Brown [Haired] Girl by
(15 Stories)

Prompted By Haircuts

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This is not my hair, but it is about the right color and style.

This is not really about haircuts, but about hair. Like many women I know, I started coloring my hair when it started showing gray. In my case, I was in my 40s. No one seemed to notice the gray, but people started telling me I looked tired and asked me if I was feeling well. I decided the gray was making me look washed out, so I started coloring it.

There are a few privileges of getting old. Maybe gray hair is one of them.

The problem with coloring is that you have to keep doing it, or you get this two-tone look. I have seen women who can carry off that look, but I am not one of them. I look like someone wearing a skunk pelt on my head. The other reason to keep doing it is that I discovered as I got older that age discrimination in employment is a real thing. Coloring my hair and removing my graduation dates from my resume – as well as summarizing my first twenty or so years of employment with no dates – at least held it off until I could make my case.

But 2020 was not only the year of the pandemic, it was also the year I retired. (Actually, I had been gradually cutting back on the amount of work I was doing for a decade or so, but 2020 was the year I officially “retired.”) So no more fighting perceptions of what old people can’t do, and no one would see me growing it out – at least no one who wasn’t working at my local grocery store.

After the first few months of the pandemic, I started getting occasional haircuts, so that now, a year later, the brown is completely gone and I have all gray hair. The other day in the grocery store, a woman called me “ma’am” and let me in line in front of her. I think there may be some privileges to getting old. Or I may just follow the example of a friend, who colors her light gray hair a lovely shade of purple.

Profile photo of Kathy Porter Kathy Porter

Characterizations: funny, well written


  1. Suzy says:

    That hair in the picture is lovely, Kathy, and I’m sure yours is too. I’ve only had one haircut since the pandemic started – in December, for the Atlanta trip – and that took off half my brown. I think in another month I will get it cut again and get rid of the rest. But when we get together again, we will still feel like teenagers.

  2. I have a few purple-headed friends Kathy.
    I think it’s not for me but if it makes them happy, why not!

  3. Risa Nye says:

    Congratulations! Don’t look back! The hardest part is behind you. Now just enjoy the freedom from foil.

  4. Betsy Pfau says:

    Go for it Kathy. I think purple would look great.

  5. Marian says:

    Been through the same thing, Kathy, loved your recounting. I’m thinking of lilac for mine, but maybe I’ll try a streak first.

  6. Laurie Levy says:

    Good for you, Kathy. Sorry I didn’t do the same thing over this past year. No one can possibly believe someone my age has brown hair.

  7. I enjoyed this combination of personal and sociological history! And the last sentence was a well-chosen killer!

  8. That’s me with the purple hair, Kathy! Most people figure out that it’s not natural;-)
    Nice piece!

  9. Kathy Porter says:

    But I’m sure it’s lovely. Thanks!

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