Cindy Goff, going gray. Photo by Cat Ford-Coats

To gray or not to gray

I started seeing a few gray hairs in my mid to late 30s, but a few grays I could live with. In my early 40's, I started "getting color." In my case, “getting color” meant really light, long blond highlights so those grays would blend in. This worked for a long time. It was expensive, but I only had to do it about every 6 or 7 months. I liked the result, and the grays just kind of mixed in. Then something horrible happened in my early 50s. Only about 5 weeks after my expensive “getting color” adventures, my grays were noticeable. They didn’t just mix in with my fake blond hair. They were gray. Not going anywhere. GRAY. I just couldn’t afford getting my hair done every 5 weeks. And I don’t think it would have mattered. The grays popped up like measles just a couple of weeks after being at the salon. And so my next trick was to buy color at the grocery store and just do the top of my head every month or so. This worked fine and covered them up. But I didn’t have highlights, so my hair looked dull, and when the grays came back in, they were worse then before.

Carrie and Eli Mountain. Baby Virginia.

My photoshoot with Cat Ford-Coates was coming up, and I had to make a BIG decision. Was it time to just go gray? I felt the calling deep in my soul to stop using all the hair color. Just be myself. I had seen lots of beautiful women who have gone gray. I didn't want to fight it anymore. 

I think back to my great-grandmother, Carrie Mountain. She had waist-long, gray hair that she braided or pulled into a bun. When I was a kid, I thought she looked royal. Regal. She stood over a wood-burning stove placing the special “parlor cookies” on ornate, blue china for me to eat on the fancy couch. Even in her late 80s, I remember her standing up straight, looking you square in the eye, her thick, soft gray hair piled onto her head.

It’s so hard for women to ease into aging. Bombarded by youthful advertising images, it’s easy to fall into the trap of never wanting to age. But we have to be strong enough to look over, around, and through these images to find real women, who step out of the mini-shirt of their youth and slip on the gorgeous Soul Vogue of 40 and beyond. Soul Vogue is who you are and who you want to be. Every women has this deep inside. We all really know what to do. But some choose to either try and stay young forever or leap to being 30 years older. All this in an effort to simply avoid who they are at this stage of their life and embrace themselves. You have to really stare inside at your Soul Vogue to find your look, since the world isn’t giving us women over 40 any ideas.

What will I do with my gray? I’m not sure yet. It’s like that summer you noticed you had breasts and were not quite sure how best to wear them. Did you cover them up with lumpy sweaters or wear the lowest cut top you could find? I’ll grow into my gray. It is a part of me now, and my Soul Vogue will point me to the right version of myself.