Today at the end-of-day study hall we have, no one felt like studying or working, as we were focused on the increasing intensity of the snow and checking snowdaycalculator.com incessantly and keeping a tally of all the kids who were getting called out of school early (in 35 minutes, over 30 kids were called to the office).
Two students who were sitting near me asked what would I do with my day if school was canceled.
“Probably bake something.”
“What would you bake? Banana bread?” they asked.
“Probably not. I don’t like banana bread and don’t keep bananas around. Maybe pumpkin bread. I haven’t made that in a while. And I’ll probably dye my hair.”
“Oh, just the same color. Too much gray hair. It’s driving me crazy.”
They looked at me with legitimate disbelief.
“Gray hair? Where? Not sucking up here–I don’t see any,” one of them said.
“Yeah, me neither,” said the other.
And I began pointing out all the places I had seen gray hair just this morning as I blow dried my hair. Near the side of my face, right at my part, and when I lifted my hair, tons and tons of gray hair.
“Nope, still don’t see it,” they both said.
“Well, it’s there and it bothers me, so I’m going to fix it.”
In my Pop Culture class, I teach about unreasonable expectations of beauty placed on women. I teach about media-constructed ideas of what beauty looks like. I rail against it. And throughout my teaching career, on more than one occasion, I’ve told girls who came to me, doubting their beauty and worth, that they were beautiful and valuable.
As I drove home today and thought about that conversation about my gray hair, I felt a little ashamed. If either of those girls ever talked to me about something they viewed as a physical beauty flaw, I’m sure I would fall over myself to debunk whatever criticism they leveled against themselves.
So, Steph and Katie, I’m sorry I didn’t set a better example for you today.
Why am I dyeing my hair on the snow day? Because when I dye my hair, I like the way my hair feels–softer. Because when I dye my hair, the darker brown makes my blue eyes totally pop. Because when I dye my hair, I feel a teensy bit more confident.
The fact that it also covers my gray hair is just a bonus.