To Gray Or Not To Gray, That Is The Question

Blonde Ruth

Blonde Ruth

Ruth Brunette

Brunette Ruth

As a toddler I sported a tousled head of blonde hair. It’s the hair I was born with . It was rightfully mine. Then as I reached the age of four, it betrayed me and turned brown, with only streaks of blonde left. This was my lot in life. I grew up sitting behind girls in class who had gorgeous blonde locks, or magnificent strawberry blonde hair. And mine, alas, had turned brown. Say it out loud. Even the word, brown, sounds boring, ho-hum, common. I was none too pleased with the powers that be, for stealing my halo of silky blonde locks. Ugh. I grew up on a Hollywood diet of beauties like Marilyn Monroe, and I wanted to be one of them, not a movie star, just a blonde.

When I turned 20, I decided to take matters into my own hands and bought a spritzer of Sun-In at the local five and dime. I thought I’d just test drive it to see how a little blonde could spruce up my hair, light up my life. It was a daring act back then. The results were a tad disappointing though, giving my hair just a little golden glow if you caught it in the sun at the right time of day. It was unmistakably still brown. Phooey! The next week I went to the drugstore and purchased my first box of Miss Clairol. After reading the instructions I decided to risk blindness in the pursuit of the blonde hair that was rightfully mine.

I was ready to find out if blondes really do have more fun. Honestly, how much more fun could I handle? I had twin infant daughters, babysat my two nephews, ran a household, and used cloth diapers with no diaper service. I had to go to the local laundromat to wash them, and had no car. I was about maxed out in the fun department. I dyed my hair anyway, during nap time. Was my life about to take a turn for the better? When I got the girls up from their nap, they took one look at my blonde mane and began bawling, stopping only to catch their breath before they resumed wailing. Eventually they got used to it, though they eyed me suspiciously for more than a week, as if to say, what other nasty tricks have you got up your sleeve?

Life went on, the dishes piled up, the garbage still had to be taken out, floors needed to be scrubbed. My marriage ended, I went back to work. I didn’t have much to lose, but I kept my blonde hair. For about 40 years I remained a bottle-blonde, always trying to keep ahead of the dark roots. Back then you wouldn’t want to be caught dead with dark roots. Now it appears to be the “in” look, but I still don’t like it.

As I matured, a.k.a. got older, I grew stronger, more authentic, and I toyed with the idea of going back to my “roots”, letting my hair grow out, embracing the brown. No more trying to avoid the dreaded dark roots. I was ready for this. Giddy almost. However, this natural high came to an abrupt end when I realized, to my horror, while I didn’t have the dreaded dark roots anymore, I had many silver, gray, and white roots woven in among the brown. So, having forsaken the blonde of my entire adult life, if I returned to my brown roots, I’d still need to color my hair to purge the gray!

Here’s the deal – I’m not ready to go gray yet. So the line of BS I’d been feeding myself about going back to my natural color, was a total lie. It would appear that my natural color includes a solid dose of gray, and I want nothing to do with it! I know plenty of women who are vibrant, creative, youthful, fun, AND have beautiful, gray hair. I just can’t go there yet. It’s a corner I’m not ready to turn. Maybe in 5 or 10 or 20 years, but not today. Like when I went from blonde to brown, I’ll know when the time is right. Okay, full disclosure, I cried for two days when I gave up the blonde, but in the end I was happy with my decision. In fact, I now love my thick, luxurious, brown hair. It’s neither boring nor ho-hum. It’s me. It feels like me. It feels good, matches my insides. Gray does not. So to the question, “to gray, or not to gray”, my answer is an emphatic, “Not yet”!


About Ruth Knox

Freelance writer, published in the Canadian and U.S. market. Magazine articles, newspaper columns, guest columns, the arts community, poetry in literary venues, essays in anthologies, published in 4 Chicken Soup for the Soul books, cover story about The Treasure Valley Roller Girls in Idaho Magazine. Now in the editing stage of my non-fiction book for family caregivers, Caregiver's Quilt, a book of companionship, inspiration, laughter, and resources, encouraging caregivers to take good care of themselves too. Now living in Boise ID presently freelancing while working on my book. Member of Idaho Writers' Guild, The Cabin,and National Federation of Press Women. Interests which I like to write about include living a fabulous mid-life, spiritual growth, the writing journey, living joyfully, and finding meaningful connection.
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10 Responses to To Gray Or Not To Gray, That Is The Question

  1. Richard Knox says:

    I married the blond and watched the transition. I think the brunette suits you better. Actually, I am as everyone knows so far ahead regarding grey, I probably shouldn’t have an opinion.


  2. Lorna says:

    I love the brown. Keep it for as long as you want and when you are ready for gray, ease into it by having it streaked in first so the natural transition isn’t so shocking. Colour can’t hide the beauty so just go with the feel.


  3. I loved this article. I started turning gray at age 16, it’s a family thing, so I have been coloring for a long time. After losing all my hair twice now to chemo, I just let it grow as it wants which is petty much all silver. On the plus sign I get senior discounts at drugstores and restaurants, hehehe!
    You are a great writer and I truly enjoy reading you!


    • Ruth Knox says:

      I’ve always admired your wild abandon with hair color, Suzanne. You tried every color under the sun, even before that was a popular thing to do. You were always a vibrant, vivacious woman. Now that your hair is silver, you still are. It wasn’t the hair color at all, it was the you underneath it that made you shine. I know that is true because you even shone when you lost all your hair. You’ll always be a beautiful woman.


  4. As a former salon owner and stylist I will voice my opinion as to your goldie locks. (Something I rarely I like your hair dark looks so real you and healthy and young. I don’t think blonde is right atvall for you. A lovely chestnut or hint of red to spark it up. DON’T BE AFRAID OF SOME COLOR STREAKS.Tiny red blue highlites would be beautiful and brighten up you brunette color.Frame your lovel cheeks and dimples.Helps looking and feeling so young. NO LADY SHOULD JUST GO GREY if still feeling young. Yup Brown…


  5. You would be beautiful and fabulous with any color of hair, Ruth, or with no hair at all. Beautiful is who you are, now how you look. ❤ to you.


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