I found her in the bathroom. She wore tin foil in her hair, rubber gloves, and a pair of safety glasses. She leaned close to the mirror, squirting what looked like molasses into her hair.
“What’re you doing?” I asked.
“I’m coloring my gray hairs.” Then she slapped me silly with a L’Oréal box and warned me never to tell a soul what I saw.
God help me.
The first thing you should know about my wife: she will gut me like a fish and let me bleed on the kitchen floor after reading this.
Second: her hair is not gray. Not even slightly. This silver hair she’s worried about is actually a faint streak—visible only to government calibrated nuclear nanoscopes.
And truth be told, I love the streak.
But then, I love gray hair. The same way I like crow’s feet, love-handles, beer-guts, muffin-tops, cracked heels, and—I’m being serious—unwanted upper-lip hair.
Look, I don’t know when TV experts decided that we needed to get plucked, augmented, or painted. But these experts deserve to be herded into the town square and dipped in a bucket of L’Oréal Natural Midnight.
Who said gray was bad? And who said round bodies, lanky legs, big feet, hawk noses, wide hips, flat backsides, small chests, reading glasses, and turkey necks were bad?
You want to know something? The smartest woman I ever met had cotton hair and wrinkled skin. And just before we closed her casket, I got to touch that dandelion-fuzz one last time.
She was the same lady who once said, “The greatest thing any child can grow up to be is themselves.”
Well, not that it matters what I think, but I wish our children knew more about themselves; less about calorie counting. I wish they learned more about swatting gnats; less about European swimsuit models.
I know a girl who got made fun of during school. They teased her because of her size. So, she went on a diet.
At first, it was success. Folks couldn’t believe how much weight she was losing. Soon, her knee joints started protruding. Her hair started falling out. Her weight fell into double-digits.
Her parents sent her to rehab. The doc asked why she refused food.
She answered, “Because I’m ugly.”
Ugly my cuss.
This world has gone plastic. And if you don’t believe me, just take a gander at the magazines in the checkout aisles.
I don’t know how to get things back to how they used to be. But I wish our girls knew that imperfections are the best sort of perfection there is.
And I want the woman in my bathroom to know something: I like every damn hair God gave her—including her streak of gray.
And I hope I live to see a full head of them on her pretty head.
Call an ambulance.
Gayle Dawkins - February 2, 2017 2:37 pm
Thank you for writing about this. I made a tough decision a year ago (women will understand that statement) @ the age of 63 to stop coloring my hair. It was scary but ya know it has been “freeing”. Love your stories Sean. First thing I read in the morning.
Carol - February 24, 2017 2:32 pm
I made the tough decision to stop coloring my hair quite a few years ago. I am just a bump over 60. I still go back and forth about coloring it again; thus far, I have not; it’s nice to know that not everyone is as caught up in gray hair as some of us are.
Sandra W Marrar - February 2, 2017 2:54 pm
I just love it! I made that decision about a year ago to stop coloring my hair and just let nature take it’s course. It hasn’t killed me..it’s freed me!
Keep up the good work. Your writings bring a smile to my face and a tear to my eyes. You should be very proud!
Linda Lewis - February 2, 2017 3:42 pm
Beautiful, Sean. I hope you don’t need the ambulance. I’m lucky because I, too, have a man who loves me like I am. Priceless.
Joyce Hilburn - February 2, 2017 4:28 pm
Thank you for saying what I think women will only believe if they hear it from a man. Some women may want to string me up for saying it but I think it’s true. Wonderful, healing, reassuring words! Hope you compile a book some day because I want to save everything you write.
Pamela - February 24, 2017 1:51 pm
Sean has several volumes of short stories now in print . And also some novels . Check it out on Google. ?
Laura Goslee - January 17, 2018 1:50 pm
It is true, we need to hear men saying it, slaying the dragons that attack with viciousness, protecting the young women of the future. We need an army of them really!
Cathryn Corbin Richburg - January 17, 2018 5:31 pm
He has compiled multiple books, and they’re available on Kindle!
sherry k. - February 2, 2017 5:05 pm
I’m often complimented on my now completely grey hair by other women…but a man has never once mentioned it. Often I hear the compliment more as a “so brave” kinda thing even when they say “it’s pretty”…..mostly they speak up if I kind of catch them staring…I think probably trying to figure out how old I MUST BE BECAUSE HOLY COW WHITE HAIR.
Rachel messer - February 2, 2017 5:28 pm
I love, love, love ready these every day.
