I love the idea of growing old gracefully. But unfortunately, my body does not always cooperate with this idea. On the contrary, sometimes my body seems to be waging a war against my self-esteem. Since hitting my mid-30s, my metabolism has slowed to a snail’s pace, my boobs have sagged from a pear-shape to something that resembles a deflated balloon and my cheeks are on a downward spiral that hints at the fact that “old-lady jowls” are in my not-so-distant future.
But of all the indignities of getting older, the one that is bothering me most as of late is my hair. And it’s not even the hair on my head that has me the most concerned. But we’ll get to that in a moment.
I started graying in my early 30s, and initially I wasn’t that concerned about it. I haven’t seen my natural hair color since the 9th grade, so it didn’t seem like a big deal that I might be relegated to a life of bottled color. What no one warned me about, though, was the way my hair completely changed texture as the gray started to take over. No one warned me that instead of laying down like normal hair, my hair would begin to grow straight up out of my head. No one warned me that the texture would feel like straw, and that I would have to use an ounce of pomade and judicious hairspray to basically shellac my hair into place each morning, only to be licking my finger to try to tame rogue hairs from standing up on end for the rest of the day.
But then there is the facial hair. Let’s start at the top and move down. First of all, my eyebrows have also turned completely white. I remember hearing a beauty expert talk about the importance of eyebrows as being the picture frames for the face. Well, my picture frames are a hot mess. The color makes them nearly invisible, but the wiry texture means that instead of growing in one direction, the hairs are pointing all over the place. It’s difficult to pencil over white unruly hairs, so recently I’ve taken to dying them myself. This always feels a bit risky because the dye kit usually has stern warnings about NOT using the dye for eyebrows, and the possibility of blindness or eye injury. Although I confess that for me, the biggest risk usually involves accidentally dying the skin surrounding my eyebrows, leaving my lower forehead a strange shade of brown for a few days.
And then there is the chin hair – perhaps the most mortifying aspect of this age-related hair fiasco. I have always had a little peach fuzz on my chin – no biggie. It was blond and soft and not really noticeable. But over the past year, that soft, downy hair has mutated into hard, wiry chin hairs. Basically, for my 36th birthday I got whiskers. It’s gross. It’s way beyond a situation of simple plucking at this point. Waxing is the only thing that does the job. (I’m sure shaving would be effective too, but just . . . NO.)
The thought of living out the next 5 or 6 decades at this level of maintenance is daunting to me. But more daunting is the idea that, should I become infirm at some point, my caretaker may not be willing to put up with the grueling grooming demands of my facial hair. Is there some kind of advanced directive I can fill out letting people know that my greatest wish in my old age is not to be lying in bed with unruly white eyebrows? Because I am pretty much living in fear of someday becoming this guy:
I’m going to stop now, before I feel compelled to post about shaving my toes.