I have an unusual perspective on ageing because I literally aged overnight.
I had my first grey hair at 16 and started colouring my hair when I was 24. My mom never coloured her hair and was grey by 30, so I knew what was coming. I always intended to stop colouring my hair someday. Meanwhile, a much stronger Youth Culture took hold, and now most women continue to colour their hair into their 60s and 70s. I can understand it, because – how do you stop? The usual way is to choose a shade lighter than your current colour every few months or years, until you are blonde, and then “fade” to grey. But as a very dark-haired brunette, I never wanted to go blonde, even as an interim measure. I couldn’t keep going as I had been, though, because over time my skin colour became lighter, and the contrast was too glaring.
When I was 40, I started getting lighter-coloured foils, and I tried somewhat lighter all-over shades, but I didn’t feel like myself. My hair grows alarmingly fast, and I needed a colour and cut every 4 weeks. The expense was getting too much! I down-scaled salons several times to get a cheaper rate. Finally I realized I just could not get my hair done every 3 weeks (or do it myself) to keep up. I was not convinced that using hair colour so frequently, no matter what type, was safe.
I made up my own technique. I decided to let my roots grow out to one inch and then get my hair cut so that it was only one inch long and completely grey. The hardest part, by far, was showing up at work and at various social and holiday events with those roots! But after 10 weeks, I took the plunge. Here is the result:
There was still a bit of hair colour on the ends, which was taken care of the next month, until I got the result you see in my blog photo:
People I knew walked by me and didn’t recognize me. Two years later, I still run into people whom I haven’t seen in two years, and I have to stop them and introduce myself! The most immediate change was that, for a little while, I became invisible. I was A Woman of a Certain Age. People no longer checked me out. I was used to “the male gaze,” and equally, women inspecting me from afar to figure out how old I was (either in mockery or in appreciation). Suddenly it just stopped. Weird! Since then, I have “grown into” my look, and I would guess I appear more confident, so The Gaze – and the Assessment Looks have returned. But only among lookers over 35, LOL!
One of the things I enjoy most is that there are a very few young women out there who have gone grey at a young age (I see them at the Farmers’ Market!) and they give me winks of solidarity. And especially since I have become more fit, I’m told I look younger. At the library where I work, a lot of older women compliment me on my hair, and I think they feel validated when someone chooses not to deny ageing. I also find that folks in their 20s and younger treat me with some deference because of age.
But my hair is only one indicator. Lately I’ve been thinking about all the signs of ageing, and which ones I’ve got. I am turning 49 this week so they are starting to add up!
Physical Signs of Ageing
- Grey hair – Yep!
- Wrinkles – No (being a non-smoker and non-tanner has helped)
- Thinner face – Yes – getting some indentations – not planning on Botox! Male readers can substitute “jowliness” for thinner face 🙂
- Skin colour (face) – Fading
- Age spots – No
- Hands – Somewhat gnarlier?
- Posture – The same, I hope (I have definitely not shrunk)
- Aches and pains – No, but The Spouse has them on a daily basis!
- Hot flashes – No
- Vision – I have had progressive lenses for 3 years now
- Hearing loss (TV louder) – I had my hearing checked because I couldn’t hear Rom and Link very well when they spoke to me from another room or if there was a lot of background noise. The audiologist said my hearing was fine and they had unrealistic expectations. Vindicated!
- Weight gain – My weight has gone up by as much as 30 pounds several times in my adult life and I was always able to lose it again. No change this latest occasion (it wasn’t harder to lose weight) but I always intend for any weight loss to be permanent!
- Slow reaction time, startling – Not yet
- Medications for blood pressure, cholesterol – No
- Diabetes – No
- Change lifestyle/habits to adapt to body issues such as a bad back – No, but I’m too non-athletic to have ever had a sports injury!
I would say that good health has kept this category at bay, for the most part. Score: 5 out of 16 Geezer Indicators!
Other Signs of Ageing
- Forgetfulness – I think my ability to find my keys is about the same as ever
- Mistrust and paranoia – Only when they really are out to get me
- Over-caution – I was always impatient with older women who walked in the snow and looked down at their feet after every step and figured out if they were going to slide, before taking the next step. Not quite there yet.
- Slow driving – Not a chance, just ask Rom!
- Clumsiness – Yes. I always seem to be dropping things. I’m guessing there are 2 factors: that my depth perception has changed, and/or that I am always carrying way too much stuff so I can take fewer trips when I put things away.
- Counting exact change – Guilty!
- Showing up early – No, but maybe I can do that when I retire
- Difficulty learning new skills (such as using cell phone) – No, except for physical ones – I will not be signing up for zumba any time soon!
- Like routine versus new experiences – I blogged about this here. As I get older, I want to do more of what I already know I like!
