a publication of the sexuality and aging consortium at widener university

On Going Gray

By Carolyn Cooperman
Despite my feminist leanings, the decision to let my brown hair grow in gray took me about 30 years to make.  Most of the women in my age group still rinse, dye, or streak regularly.  You can even find women in nursing homes who still color their hair.  I eventually met the challenge, and here are some pleasant memories of the experience.
My young grandson, in his wisdom, simplified the process.  “You still look the same except now you have white hair instead of brown.”
Women sometimes approach me on the street and offer compliments.  One woman came up to me in a department store and asked me to stand next to her before a mirror. She was trying to see what she might look like if she gave up the bottle.
A really cute man in his 20’s gave me his seat on a bus.  I reminded him of his cherished grandmother who had hair like mine.
One of my clients, who always wore a baseball cap, noticed my two-toned hair during the growing-out process.  We had some laughs about hair issues, which motivated him to shed his hat.  This initiated a more trusting and beneficial relationship.
Brown or white, my hair has always had a mind of its own and still grows wild from time to time.  I can live with these traits!
Carolyn Cooperman, MA, LCSW, is a sexuality educator and co-author of Positive Images, a sexuality curriculum published by Planned Parenthood of Greater Northern New Jersey.

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