Obliterating A Main Source of Vanity

Vanessa Torre

I’m not getting any younger so I might as well do it now.

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Photo by Elijah O’Donnell via Pexels

The path to self-love and radical self-acceptance is a long one. I’ve been walking it for a long time and I can honestly say I have turned back and started over more than a few times. It’s not easy. It sounds big and bold but it’s dark and unruly regardless of the number of women who have traversed it before me.

Without fail, I get to the point where I start to feel remotely okay about the direction I’m heading and then someone or something throws 9,382 images at me designed to make me feel like there is nothing but danger and despair ahead of me and the only way to be safe again is to turn and run.

It’s like Little Red Riding Hood running into the Big Bad Wolf when she’s almost to her grandmother’s house. It’s maddening. When I fall for it, again, it becomes infuriating.

There are certain points of vanity to which I cling. I have recently started going to a woman every week and paying her to glue eyelashes to my actual eyelashes. Absolutely vain. But, I do it for me and I love it. Something about it is fun. I can’t explain why.

I love getting manicures. Seeing deep, rich colors on my fingertips all day, every day brings me joy. Color, to me, is something to be experienced and felt deeply. Ironically, this is exactly where I’m drawing the line.

I’m letting July 29th be the last time I color over my gray hair. I’m letting it go natural. I’m officially done. I'm over it. I. Am. Scared.

So why am I doing this if I’m scared? Partly because something about it feels right. It never has before. I feel compelled now. There comes a time when decisions need to be made. This is mine. There are other reasons and some might be weird.

Partly, it’s a feminist stance.

Being a woman right now is hard. The economy is partly dependent on women feeling bad about themselves. No, seriously. If women gave up everything we did to make ourselves feel “presentable” to the outside world, it would create a dip in the stock market that would make men scratch their heads for decades. That’s the financial impact of our insecurity.

Don’t believe me? The average woman spends the equivalent of four years of college tuition on her appearance in her lifetime. Meanwhile, men get to walk around this world with silver peeking out from all over their heads and it’s totally fine.

It’s not just acceptable for men to age, but it’s revered and suddenly that man becomes the attractive silver fox. Women? We just become the old gray mare that ain’t what she used to be.

That is not okay and I’m not having it anymore.

I don’t know what is going to happen.

I have no idea how much gray is under this heap of dyed brown hair. From what I learned during lockdown, it’s a sufficient amount. But, here’s what’s fun about getting to a certain point in your life: curiosity becomes greater than fear.

I have lived long enough to know that what I am curious about will (most likely) not kill me. Curiosity is fun. It’s exhilarating. It’s an adventure. Who doesn't want more adventure in their life?

There is some testing of strength and resiliency here. There will be times (I see you months six through nine) that I am going to want to quit and run back, again, to where I started. There’s a calmness in just letting things be. The more I can let be right now, the better I feel.

Maybe I’m back to wanting to be invisible, but differently.

I’m not gonna lie. I love my hair. It’s dark and thick and full and has always been a source of attraction for men. I am a good few months out of a bit of heartbreak and cutting off the main supply of what men see first when they see me feels safe. Some men will not want to give me the time of day. Me being all “old” and stuff.

Of course, to the right man, I’ll be visible, and perhaps that a test, too.

Any man who would be turned off by a woman who owns herself and her own self image so strongly and confidently as to let her hair be naturally gray “before its time” is not the man for me.

It’s a weird weeding out process. If I can accept myself as I am and someone else can’t, that’s fine. The intention is to create more love in my life. If that has to come from within, so be it.

I. Just. Don’t. Care.

I think this may officially be the ounce of care I have to give. For real. Part of my hesitation in doing this has been fear of what people will think. I just do not have any space to hold for that.

I have come to a point in my life where I look around at everything that does not serve me well and ask myself “what other shit can I burn down?” This. I can burn this down. I can cut myself loose from this idea that in order to be desirable I have to have a huge head of flowing dark brown hair. Nope. I don’t.

I’m not here on Earth to be desired by other people. I’m here to make it through this life burning a badass swath as large as I can make it and I have a lot of matches in my pocket.

I’m not afraid of a little fire.

So what happens now?

My hairdresser has the most amazing salt and pepper hair. She’s going to understand. I think she’ll be excited. We’ll devise a plan. I will let her know not to let me talk me out of this.

Beyond anything, this is an act of self-expression. This is me exploring myself. This is not moving outside of my comfort zone, it’s me making it bigger. I want the realm of what I feel good inside to be as big as I can make it. It’s no longer…out there. It’s here with me.

With my hair no longer a point of decoration on my body, I get to play with everything else. Brighter colors. Bolder lipstick. Bigger earrings. I get to add color to my canvas in a different way.

More than anything, this gives me some room to breathe. This is gonna be fun. This is gonna be real fun.

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Flaming pinball, nerd, music lover, wine snob, horrible violin player. No, she won’t stop taking pictures of her drinks. vanessaltorre@gmail.com IG: vanessaltorre Twitter: @vanessaltorre

Phoenix, AZ
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