Got White Hair? You Are Senile!

Miss Dorothy, who cut and colored my hair for years, retired. I was devastated. After all, she’s just a kid – she’s only sixty. However, after I understood that she had a good reason to call it quits, I wished her well.

But I miss her. She could make my sparse locks look as big and mean as an angry hornet’s nest.

Most of all I miss her wisdom. For example, she said that she would rather be bald than have white hair. I really didn’t get the significance of that until I decided to let my hair go back to its natural color – white.

Miss Dorothy grudgingly made the color change during the last months she worked and at the end, insisted on putting on some blond color. “No one is going to call you a little old lady with this sexy color,” she assured me.

I quickly let the blond thing go. Too much trouble to keep it up.

Big mistake.

No – a huge mistake.

Now, for women whose hair is gray, white or something in between, and happy with it – my blessings upon you. May you never suffer “white hair discrimination.”

Here’s the thing: When you have white hair, you are perceived as o-l-d. No matter what your face and or body look like, white hair categorizes you in an instant. It tells the world who and what you are, even if you are prematurely gray or white. You are an old person. There is no getting around it.

What’s wrong with that? Well, basically, people, especially young people, treat you differently. It’s not my imagination – it’s real. It goes beyond the “looking old” issue – it relates to perception of ability. “Old” women simply aren’t viewed as competent as young people.

It’s different with men. They can have white hair, no hair, a face full of overgrown grubby vegetation, look like a grizzled old goat, and it’s okay. They don’t look old. They look distinguished. They are considered competent. Yuck.

In the doctor’s office recently, the young nurse gave me instructions for taking care of my husband’s minor surgery. She didn’t explain it to him – I guess that since he looks older than I and has white hair, she assumed he was too senile to understand.

She spoke directly to me as if he didn’t exist. What needed to be done wasn’t difficult: clean the incision with antibacterial solution and apply antibiotic ointment daily. Then she said to me, “Do you need me to write that down?” Well, maybe some folks would appreciate that but I didn’t.

Please don’t assume I’m senile until there is tangible evidence!

I’m thinking – if my hair color were different, would it have made a difference? Would she have taken for granted that I had the ability to understand and remember what she said?

Then there was the young woman who asked if I had any great grandkids. Excuse me? My grandchildren are barely teenage.

I’m thinking – if my hair were a young color, would the question have been about grandkids instead of great grandkids? Would she have asked about kids at all?

Then there’s the annoyance at the supermarket. I know baggers are trained to offer help out to the car, but please, I can carry a head of cabbage all by myself.

Long story short: As soon as I find a replacement for the irreplaceable Miss Dorothy, I’m going to get a buzz cut. I have plenty of gel to make it stand up straight in the air. You know the look – “biker babe.” And I’ve already purchased the sexy blond color Miss Dorothy would have used.

I asked my husband what he thought about my proposed hair cut and color. He assumed his irritating professorial stance and opined, “Hmmm. I don’t think so. However, if you got tattoos on both your biceps it might work.”

I knew I shouldn’t have asked.

I’m going to go ahead with the buzz cut and blonde bombshell color – but not the tattoos. But I’ll mull it over. My husband is rarely wrong. Even though he has white hair, I know he’s not senile.