Lynnette Rich - February 2, 2017 7:50 pm
I so love this. Thank you.
Diane Enloe - February 2, 2017 7:59 pm
Thank you, Sean! This is freeing!! ☺
Kay Keel - February 2, 2017 8:15 pm
Cherryl Shiver - February 2, 2017 11:43 pm
I am a breast cancer SURVIVOR !! One of the times I loved my husband the most,…….we have double sinks in our bathroom. We were both getting ready for work. His work uniform is black pants and shirt, he was on the left me on the right. I pulled out my blow dryer, he plugged it in, I commenced to drying my blonde hair. Needless to say hair was flying out EVERYWHERE, …..he reached over,unplugged the hair dryer and said, Honey, they are going to think we have been blanket wrestling, just look at me….he kissed my head and said Gosh I hope they do !! What a way to get a gal with cancer to grin……that afternoon, I went and got my last haircut for a long time. Guess what ? Best looking Special Agent around anywhere, after 40 years he still gives me the vapors. I am sure Jamie worships the ground you walk on……….
Mary Ellen Hall - February 3, 2017 3:43 am
That is TRUE LOVE!!!
Denise Mills - February 3, 2017 5:19 am
My dyed- blond, peach-fuzzed, turkey-necked plump self thanks you!! I’m so blessed to have a husband who thinks like you!
Kate - February 3, 2017 8:53 am
It saddens me that there is this pressure to be perfect yet plastic. Perfect is what they are already – they are wonderful people in their own unique ways, which makes them perfect in their own right rather than rows and rows of generic ‘beauty’ all looking like they came out of the same factory mould with out any individuality and spark.
Sadly, it is not just girls that suffer.
Susie Munz - February 3, 2017 2:03 pm
Great story, Sean. And, bless you for being so accepting of the real us.
Carol DeLater - February 3, 2017 8:14 pm
Oh don’t you know the younger generation IS changing. Heck…pink, blue and purple hair abounds. But there ARE some that want the skinny, but a whole lot that hank for big butts. Maybe the pendulum is swinging back.
Me..I’m 65 and colored my hair for fun…new year..new color. But no grey because I was the manager that strived for perfection and didn’t want anyone to call me a biddy. Nope. Don’t care about wrinkles or leaving my dentures out. Don’t need that makeup, but I do like a little blue line around my eyes (no longer use black cause I’m “old”). Bet your wife won’t care about grey someday when she figures out it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks but her.
Calista - February 4, 2017 1:02 am
Just precious ?
Julie - February 20, 2017 9:21 pm
I’m almost 69. Fifteen years ago I stopped coloring my hair and discovered it was just about completely grey. I kept it real short and my husband as well as lots of friends and strangers told me how much they liked it. Last summer I found out I had breast cancer. As my hair starting falling out because of the chemo, my sweet husband gave me a buzz cut with his beard trimmer. It didn’t take me long to decide that being bald was OK, so I oftentimes went out without anything on my head. Believe it or not lots of folks (family, friends, and total strangers) told me I had a great head and I looked good bald. In fact, one woman (turned out she was a cancer survivor) told me not to let anyone talk me into wearing a hat. My hair is growing back now. It’s more white than anything else and it reminds me of a dog we once had, close cropped with some interesting cowlicks. Amazingly though, I still get compliments. I think we women worry too much about hair. If I haven’t learned anything else in life I’ve come to know that a warm smile and a friendly manner are far more important than what’s on my head.
Sandra Hamm - February 24, 2017 2:39 pm
Love reading your writings!!
Rhoda - February 24, 2017 4:47 pm
Thank you…I’m sending this to my 13 year old grand daughter…head her off at the pass so to speak.
Becky Russell - February 24, 2017 8:55 pm
I’ve followed you for awhile…never commented. I absolutely love your heart…but what thrills me most is that my son is following you now. I want his man heart to be kind like yours…and his daddy, of course. Thank you.
Maxine - February 25, 2017 4:26 pm
My hair is snow white at 76 and has been mostly for the last many years, I tried streaking, outright coloring then my husband said he really loved it white so I left the color behind and moved on. He has been gone for almost a year now and I have left it white and will continue to do so to honor him.
This is the first of your posts I’ve ever seen but appreciate the raw honesty you spoke.
sylvia - February 26, 2017 12:23 am
You sir are awesome. My husband also likes my gray hair, and so do I it is m y trophy case of life. It tells the world I survived that fight, and I am still in the running. I am 58 years old and my hair is waist length. People tell me I should cut it but I never will. Love your articles. Keep keeping it real.