- Like comfort, lower toleration for discomfort – Yes. But I was never much for roughing it.
- Interest in family history – Strangely, I went through this phase in my 20s
- Interest in gardening – Check!
- Wear cardigans – Check!
- Wear socks with sandals – Never!
- Reminiscing, nostalgia – Try to avoid – the present matters, too
- Trying to teach young folks by giving examples from my own life – I gave up on this about 5 years ago when I realized that tales of my high school and university days were increasingly irrelevant
- Outdated clothes, decor, interests – Probably. I was just reviewing my cross-stitch supplies this week and thinking of taking it up again! And besides, I have a pink poodle crochet toilet paper cozy that is still fashionable (J/K!)
- Talk about weather – No more than usual, not a weather geek
- Talk about rising costs – Yep, can’t resist
- Talk about Young People Today – I have held off, so far!
Score: 9 out of 20 Geezer Indicators!
Readers under 40 are hereby forbidden from assessing themselves for signs of ageing. Everyone else: comment if you dare!
I can always count on you to cheer me up! I laughed so much at your post – it was like receiving one of those funny emails at work. I need to do an assessment now of myself just to compare how I am doing although I have a few years on you. I am the opposite when it comes to hair and colour- I have never had to colour my hair being a fairly bright Ginger all my life. People do ask what colour I use. I believe I will go snow white rather than grey. My mum is 87 and still has her own colour – maybe I will have her gene!
PS How glamorous you look in the second picture – I do love short hair – on other people – it looks hideous on me – I don’t have the right face shape at all.
PPS I am only just managing to keep up with your abundance of postings – by the time I have read everyone’s new posts I have no time left to write my own!!
It makes me happy that there are some people of own my generation reading! Thanks for following what you can – I have put myself on a 3x/week posting schedule, so no need to keep up!
You look great!! Some people can pull off grey hair and still look quite young–you are one of those people. I think I may color my hair forever but fortunately my hair is light enough that I don’t have to color it too often (the greys kind of blend in unless you look really close). I’m trying not to agree with all of your other signs of ageing but there are definitely more “yes” answers than there were a few years ago. eekkk
Of course, there are young people with “old” habits too, so maybe it doesn’t mean anything! Thanks for reading!
Ah, too funny! I’ve only once coloured my hair (with out of date marked down hair colour!). Actually, I’m heading to the head shave in about a month – so I feel more confident seeing your transition for some reason! Even I (at 27) say ‘when I was at school’ (esp seeing I was working in schools a few years ago). Oh so old I am!
Sarah, you young’un! You need a blog so I can see your before and after photos!
Oh I just love this post!! Both of my SIL’s colour their hair regularly, my sis has had grey forever, she’s 5 years younger than me, and I just started getting grey about 2 years ago, but I hardly have any. I’m 38, but most think my 14 yr. old daughter & I are sisters. lol! And you’re right, not smoking, not tanning, makes all the difference in the world! 🙂 I plan on keeping my hair “Au naturel”… after all, getting older is better than the alternative! 😉
I think my sister likes that I have grey hair because it makes her look comparatively younger, LOL! So far, I don’t mind ageing – all the other changes have been gradual!
I love your hair!!! I’m not quite grey enough to pull that off yet, so I continue to colour my hair. LOL I also find that while I am a college student surrounded by teens and early twenty-somethings the gray tends to make me fit in even less. I hate hearing, “Go ask the woman with the gray hair.” But since I wear my hair very short all the time, every couple of months I do a check in with my natural colour vs grey ratio to assess when I can stop the dying.
That is a good idea because then you’ll be mentally prepared. Where I work at the library, I am also referred to as The One with the Grey Hair!
I know this an old post (just found your blog) but wante to say that the short, grey style makes you look younger than your ‘before’ style.
Thank you; I think that the “forced” look of dark hair against pale skin is especially ageing. I am also pleased that I haven’t been offered any seniors discounts yet 🙂
Oh dear, managed to press enter too soon..
As I am under 40, I’ve resisted the temptation to check how many ‘geezer’ indicators I am showing..! I suspect it might be quite a few… I work with lots of active, retired people (volunteers) and I’ve noticed that ill health and, perhaps most importantly, attitude are the main factors that age a person. I’m often shocked by how old some people are- for example, one lady that I’d have probably guess was 50 turns out to be nearly 70…
I agree; ill health, mobility problems, and grumpiness age a person! But my pet peeve is older people who have outdated views (like racism) and defend it by saying they are too old to change.
Thankfully I have not come across too many people with such views who are “too old to change” (although it may be that the circumstances for them expressing their views has just not come up). As I get older, I want to try and avoid the “stick in my ways” mentality- despite being a creature of habit!
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