Going Natural

Kate Stephenson and Mark BatesIt is being discussed more and more.  Women in their 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s are deciding to cut the hair color and return to their ever lightening roots.  I’m curious, so I’ve asked some friends who have stopped coloring to share their experience with me.

Linda had been coloring her hair from her 20’s.  Because it grew so fast, she would have a color line within a week or so, and needed to color every 2 weeks.  About 6 years ago she decided to stop and go back to her own hair color, which she calls silver, or platinum.  When I asked her why, she said it was because of the pain it was causing…the physical pain from the chemicals, and the emotional pain, being so tired of feeling self-conscious when the gray would start growing out.  “At the time I was dating someone who was not in favor of the silver.  Soon after the relationship ended, I chopped off all of the color damaged, dead hair and took it as short as I could,” adding that it was a bit of a shock, even to her.  When I asked her if she saw any downside to going natural she offered, “After I started growing the silver out I’ve had nothing but compliments. The only reason that someone would not get compliments is if they didn’t style their hair.“

When I asked her what advice she would give to anyone thinking about taking the plunge she said, “If they had darker hair, I would encourage them to start by going with some highlights, blonde goes to silver easier– because when you go from dark to silver, it is too difficult, and with highlights you won’t have that nasty skunk line.  Get as close to platinum as possible.  Otherwise, chop it all off.  It felt amazing.”

Because Linda has beautiful olive skin, hazel eyes and looks much younger than her years, when she was coloring her hair blonde she got hit on often by younger men, fifteen to twenty years younger.  Now that she has gone silver, that doesn’t happen anymore.  She is grateful.  The younger men were not always the most tactful and it would often be hurtful when they found out her age.

“I didn’t feel natural, or pretty, coloring my hair.  I am so grateful that I listened to my intuition, and not my ex-boyfriend.”  Linda adds that just a little bit of platinum highlight keeps it light around her face.  She shares that her hair is much healthier and thicker, another reason to be very happy about the decision to go natural.

When I asked Linda how her business life has been affected she dropped her voice to that solid, personal truth telling tone, “I feel embracing my natural hair color and doing what I wanted to do has brought me in line with being authentically who I am.  This has made me feel more comfortable and has led me to coming into my own.  People see my natural hair and expect me to be a more real person, or maybe I am a more real person.“  Linda Sack is a licensed message therapist and came to that profession after she made the decision to stop coloring her hair, leaving a corporate career behind, and feels that massage therapy is perfect for her.

My lovely friend Marilyn Shriver, who colored for over 25 years, and has the most beautiful white hair now, says, “What kept me coloring was that someone told me that if I let my hair go natural, because I was fair, I would disappear from the neck up.”   This turned out to be mis-information.  She says, “I get more compliments on my hair since I stopped coloring it.  My obsession with hair has diminished.  The hair is much better hair and I have accepted that I am the age that I am.  Everybody’s aging at the same rate.”

So, I am thinking about it more.  The first reason is because my hair is thinning from the chemicals.  Another, besides embracing the real, I’d like to simplify my life and spend time doing the things I enjoy most.

This is part one of a two-part article.  Come back next month as I continue the exploration of going natural with a native Nashvillian who was selected from a group of 7,000 women to represent a world wide cosmetic company, not entirely because of her beautiful platinum locks, but she wouldn’t have gotten the job without them.

About Renee Bates

Renee is the executive director of the non-profit, Greenways for Nashville, a member based organization. In addition to growing private support for the trails and green spaces, she enjoys oil painting, hiking, nature and working in the garden. Renee is married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, a 3rd generation business begun in 1932 by a savvy woman, Bessie Bates.

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Photo Credit: Nfocus Magazine; Kate Stephenson & Mark Bates attend Authors in the Round Dinner, Humanities Tennessee

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