I know her. That hair. Tawny, they call it. Tawny with some filaments of blond that catch the light as she moves. Tawny with some threads of auburn that add depth and contrast.
I know her as a fellow member of a club that has as its motto, “You’re not getting older; you’re getting lighter.”
We’re the ones who in pictures from maybe even five years ago would be considered brunettes. We’re the ones who saw the wiry gray and immediately went to the file in our brain where the last remnants of our middle-school biology class lessons are stored. We remembered the section on the chameleon and the mossy-leaf tailed gecko. Camouflage! The strands of gray would get lost in the mélange of gold and ginger, which would do double duty by brightening our face as well.
We sit in a chair for hours every couple of months getting our fix of celebrity junk in People or Us (and asking ourselves constantly, Who are these people?) while our colorist paints onion-skin-thin sections of hair with stinky goop and then folds each section up in tin foil.
We wonder if there could be a more tedious job, but we pay the colorist well for this exquisite layering of highlights and low lights, which is supposed to look natural, like sun-kissed tresses. And maybe to some eyes we do appear to have developed a late-in-life California-girl sheen by some type of mutation (who knows all the effects of climate change, right?). But we know better. We can spot a sister in strands immediately. They include some stars—such as Katie Couric and Barbara Walters (seriously, look at photos of them from the 80s)—and a neighbor or two. We are unified in our gratitude for the advances in chemistry that save us from our drab could-have-beens.
Maybe to some eyes we appear to have developed a late-in-life California-girl sheen by some type of mutation.
If I weren’t a member of the honey hair club for women, I would have a Pepe le Pew stripe on my right side, from my widow’s peak to my crown. One of my friends calls me Gray Streak—not that she’s ever seen it in its full glory—but she knows me well enough to have seen the inklings of it at my roots when I’ve gone too long between colorist appointments. Some people suggest I just let my gray streak be. Do a Susan Sontag or a Cruella de Ville. But I’m not that brave. Yet. For now I’ll just enjoy the company here in the club and hide gray hair. The way I see it, a third of the population of women over 50 can’t be wrong.