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Whether you choose to cover up grey hair, or keep it as it is – do exactly what you want to do!
“A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.” – Coco Chanel
Going by this quote, what should I say about colouring one’s hair?
Indian women are genetically blessed with naturally long, smooth and black hair. And from generations, we have been using henna, shikakai and numerous Indian herbs to preserve their beauty and colour. Since the great Indian hair colour industry started flourishing in the late nineties, we have shifted our devotion to the variety of hair colours and highlights which have now become a part and parcel of our regular beauty regime.
So much so that, if a woman decides against colouring her hair, she might be looked at as someone from the older and backward generation – who doesn’t know how to preserve her beauty.
I have always been quite experimental when it comes to my hair. When I was in college, I was smitten by the new trend of using a ‘highlight’ for your hair. Getting inspired by one of my friends, I got my tresses highlighted with strips of a golden blonde shade. I am blessed with a natural straight hair, so for many months my entire head looked something like a desi version of Jennifer Anniston’s tresses.
I enjoyed the entire feel of the highlight till it lasted and was also quite amused with the kind of attention I got – heads turning and girls discussing. My modest hometown folks were not used to such fashion trends yet. I also received some creative ‘foreign ki aunty’ tags from over enthusiastic boys. Yet, what I felt mattered to me more than what others thought.
Now I am in my early thirties and I know that my hair has started to grey. The moment when I observed my first white hair, I was ecstatic. Since I can remember, I have always related white or grey hair with intelligent and wise people – not just someone old and vain. My grandmother always said – “buddhiche pikle kess” which literally translates to “grey matter”.
I also secretly fantasized over the older Anil Kapoor from Lamhe with those strands of grey hair. Later, I was bowled over by men like Richard Gere, Pierce Brosnan, George Clooney for their “oh so intelligent” sexy grey hair. Back home we had Vikram Bhat, Javed Akhtar, Imtiaaz Ali and the gorgeous Milind Soman who flaunted their salt and pepper hair. So when my hair actually started graying, it was a feeling of achievement for me, not something to worry about. Earlier, it was a couple of singles here and there, but now when I see many more of them, I feel more excited.
At almost each of my visits to a beauty parlour, the lady there gives me a half an hour lecture about why I should immediately start colouring my hair. “You have such nice hair colour. We need to preserve it. You will look old otherwise.” Often it is my parents, relatives and over enthusiastic extended family who are surprised to see me with my grey hair at weddings and family functions. They are sure that I haven’t yet realized that I have grey hair.
I find it extremely difficult to convince them that I love my graying hair and I very much intend to keep it growing. I feel I have earned these grey hairs with much patience. They are my hairs of wisdom and intelligence. Also, even if I start colouring, I seriously don’t want to get stressed about the rigorous hair colouring routine (I already get bored of the normal pedicure, manicure, facial, wax routine). I would anytime prefer a book. Just like I highlighted my hair in college only because I liked it, I wish to keep my grey hair because I like it – not to defy the norms.
Of course grey hair means you are ageing. But every damn person on this planet is ageing! And I feel its more of a time to take care of your heart’s health than worrying about your hair colour. Moreover, the wrinkled skin and crow’s feet give away the real age of the woman rather than the colour of the hair.
It will take ages to get over the “black colour equals to youth and beauty” mindset so strongly stuck inside Indian women. Most of the hair colouring routine for Indians is based on what “others” think of you than what you think yourself. It’s also the question of society, friends circle, relatives and colleagues rather than “me” as a person. But, let me not get preachy here – every woman is unique and equally respectable irrespective of her choice of hair colour. And I love watching Deepika Padukone with her pink hair as much as I love watching Waheeda Rehman with her salt and pepper hair.
It all comes back to one single point: Do women stand for what they actually are or others’ perception of what women should be like? On the occasion of International Women’s Day I wish to scream from the rooftops and tell all the beautiful ladies out there – “Ladies, please be yourself and let your hair be itself. Let it be as you want it to be and don’t let stereotypes influence your opinion. One day, we will all be old and tired. The beauty lies in growing old gracefully – and you can decide for yourself whether your grace lies in black or grey or any other colour.”
Note: This post is not at all intended to mock women who colour their hair. Every woman has her own idea of beauty and is equally lovable irrespective of her hair colour. I just wish to recommend women who want to retain their grey hair to go ahead and don’t judge yourself based on popular beliefs of the society. Just like each skin colour is unique, each hair colour is unique and must be celebrated.
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