the silvery streaks appearing like stretch marks in my hair. (Do a high school poetry analysis of that description and you will work out how I feel about the greys.)
I have done some research on grey-haired icons but despite the statuesque beauty of women like Jackie Burger, editor of SA Elle and Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada I don’t really want to be grey before I have got married, had a baby or a mid-life crisis. And I am the crisis type; I had a crisis when I turned 25 because I really have not achieved what I thought I would when I was 16. I was going to follow in the footsteps of Khanyi Dlomo and be the eidtor of a major magazine by 22 and here I am: the extent of my stellar journalistic career is writing this blog. I do fancy myself as a silver-haired fiftyish powerhouse but I am honestly struggling to adjust this sentence to silver-haired thirtyish mom.
I think that it is probably a good thing that I have started to engage with this issue now while there are still 1000 dark hairs to every grey one, rather than the other way round. I am sure that I will have worked through it by the time I need to decide whether to go Jackie or buy shares in Clairol. Until that, though, I will take comfort in a recent piece of information I gleaned from a magazine: The idea that for every grey hair you pull out, another five grow, is an old wives’ tale. The worst you can do is damage the hair follicle so badly that no hair will grow from it again, risking baldness. I think I’ll take my chances with the baldness until the mid-life crisis and let my sister and friends fill boring moments by searching for, and yanking out, those greys.