Flaunting the most loved combination, an Indigo Blue splashed across a canvas of shimmery Silver-it can’t get better than that! I strutted into the office after five months of a virus- inflicted lockdown, with a glistening head of grays finished neatly at the tips in lightning blue. An artist at heart and an architect by profession, I could only wait to see the reaction that my new look would invite from fellow colleagues, who were as creatively inclined as me.
As expected, I was met with bright sparkling eyes gazing at me with wonder and delight that said, "You have finally managed to do what you intended to, didn’t you?"
Boy! Had I managed to make heads turn for once in my lifetime!! I felt a growing sense of pseudo pride – as though, I had finally 'Arrived'!
“Mast Lag raha hai!!”(It looks awesome!), said some. “You have done what we could only dream of doing.”, said others. It felt like I had received some sort of validation that I had always been looking for – from people who were far from being considered my close circle of friends & were, definitely, not decision makers in my life. The initial flush of complements was soon to be followed with “And what are you going to do about the Grays on top?”.
I suddenly realized that all the kind words about my ‘brave’ act of letting my grays be, were actually intended for the blues at the bottom – the blues that purely accentuated MY idea of how I wanted ME to look.
“It’s going to take a while before the right messaging sinks into them.”, I comfort myself.
It was then that I realized that this was ‘Colourism’ or ‘Rascism’ of a different kind. It’s not as easy to hide your skin colour behind fairness creams, leading to a whole new social movement to call out the stereotypes that cloud our notion of the ‘Ideal’ skin colour. But, the same is not the case with Rascism or Exclusion on account of Hair colour. It’s cakewalk to turn them black or brown with a few simple strokes of a brush ,erasing all traces of gray beneath. There are ample brands in the market, just waiting to tell you how "You are NOT WORTH IT !", if you don’t cover your grays. So, the hide and seek continues ....sometimes, until you have reached your deathbed.
A month had passed since that day and I felt a sense of extreme long awaited comfort in my own skin, Oops!, hair. Those in my situation would identify – a sense of relief against,
a) having to spend 3 hours on a perfectly good Sunday afternoon, preventing your sleepy head from touching the wall behind you, for fear of tarnishing it with the wet colour on your head.
b) having to entertain random conversations, about the traffic in Bombay, with random ladies, who come to touch the roots up.
c) having to revert to people, stopping by my desk to tell me, “Root touchup ka time ho gaya na?” (Isn’t it time for you to get yourself a root touchup?)
No, not anymore!
I believe it’s time for everyone to acclimatize their eyes to seeing people walk around town, with hair that is natural & hair that chooses to be the colour it wants to be!
I believe it’s time for people to break the cliché that ‘gray hair equates to Old age’!
I believe it’s time for people to stop referring to those with gray hair as 'Unkempt', 'Depressed', 'Not presentable enough' or 'One who had lost all hope in life'.
I believe it’s time for people to stop hiding behind a mask of hair colour & yet, tagging their pictures as #NoFilter #BeYourself.
It’s just hair! It doesn't define us as a professional, as a student, as a parent or as a human being. It doesn't make me any less of an architect that I already am or any more intellectual than I seem to be.
As a child with gray hair since the age of 8, I sat down ten months ago at age 40 & said to myself,” I am no longer going to feed the demons that exist in the minds of those around me, with a vision that they feel comfortable with.”
I asked the only person, the impact on whom I would consider , prior to making any decision -- my 11 year old son, "Do you mind if Mummy lets her gray hair be?".
He replied, "Why would I dictate what colour your hair should be!"
I knew I was doing something right. I knew the ‘Messaging’ has sunk in right - where it truly mattered!