It was definitely meant to be a compliment, “You’re too young to have grey hair, you NEED to dye it!” she said as she stroked her fingers uninvitedly through my salt and pepper locks. All I could think to say in response was, “If I were too young for grey hair, I wouldn’t have grey hair.” It made us both chuckle. She thought I was nuts. No, I wasn’t offended. Not in the least. I really do get it.
Societal norms dictate that we all must partake in the fountain of youth to be popular, to be liked, to be beautiful.
We watch celebrities pump poison into their own faces, masking their genuine expressions, all in the pursuit of vanity. And yet, the backlash for “going too far” is equally unacceptable as aging naturally would have been. Poor Meg Ryan drank the Kool-Aid, and the headlines broke my heart. “WHAT HAPPENED TO MEG RYAN’S FACE?” they all read. Can you just imagine for a moment, waking up and reading that level of unkindness about yourself? Well I’ll tell you what happened to Meg Ryan’s face. She dared to grow older and she got scared to live in a world where wrinkles and grey hair on a woman are tantamount to crawling in a hole and dying. I have a sneaking suspicion that had she not gotten ANY plastic surgery and allowed herself to age naturally the headline would have read: “WHAT HAPPENED TO MEG RYAN’S FACE?” Because you see, there’s no winning in a world where aging is the ultimate sin.
So by now you may be thinking that I am this ubër confident female who doesn’t mind getting older. And you would be wrong. You don’t know how much I wish that I could have stayed 18 forever. But I didn’t. I’m not 18, or even 28 anymore. I’m 38, which isn’t old by any definition, but it ain’t 18. So I refuse to cave to the pressure to maintain that unrealistic level of youth.
I choose instead to focus on the real in my life.
I know that when I laugh with my daughter, it is true joy that she will see on my face. She’ll see it in the creases that form in the corners of my eyes. She’ll see it in the fine lines that cluster on my forehead. She’ll see it in the soft folds that encircle my mouth. And when I’m laughing so hard that I tip my head forward trying to gather my breath, she’ll see a head of silver on black. I hope that it reminds her to always be herself, to grow old gracefully, and that happiness can be found in all shades and ages.