by jeanne charters
oldest daughter is letting her hair go grey!
lives in Santa Cruz, CA, a town much like Asheville in its dedication
to all things natural. Cori is a beautiful young woman and will remain
so whatever color she decides her hair should be…but, but that
means that I NOW HAVE A DAUGHTER WITH GREY HAIR! This is a passage
that catches me totally unaware.
all, here I am her mother with dark chestnut hair. Granted, I’ve
been coloring it since it started to turn in my late 20’s; but
I like to pretend to myself that I’m fooling people. Of late,
I must admit it’s a real pain in the butt because I have to
touch up my roots every 3 weeks or so. Fortunately, I do my own color
or I’d end up spending an inordinate amount of time at the Peoples
Place Hair Salon on Wall Street. I have a deal with my haircutter,
Heidi Segar. She is sworn to tell me when my dark hair begins to make
me look like a desperate hag. She promises that she will. I trust
her to do that because, after all, she doesn’t want her clients
walking around looking like something out of Sunset Boulevard.
back to Cori. She’s a lovely entrepreneurial woman and mom to
two great kids; and I guess she’s old enough to make this important
decision without input from me. However, Heidi tells me that going
grey will make Cori look 10 years older. Is that a bad thing? I guess
not, IF she has developed her inner self enough to watch the perfect
women on Desperate Housewives without resorting to an extra glass
of wine or sleeping pills. I aspire to Cori’s wisdom but just
haven’t quite acquired it yet.
plan to have lunch tomorrow with a good friend who is suffering the
same quandary as I. She moved to Asheville from Puerto Rico, where
Centenarians are still ravishing bottle brunettes. I came here from
New York where the only place you see a grey head is in Wal*Mart or
church. She, too, has noticed that in Asheville those of us with dyed
hair are much in the minority. Perhaps, together we will be able to
make this monumental decision. I just thought of something weird…wouldn’t
it be tricky if we both agreed to go grey and then one of us reneged?
Man, that would piss me off the next time I saw her.
Cori gave me a wonderful book for Christmas. It’s called Wise
Women…a celebration of their insights, courage and beauty. The
cover picture is of Christine Lee who is 76 years old. Christine has
pure white hair. She says, “The most important thing is to enjoy
life—because you never know when it will be gone. If you wake
up in the morning and have a choice between doing the laundry and
taking a walk in the park, go for the walk. You’d hate to die
and realize you had spent your last day doing laundry.”
convinced me, Christine. Screw the laundry. However, it should be
noted that I am notoriously easy to convince to blow things off in
matters related to house work.
Seldes at 73 says, “You have to start each day again—you
can’t repeat what you did. When I let my hair go grey, I felt
an enormous freedom. All those years of having my hair dyed—why
did I do that?”
then, I turn to the page featuring Gloria Steinem at 67. There she
is glossy brown hair long and loose, a tiny bit of cleavage apparent
and wearing a pair of leather pants that I could not fit one leg into.
Here’s what Gloria has to say,
“Many of us are living out the unlived lives of our mothers,
because they were not able to become the unique people they were born
How true is that?? I always said that my mom, Dorothy Hackett, could
have run General Motors blindfolded while baking a perfect pie in
her immaculate kitchen. I’m so grateful that I don’t take
Carlisle Hart’s picture has her hair dark and bouffant. She
is displaying her glorious legs in a dress with a slit cut nearly
to her hip. She looks mighty beautiful at 90.
Kitty says, “I practice singing every day. I worked with all
the greats—Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Richard
Rodgers. They are all dead now. I’m the only one left who knew
them and can still sing. I tell younger people to keep working, so
when they get as old as me (sic), they have something that keeps them
in the game!”
think I’ll go vocalize some. The dust on my furniture is beginning
to look kinda homey.
Brooke Astor’s hair looks lightly frosted, as though the grey
has settled on her dark hair like snowflakes. She is wearing a magnificent
pearl bracelet and cuddling her brown beagle dog. She is 98 years
old. Brook’s quote goes like this, "I grow more intense
as I age, and I am more passionate about the projects I believe in.
I still enjoy getting dressed elegantly in the evening and making
an ‘entrance’ at a party.”
After lingering with this lovely book, I have come to realize that
hair does not really the woman make. These women are certainly mature,
elderly crones. (Sorry, Julie…I still hate that word.) But they
are vibrantly alive and involved in their world as much as when they
were young. I think that’s probably the secret to youth and
beauty, no matter what your age or the color of your hair. Funny,
isn’t it, that sometimes wisdom comes from our children? When
did that switch happen?
best quote in the book is the one on the fly leaf. It says:
“Merry Christmas, mom! To the best role model I have of a wise
and wonderful woman. I love you so much. Cori”
I love you, too, sweetheart.
is a former V.P. of Marketing for Viacom Television. She started her
own award-winning broadcast advertising agency in 1990. Jeanne lives
in Fairview with her husband, Matt Restivo.