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Last night at coven we were discussing mirror work. I am of the, "Ick, ptui, stoopid, not me" camp. I have tried in the past to do the loving affirmations to the mirror. I get the purpose, I get the idea, I never get the benefit because it just tweaks me that badly. I can send love to inner me all over the damn place, but not the outer me. And that is where the hitch has always been for me for many and varied complicated reasons. So I figure mirror work is useful for some, not for all, and I am in the "not for all" part.

And then reflection time came. Turns out I am actively engaged in a kind of mirror work. Who says you must use these words, "I love you" to the mirror? There are other ways, other words, other actions - like say, not running away screaming, not spitting in disgust - you get the picture. Now, I do not look in a mirror and want to run screaming or spit, but my aversion to looking and therefore judging the reflection goes deep. I understand society has decided that my appearance is not awful and I don't need to be shunned, but I rarely look in the mirror and think, "Hey beautiful! You look great today!" There is an obvious disconnect. Aging has not helped this disconnect at all. Gravity happens, things lossen and slide south, fat pads are acquired, muscle tone changes, fine lines appear.

I have had all of those things happen except the fine lines are near absent. I have finally acquired a few, but at a slower rate than my peers. It is a genetic thing, not an anything I do on purpose thing. I have been easily grateful for this in the past because I understand the societal benefit of it in a culture that worships a youthful appearance. I understand and cash in on the benefit while at the same time feel badly for doing so. On the flip side of that is I started going gray at age 20. At that same age I started to play with my color because of the appearance of the gray. I loved my natural color - except for the gray ones. I may have not spent the next 32 years alternately dyeing to cover or highlight to hide the gray if not for the value placed disproportionately on youth in the USA.

It did not help that the people around me expressed shock and dismay at the gray hairs and encouraged me to cover it up. I was then (and apparently still am now) swayed by the culture I live in. Even now when the subject comes up the people who did not go gray early (and some who have not gone much gray "late") say with a bit pride how little gray they have as if they have any control over that. As if having it = lesser. And this comes from other women. I understand it (no, I don't). I never was proud of not looking my age in my skin because hey, not my doing. They add to the shaming from society with their smug assertion about lack of gray hair. How sad. This culture shames women who choose not to cover their gray at a younger age and only marginally accepts it in much older women. Once they've accepted it at whatever magical age society has chosen the woman is slotted into the Grandma category which means no sex appeal, but great for baking cookies and sending money at the holidays. Other women cover part of their gray and not all of it as a beauty statement that they are accepting the aging process which falls short of sounding true.

I am not writing to advocate covering or not covering the gray hairs for individual women. I feel strongly that each woman should choose for herself. I would prefer it be the choice that makes her happiest outside of society's expectations, but that is a hard thing to do. I am trying to make that choice. I've not colored my hair in 2 months. It is growing out gray and darker brown. Some places it is mostly gray, others half gray, and still others wee bits of gray. I keep looking in the mirror and telling myself it is okay. It is okay to be gray. It is okay to be exactly as I am. I am going on faith right now that it is okay because I do not yet believe it. The hardest part is this in-between time when I have multi-color hair that looks like I just don't give a shit. I actually do give a shit, just in a different direction than before.

I'm doing this because I am so over the maintenance of graying hair. Three decades is a long time for bending one's will to the surrounding norm. I also want to push back at society and its bizarre double standard for men and women and the value system surrounding appearance, youth, and worth. I don't know that I won't just cave and run to the stylist and get highlights. I don't know that it would be such a bad thing if I did as long as I can get to the place where it is truly just a choice for me absent of the shaming and undermining from outside sources. I don't know if I can get to that place. For now I'm just biding my time, resisting getting a crewcut to get the growing out stage over with, and waiting.

Mirror work after all. Imagine that.

This entry was originally posted at http://pj.dreamwidth.org/383185.html. Please comment here or there there using your LJ ID or OpenID.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 15th, 2013 09:22 pm (UTC)
Whoah I just had a similar conversation on mirrors, and self-reproadhful flogging, and loving one's self in someone else's journal today.

"Other women cover part of their gray and not all of it as a beauty statement that they are accepting the aging process, which falls short of sounding true.

Yes, I still cover part of my grey (so it will grow out correctly). I'm going for the Lily Munster look. It's white on top...still dark and practically sans grey on the bottom. Woot. I'm having fun with it...is it a beauty statement? Hell yes, It's a whole truckton of fun. And No...oh wait, OH HELL NO, I'm not accepting the aging process. Am fighting it kicking and screaming!! Grr. I've made friends with my grey hair - it looks really rock n roll and cool. The tire around my belly? THAT is an entirely different story.

But dhalink, you are beautiful! Keep being your beautiful, natural self! ::smooches you::
May. 16th, 2013 02:36 am (UTC)
I loved my mother's hair natural. So, we'll see how far I get. But really - 3 decades seems long enough of the monthly-6 week torture. If I slip back into it it will be highlights again.
May. 16th, 2013 02:58 am (UTC)
um. i love you. that is all.
May. 16th, 2013 04:46 am (UTC)
And that is all I need. :-)
Jul Ravensong
Jun. 7th, 2013 10:02 am (UTC)
My mum never tried to cover up her silver when it started coming in, she just let it come. She said it reflected all that she'd been through. She has been bright silver for years and I think she's beautiful. My mum's hair is very long and thin, and she wears it in a bun...has for most of her adult life. When she takes it down to brush it out I can see some traces of her old chestnut brown towards the bottom, and it makes me smile, but I love her silver hair, and I think it's beautiful.

I inherited my father's hair, and he died so young we never knew what color his would have turned, although my paternal grandfather never went grey...however over the last year I have had bright WHITE hairs popping up under my temples, at my crown, and in my eyebrows. I have to admit I've been yanking them out when I see them, as they are usually just a single hair...but if I end up with a shock I think I'm going Rogue. :)
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )