I was seventeen and preparing for my senior high school prom. I wanted to dazzle my date and decided my hair needed a little more sizzle. So I went to the drug store and bought the first of many boxes that continually changed my  image for almost the next half century. I still remember opening that first box, staring at the beautiful auburn-haired woman on the front and imagining how my date would be speechless when he saw me in my strapless aqua dress with the sweetheart neckline and aqua dyed especially-to-match-the-dress pumps. If my date noticed, he never mentioned it. That was the beginning of my hair coloring obsession.

I believe that variety is the spice of life. Following that philosophy, through the years I have experimented with just about every hair color that L’Oreal placed on the stores’ shelves. My son once asked my daughter why I kept changing my hair color. My daughter replied, “Well, she changes it when she’s happy, or when she’s sad, or when she’s worried, or when she’s excited, or when she just wants a change.” In other words, I reinvented myself all the time without expensive surgeries and within less than an hour. I must be fair and admit that there have been some hair-color calamaties. Once I tried a light reddish-blonde, and my five year old grandson started crying. He ran to his mother and said, “Why does Nana have a pumkin head?”

Then, I don’t know what happened. Maybe it was after that little cashier (she looked to be twelve years old) at Hardees gave me the Senior coffee without even asking if I was old enough to rate it. It initiated an unexpected turning point in how I felt about myself. Not that the impression of a teen-ager made me question my youthfulness or attractiveness, but I began to question whether I accepted myself for who I really was…at the very roots. I never bought into that advertising promotion that “sixty is the new forty” anyway.

Oh, I still wanted to look as good as I possibly could look and began my own personal research. I began to notice other women my age who continued to color their hair, and many of them were lovely. Obviously, they spared no expense at their hairdressers. Truthfully, very few women have jet black or bright red hair hair in their sixties, seventies, or eighties. There are exceptions. One of my best friends has naturally dark brown hair and has never taken a bottle of color to it. Even if her hair had turned completely gray, I knew she would be fine with that, too. That’s when I made my decision to embrace my seniorness.

I cut my medium ash brown hair short and waited way more than an hour to uncover the new me. First, the gray roots I had so painstakenly disguished for years began to come out of the closet so to speak. My children who had laughed about my obsession for changing my hair color so often, were now questioning my decision to go natural. “You look so much older,” my daughter complained. At times I almost lost my resolve and went to the hair section at Walmart. The hair colors called out to me, really!  I could hear them tempting me…”You are worth it.” All the women on the boxes looked so young. Well, why not, they were all in their twenties!

I finally decided I liked the freedom that came with accepting myself. I didn’t spend time every month deciding what color I wanted to try next. I didn’t mess up the bathroom with spilled haircolor, I didn’t spend money going to a hairdresser to “fix” my mistake only end up with a color I didn’t like, and I saved the money. Best of all, I’m good with who I am. Whether I am happy, sad, worried, or excited, I don’t need to change my appearance, just my attitude. I don’t even mind when the twelve year old cashier at a fast food restaurant gives me a senior discount without asking me. I’m proud to say I’ve earned every strand of my gray locks. Besides, I read in a magazine the other day that gray hair is in fashion now!