Today I dyed my hair.
No biggie. Lots of people do it. Over the years I’ve been pink, purple, jet jet black, auburn, blue-streaked and brown. I’ve always hankered after platinum blonde, but fear and the fact that I’d most likely look vile always stopped me. In hindsight, I wish I’d taken the chance to hit the bleach when I was in my teens. If you can’t look like a total raging pillock when you’re eighteen, when can you, right?
Today was a bit different though. I was torn. I nearly put the box back on the shelf several times. I finally bought a very basic dark brown that I’ve been using for a few years. Even at the point where my only available dyeing slot came up, I wavered. I just wasn’t sure.
My original reason for the dark brown dye was because I bloody hated my hair colour. Generations of people from all over Europe converged on Ireland over the hundreds of years, giving it a magnificent multi-cultural heritage and bringing with it a wealth of classic looks that have colour-blended over the years. My handsome grandfather was gifted with a lions mane of black hair and stunning glass-blue eyes. In my case, the colour spectrum didn’t quite align the way it should’ve and instead of my grandfathers strong gypsy colouring, my ruddy rosacea-addled complexion found itself involuntarily teamed with a clash-tastic orange hue. In the sun, my skin darkens to the point of burnt umber, contrarily my hair lightens to a hue of artificial bronze. In short, I look fucking weird.
As time passed, I noticed with absolute horror that in the run-up to dye-day, I had a little white hair or two. Mortified at the idea that I could possibly age (I am immortal and forever 25, OF COURSE), I attacked the bastards with dye and tweezers, refusing to allow the little cunts residence on my barnet. And the battle continued, year after routine year of buying the boxes, splattering dye everywhere, slathering Vaseline on my ears and fighting the urge to scratch my head lest I end up with funky looking fingernails.
Then about six months ago, I started to seriously think about being old. The more I pondered, the more my fear ebbed away. There’s a chance I might be a Nana one day. Which would obviously be absolutely AMAZING. I thought back to my Nan and her wardrobe of fur coats and scarves, her jewellery boxes filled with broaches. I want to wear broaches, I thought. And scarves.
I thought about the older woman I’d like to be. Me in my seventies. Wrinkled, but not too wrinkled (I do skincare to an almost religious level), still sporting a very nice and serviceable black wool dress (with huge batwings, natch) and a spendy scarf, fixed with a gloriously batshit broach. A massive cock made of huge diamanté, perhaps. Grayson Perry has got that being an older woman thing nailed. But my statement would be my hair. I would nurture and embrace The White Streak that I’ve been covering up. It would be the crown atop my head, telling the world that it can get fucked with its ideals of beauty and age. I would wear my hair as long as it is now, loose, plaited, in a Margot Fonteyn-style chignon or a severe bun teamed with a Chanel red lipstick, depending on my mood. I would take no shit.
After I left the high street chemists with my box of hair dye, I almost stopped in my tracks as I walked past a coffee shop and saw a stunning woman in her early fifties who held her coffee cup with elegance. Her hair was twisted and pinned quite casually, her fringe was being grown out and was simply falling in her face in a single, glorious streak of white in her otherwise dark hair. She looked incredible. My carrier bag wobbled in my hand and the receipt rustled in my purse. But I didn’t turn back.
When I finally arrived home, I went through the usual routine until eventually I had to force my hand: dye or no dye.
I dyed. One day I will not.