Pat Lindsey - January 17, 2018 1:38 pm
I just love you and your down-to-earth writing. I agree with this 100%!!
Maxine Cockerill - January 17, 2018 1:47 pm
My hair has been going silver for many years and is now solid. My husband never wanted me to color it and I didn’t because he loved it just the way it was. He would painstakingly re move every silver strand from my blouse before we left to go out. He has been gone for almost 2 years and it is still silver. I miss the feel of his fingers plunking the few stray from my shoulders. Silver hair is the trophy of age and survival and character.
Laura Goslee - January 17, 2018 2:57 pm
Thank you again Sean for speaking on these matters. Thank you.
I think I need a daily reader of men going to battle for women to help fight the fake…the be what society prescribes as good looking sexy sexified crud. Every day, every movie, advertisement, magazine article over 50 years slamming our natural selves hundreds of times a day, putting women in sexified clothes to turn someone’s head and turn someone on, with how we “should” look in order to be desired, loved, liked or even just not judged as awful, has taken it’s toll.
What a mess we have made of it really. Women have bought into it hook line and sinker. I did. I am undoing ir about 25 years now. (When i was in my early 20s i started to realize things were not good) It hits me differently at different stages of life. The post pregnancy body was a real difficulty. Now at 50 the battles have changed again. To stay looking young is a serious money making industry telling women we look awful if we have signs of aging.
I see young women putting so very much time, money efforts into getting sexified up and my heart breaks for what they are not doing with that time and money. It seems it is where they are putting all their efforts and even hope, but if we are blessed and get to grow old, have babies, change and be in a different looking and feeling body, it will be hard.
They will age and looks will change, and the more they invest in the lies, the more it hurts when time and life are what they are and have certain effects.
How does it effect men? Do they expect women to jump through these hoops to have the certain look? I see it in my own boys. One commented on women needing to shave their legs. A discussion on the natural body ensued. As a mom I have battled the incoming crud the best I could. Rap with women called awful names was popular as they went through teens. I did my best teaching about that as well. Even children’s cartoons and animations have mini skirts, cleavaged baring women with proportions that are not realistic, societies vision of perfectly sexified women in them. Please society, please just stop! Leave these baby girls alone to be a person without all the crap expectations and judgements. Bless the men who fight for women, who slay these attavkers on women’s spirits.
Bless women to be strong against the crap, who will not bite the sex sells ways. And Lord help us heal because these open wounds of not being enough hurt like hell on Earth. It stinks to not feel enough.
I have a vision of a drawing of women walking around in sexified clothing with gaping festering wounds on them near the pumps, the deep cleavage, the mini skirt, the makeup with a cloud bubble saying what caused the festering wound next to it. And then an alternative woman just being…in comfy non sexified attire…her confidence, worthiness, not needing the approval or glares of check out from anyone.
I work with hurting young women, cutting, slashing, starving themselves, hating themselves young women. I have felt the effects upon myself and them. Please keep speaking out, gather an army of men and women to slay this beast Sean.
Bless your beautiful wife may she rest in your faithful real adoring love of her and God’s love of her. I really understand. I battle it too. I was my natural grayish color for 3 years, at times feeling shame for it, and a few times feeling strong and bad add warrior for being natural. Now I am using a wash out color because it is easier than battling the shame, not good enough, not young enough feelings. My husband says I am beautiful without it, he doesn’t care about it at all. I am evaluating all the triggers that started me using it. It really is a battle.
Laura Goslee - January 17, 2018 3:25 pm
You can not go into a drug store or grocery without having mostly naked sexified women put directly in front of ones face…and end up feeling kinda lousy that I do not look like that, honestly. If my husband is beside me I feel worse. Maybe I am more broken than most women, probably due to the exposure to porn addiction with a man in my younger years. The other day I saw three young women behind me in line at the grocery store. I felt a bit of warrior rise up in me and i took the first copy of the most sexified up cover and turned it over. When we found out smoking csused cancer it took time, but finally smoking is not allowed in public spaces in michigan. Maybe a blank cover with the title can be put on all magazines and people can then choose to see it if they want to. How does one prove these photos hurt women then get the changes made? Studies have been done on women who flip through a magazine with many female adds. They feel depressed post viewing. I wish we were worth the changes that could be made.
Laura Goslee - January 17, 2018 3:03 pm
I Love the drawing above!
Charaleen Wright - March 23, 2019 4:16 am