I told her to cut about 4 inches off and to put in a few layers. So as she continues evaluating the current status of my hair, she asks, “Have you ever had color before?” *pause story* Ok, I know it’s their job to try to “up-sell” services, but a moment of evaluation was made by her to make her ask me this question that had nothing to do with profits, so there’s more packed into this question than just making more money. *play story*
I told her I tried highlights a few times years ago and once in my 20’s I tried something crazy (for me) and bleached it all, but other than that I’ve never changed my hair color. She goes, “Oh, well we should do something about all of this gray.” (Ummm….ok, take a deep breath before responding Michele.) So I said to her, “Well, I actually love my gray hair. I think it’s beautiful.“ The woman was caught off guard completely, and shockingly said in a choppy manner, “Oh…Well ok.”
So I’m not trying to write a Reader’s Digest story about my most recent salon experience, but I think it really demonstrates my point in this What If blog post. I think we first have to explore what is truly packed into the statement, “We should do something about all of this gray.”
We’ll get the obvious out of the way first. Who decided that gray hair had no value or wasn’t an acceptable standard? No seriously…who made that rule? Let me teach you a really cool trick to answer these seemingly unanswerable questions in life. I will also always give credit where credit is due, so for this “cool trick,” I have to give credit to my beloved friend and mentor, Dr. Rebecca Martusewvicz, who first taught me this when I was taking social justice education classes under her in grad school. So here it is folks. All you have to do is ask yourself one question. “Whose interests are being served if I support this line of thinking?” In other words, if I choose to believe that gray hair is “bad,” and I decide to take some sort of action to change the gray hair….what people/businesses/stocks/etc. are going to benefit from me buying into this way of thinking? At least in this country (U.S. for anyone reading from another country), it’s a pretty safe bet that if you’re buying it or buying into it, than someone is making money somewhere. I’m not knocking capitalism by any means, but at some point a line was crossed when we started commodifying our youth and telling ourselves that money really could buy anything (i.e. “slow down” or “reverse” the aging process).
So let me get to the point that maybe isn’t so clear. Does it sound logical to pay money (and a LOT of it in this country) to try to alter any part of your body for the purpose of hoping others (or you even!) will think you’re younger than you are while at the same time knowing that there is truly nothing you can do to stop the aging process? Oh, and by the way, *spoiler alert* once that part of your life story has unfolded (aging process), you then die, which sort of makes the whole “pay lots of money to stay young” scheme seem even more absurd.
Perhaps my words appear to be judgmental to some readers, but my vision is and always will be to try to influence women to think about the power of loving themselves just as they are at every point in their lives. I meet more and more women every day that have been duped into believing that they (just as they are in that glorious moment) are somehow not good enough, and you know what? IT’S A LINE OF B.S.! (repeat after me) IT’S A LINE OF B.S.!
See folks, (and this goes for men and women, but women are the bigger marketing audience), if you spend time thinking about just ONE thing this week, I’d like to ask that you think about this. Our bodies are the most amazing “things” ever. They endure all sorts of self-inflicted abuse (and even abuse that is inflicted by others). They respond to an ever-changing environment, they house and protect the essence of who we are (a.k.a. our souls or spirit-self), they hold all of the emotions we've spent a lifetime trying not to feel, and for many women, their bodies literally sacrifice themselves in order to nurture and support the growth of another entire human being (which is a true miracle)! Our bodies are an entire eco-system of awesomeness, working every single day to support all of the demands we place upon them, and we’ve become so entirely disconnected from our bodies that we no longer treat them with the reverence that they so deeply deserve. So here’s what I propose.
What if we chose to wake up each morning, look in the mirror, smile, and say to ourselves, “Wow, YOU are gorgeous!” What if instead of getting those lifts, tucks, implants, peels, and color treatments, we really looked at every single wrinkle and gray hair and bulge of fat and appreciated the sacrifices our bodies have made to keep us alive? (Now THAT is profound!) What if we lived in a culture that actually respected our elders (a.k.a. the elderly) instead of a culture where we often spend our time fearing the day when we look like them? Can you even imagine the liberating power of simply loving your body just as it is today (and every day thereafter)? You’d probably find you have a lot more time to do other things and even more money in your bank account. I’ll end this post with a short poem that I wrote a few years ago, and I hope you'll consider trying to love your body in all of its gloriousness today.
By Michele Zehr
What of my life is held in this body?
What stories of adventure are told by these bones?
Is this flesh the totality and the sum of me?
Skin and muscle
Hanging, flapping, swinging
Bumps, bulges, wrinkles, spots, scars, moles
All words….of chapters….of stories….
Housing the essence of I.
Cellulite glistening in the sun, saying to all that notice
“I have lived…do you want to hear?”
Time passing…bringing the inevitable dis-ease of change
Where did this body come from?
Who is that person I see in the mirror’s reflection?
What becomes of me once the flesh is no longer desirable?
Do I cease to exist…if so, then what was my life’s Truth?
To search for Truth is to honor all of what tells our story
To fully honor is to embrace tightly with love,
The one thing in our entire life that has ever truly been
Ours to love.