Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

What is the purpose of hair anyway?  I actually do know the answer to that question, at least I think I do.  Way back in our evolutionary existence as cavemen and caveladies, I suspect our hair was there for protection against the elements.  As we progressed through the timeline of our being human , seems as though we needed it less and less as time marched on.

It’s amazing the lengths that we go to today to increase it’s worth, while at the same time the drastic measures we invest it to take it away.  A quick google search reveals that women spend upwards of $10,ooo over a lifetime for various hair removal methods from shaving, to waxing to depilatory creams.  I know it is not de rigueur in all parts of the world.  And it’s funny how differing attitudes about hair exist in different geographical areas.  Because I am so used to our own culture, it does gross me out a bit to see long underarm hair on a woman.  Eeeww, I think to myself, and how gross is it to put on deodorant with all that mess under there.  My take is, I guess if you can hack it, more power to you, but it would make me crazy.  I get annoyed when I realize I miss a spot under my arms because I can’t quite see like I used to, and am not really up for wearing my bifocals in the shower.  And who thought up that barbaric torture of wax removal?  I admit I’ve had it done several times, but have to work myself up to it.  I can remember one time I actually kicked the beautician because I was so unprepared for how it hurt.  Oh, the price we pay for smooth, unstubbled skin.

Women also spend a lot of time and energy on hair styling and upkeep as well.  Updos, ponytail holders, combs, hairsprays, gels, coloring, shampoos, conditioners–I could go on for a century. Yet another quick google search reveals that women can spend upwards of two and a half years, and as much as $50,000 on their hair.  Wow.  Now that’s a big chunk of your time and cashola.  That’s a down payment on a house right there.

Guess it’s not so hot a topic for men, as a quick search didn’t reveal any obvious hits.  But I see men spending a decent amount on their locks as well.  Many times as I’m waiting for my kids to finish up in the barber I marvel at how many men come in to get a hair cut, when it already seems short enough as it is.  Guess that the price for them to keep it neat looking.

Probably of more importance to the men, would be how much there is of it.  ABC news reported that men spend nearly $1 billion dollars annually to fight baldness. Much to the chagrin of many of my extended family, many of my relatives have been endowed with the an increasing lack of hair over time.  I know more than a few gents that started losing their hair quite early in life.  I remember helping out in a restaurant during a busy time in a hotel that I used to work in, and someone was calling my name. When I figured out where they were sitting and I went over to investigate, I was having an awful time trying to figure out how I had known this person. It finally  dawned me who he was, but only because I realized that he had significantly less hair than the last time I had seen him, just a couple years earlier.  He was one of the guys I had hung out with for four years in college and he had even dated long term one of my gal pals.  I couldn’t believe such a silly thing as hair could have clouded my memory so much that I couldn’t even recognize one of my old friends.

It’s also rather intriguing what men do to disguise the fact that they are losing their hair. The classic comb over, that spray on stuff to cover the bald spots, and the dreaded toupee.  I guess there are better versions of each of the above, and I know that hair plugs have come a long way.  But, I think I would find a man more attractive if he would just embrace the baldness or shave it all off.   I tend to think that most people don’t really pay attention to whether or not you have hair not, especially as your personality takes over at some point in time as they get to know you. If you decide to go the other route, it just might go more unfavorably against you, as far as people might remember you.  I still distinctly remember my 6th grade male teacher, who had a pretty mean comb over, walking outdoors with our class one day when a gust of wind blew all of his hair completely off of his crown.  Ever since that day, I always conjured up a picture of him in my mind scrambling to shove that sacred swath of hair back onto his head.

Let alone the regular maintenance of the basic cut, trim and style, another big black hole hemorrhaging from one’s wallet would have to be hair coloring. I can’t really say from my personal experience how many men do it, but I suspect a fair amount do–Ronald Reagan comes to mind, even though from what I’ve read, he swears it was always au naturelle.  Being a woman in my 40’s, I have been dying my hair for years.  Even before I actually dyed it, for years a teenager I had spritzed my hair with lemon juice to help my hair get blonder faster during the summer months  As I got into my 20s, and had less time for basking in the sun, a gal pal of mine pulled out the highlighting kit and started lightening up my hair, paying particular attention to those pesky little grays that started to pop up at the young age of 22.  By that point in time, my blonde locks had increasingly become a dirtier shade of blonde, and I have to say highlighting it, just made it look prettier.  It actually looked kind of dirty and dingy, even right after I had washed it. When I did it, it wasn’t a huge difference, but it was enough of a difference that even my male boss took note that something had changed. With every passing year it was harder and harder to cover up those little silver streaks with a touch of highlighting, and had to progress to dying all of my hair to disguise my aging coif.  At $100+ a pop at the salon every month or so, that really adds up.  Women with darker hair going this route have to do it even more often, as much as every three weeks, lest they want to look more like a skunk with a streak of white along their part. Some of my family members don’t have the gray gene so much–I can remember my mother’s mother well into her 80’s hardly having any.  My older brother and sister have not much to speak of either.  Who knows why the color start to fade from your head more in some than in others.  Stress, genes, bad karma.  Got me.

Of late, I’ve decided to kick the coloring routine to the curb and and let my gray take over my once youthful blonde.  I guess after 20 some odd years of dying it, I’m just a bit done with it.   I still have my trepidations every now and then as I look into the mirror and wonder if I’ll be able to hack it when it’s entirely gray–but I’m sure going to try.  I tease my husband that I’m just trying to keep up with him.  It takes certain amount of cojones to give into the gray, especially if you’ve been slave to covering it up for 20 plus years, or at least it feels that way to me.  One of the reasons, aside from the pain of the constant upkeep is the fact that when exactly are you old enough to be gray?  I’ve seen many older women in which their colored locks just look out of place with their aging skin and bodies.  I think it makes them look even older for some reason.  My 9 year old keeps looking at me and going, “Hey mom, boy there’s lots and lots and LOTS of gray up there.”  Thanks Tim, love  you too! And why is it by the way that women with gray hair are labeled as old, and men with gray hair look distinguished?  Not very fair.  But I’m going with it.  I’m hoping my youthful exuberance will outweigh what lies atop my head. If not, what are you going to do, at least I’ll have a whole lot more time and money not worrying about covering up my silvery streaks.

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2 Responses to Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

  1. Mary says:

    I think it looks great and I haven’t noticed the gray at all! I am sticking with the au natural look as well with my dark locks but so far most of the gray is in the back where I can’t see it!

    • Barb Welsh says:

      Thanks Mary, you are a true friend! I can always start calling it platinum instead to make me feel better 🙂

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