Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Bye bye "Cousin It"

2 days ago I made the decision to go through with something I'd been thinking about for a few years. I followed through with it today - yea!
My hair has always been one of my best, if not my best, features. Throughout my childhood, Dad worked for the hair products company, LA Jones in Oakville. They manufactured the hair colour line ROUX, various shampoos and conditioners. They had a lab and… a chemist. He'd formulate various concoctions which Dad would bring home for Mom, me and my sisters to try out. 

I don't know whether it's due to those products or genetics but, we all have great hair. 

Mom's was full and thick till the day she died; becoming steel grey as she aged. She always fantasized about visiting Hawaii; never got there. We scattered her ashes in Lake Ontario to join Dad's but I strew some of her locks in various spots on the Big Island of Hawaii, and now her genes rest there too. 

My older sister's dark brown hair was smooth and shiny and so strong that it could hold the pencils I put in the curl of the flip she sported throughout high school. She, like me, began to turn grey quite early in life. But her hair was a stunning true grey which highlighted her darker complexion, thick dark brows, lush eyelashes and deep-blue "Betty Davis" eyes. She later dyed her short hair, exploring: auburn, blonde, highlights and lowlights (as I once did) opting for the more youthful look it imparts.

My younger sister's blonde, unbroken, split end-less, hair is more resistant to the greying process and so thick it could choke a horse! She kept it long throughout high school (as did I) but surrendered that look in university opting for sporty, shorter cuts. She's flirted with the idea of growing it, beyond the bob, but I suspect that the sheer weight of it and the time it would take to dry would be daunting.

From short to long - except for shaving my head - I've tried it all. Yes, even the mullet…cutting my own hair to maintain that horrendous look, and NO you are not going to see it here. But people remember me mostly as the woman with "the hair". Long and chestnut coloured as a teenager, young adult and again (with some assistance) in my early '40's; long and predominantly grey these past few years. 

I gave up the fight against going grey years ago. The henna that I'd preferred began to give my hair a strange orange hue due to the increasing percentage of grey. Home tinting jobs ceased to do the trick convincingly for that same reason. Professionally done highlights and lowlights became the best solution as they blended with the roots that showed through within the first week (my hair grows fast). 

But, I'm lazy and cheap. Could I let it go grey?

In the beginning of the greying process my hair was just washed out, colourless, neither dark nor fully grey. That's when the high and low lights eased the transition; got me used to seeing lighter hair against my face. It allowed me to see when the true, fully grey colour was coming through and dominating. Once that happened I was ready to let it take over.

I grew my hair and wondered just how long it could get? During menopause, shoulder-length was about it before the ends would break. However, these last few years it's grown like a weed! And I've enjoyed it.

But, it's taken over. I've felt less like me and more the "woman with the hair". Kinda what I suspect having a parasitic twin could feel like. It's there all the time, you can't hide it. People give you second looks. They comment on it. "Wow, you've got great hair" they've shouted to me from across the street. It's all the more impressive because I'm short and it's unusual to see someone my age with long hair. 

I've lavished a lot of tender care and attention to maintaining it…too much. I'm surprised that flipping the hair from one side to the other in my sleep each time I turn over hasn't given me whiplash. Constantly having it in a ponytail to get it out of the way takes away from the purpose of having it long. Freeing it from back packs, shoulder-bag straps, chairs in restaurants and movie theatres has become a common occurrence. The weight of it and the slightly "cousin IT" appearance I've taken on when it's down (see first picture) isn't the sexy image the idea of long hair promises, at least not for 4' 10" me. My obsession with it has become tedious, it's like being in a high maintenance relationship.

So I chopped it off. Well technically that's not correct…thanks to Allexys Peterson at Sigma Squared Salon in Victoria for giving me such a great cut and taking the before and after pics.

Now, I haven't been thinking about chopping it off for years but, I have been thinking that when I did, I'd donate it to a good cause.

Weird note: I'm stunned by the variety of colours this swatch of hair contains: dark brown, reddish-brown, even blonde, along with the grey. Though the overall effect is grey, you can see it's much more than that!

So basically I chopped off most of my non-grey hair.

There are many great causes out there for making wigs for people with alopecia, kids programs and older people with grey hair.

I'm very happy to have achieved this goal as I didn't have the patience to hang on for the extra inches the last time I cut it, nor the daring to go quite this short. It helped that I knew, from the last cut Allexys gave me, that she'd do a great job.

I'm donating mine, mailing it later today with the aid of the label they supply online to print out and use, to the Canadian Cancer Society. Click on this link to get info about what they need, preparing the hair and making the cut. Most salons are familiar with the process.

NOTE: some organizations don't take grey hair and some prefer that the hair isn't braided - check this out before you send it off.

And so I leave you today, lighter in body, mind and spirit. I think I'll go outside and let my short, greyer hair blow in the wind.

I actually began writing this yesterday - so today is day 2 of my new cut.


  1. Nance that's amazing! I'm so impressed you did that- and you look great! If I had any hair worth mentioning I like to think I'd follow suit- what a true gift of love to your fellow women. Love you, my friend / Glyn

    1. Thanks so much Glynnie. I feel very fortunate to be able to do this for sure!
      Love you too, council sister