There isn't one day that I can remember in my entire adult life that someone didn't ask me about my hair.
It's always been the topic of conversation, so much so that I named my lifestyle blog (GorgeousInGrey.com) after it. Currently my hair is short, styled in a Mohawk and I got this bright idea last year to stop relaxing my hair and let my natural curls reign. But the most noticeable aspect of my hair is its color.
Usually before people even say hi, they ask about it. Most start off with the obvious question: Did you dye your hair that color? Some, I guess, are confused by my youthful looks and say, how old are you? I try to smile and answer politely, even if it's the 8th time that day I've heard it.
But from time to time, I admit, my smart-ass alter ego slips out. Last week I went to visit a friend in the hospital and after the security guard gawked at my breasts for 12 seconds before commenting, "Wow, is your hair really grey?" I paired a straight face with my grown lady country voice and replied, "Yeah ... but I’m 52 years ole and I've lived a grand life and earned every single strand of this mop of mine."
SMH, I think he might have believed me.
Oh and I will never forget the younger guy who asked me what felt like 20 million questions only to get my number and ask me if I minded doing some roleplaying over the phone. Hey, I’m a fun kind of of gal; why not? Guess what? Crazy wanted to call me Aunt Emma Jean and then have me sing bedtime stories to him. Really, sir?
Of course, some people are just interested. I was recently followed by a woman at the mall who eventually apologized and confessed that she was admiring my hair from store to store. She said she had seen many people with premature grey but none who looked in their 20s like me. Twenties is certainly quite a stretch for a compliment but still one just the same. So I smiled and I thanked her.
For those people, let me just state a few facts about my hair since there are so many misconceptions.
1. In real life, my hair is grey.
About 65% of my hair is grey, and has been since my twenties (I’m 35 now). I wasn’t born with it and it’s not my birthmark. (Aren’t birthmarks on your skin anyways?)
It hasn’t been a traumatizing experience for me to go grey either. Both my mother and father were grey by the time I was born. A few of my aunts are as well. So for me it was perfectly normal and I even looked forward to it.
I did dye my hair like every other girl growing up. Red, blonde, black -- even a purple(ish) color. But it severely damaged my hair. And since my fear of being bald is greater than my fear of grey hair, I stopped 10 years ago on my 25 birthday.
2. Grey Hair is hard to manage and it turns green.
These two points can be true for many, but they are not for me. I was taught at an early age to take care of my hair. Meaning, my mother did not allow me to put chemicals in my hair until I was in high school (as you could see in my 9th grade picture if I hadn't burned them). When I was finally permitted to use some sort of hot comb or a box perm, it was only for holidays and maybe at the end of winter or the beginning of summer if my grades were up to par. She always made me wear a scarf and/or rollers at night, and I didn’t curl my hair every day.
Chemicals and heat are two of the main reasons why you might see someone regretfully sporting green-grey hair.
3. No ma’am/sir it’s not a wig.
I will admit it to myself. Sometimes depending on the style it does look like one of those wigs that supermodel Beverly Johnson sells on those infomercials at 3 am. I think it’s because my hair is really thick at any length. Most black people believe thick hair to be course hair. To the contrary, my tresses are super-soft and are a marvelous combination of fine and course.
4. And last of all, to my knowledge I am black.
I know it’s really hard for most to believe that my natural wave nouveau-like tresses came from two very brown parents and a heap of really brown aunties and uncles, but it’s true. I joke often about my ancestors sneaking in the house and mating with the bosses and ‘em, but seriously … all the pictures I have of my people are black people.
Besides, anything past great-grandparents doesn’t count. I really wish I had some miraculous tale about how my hair turned grey. It would be kind of neat to say I was a mutant like Storm from X-men. And it would surely make me feel a lot better when answering that same question 13-20 times a day.