Veronica got in touch with us when we put out an open call for beauty contributors. A week later we met for coffee, and now two months and a handful of beauty pieces later, I feel confident openly admitting that I’m kind of obsessed with her. We all are! She’s painfully funny, very smart, super real, and obviously so beautiful. Ok ok, I’ll stop now and let Veronica take over and tell you about her experience with beauty standards and self-image, in her own words.
Veronica McCarthy, Writer
At twenty-two I found a single blonde hair on my left temple and jumped for glee. My hair was finally reverting back to its five-year-old-perfectly-highlighted-blonde-self! It was resuming its rightful identity, shunning the boring mouse brown I’d been gifted at the onset of puberty.
That night I proudly paraded my single blonde hair to my then boyfriend, who casually remarked, “Huh. Looks grey to me.”
HOW DARE HE.
It was not grey. I was not grey. To me grey signified shriveled ovary eggs, rolling around, collecting dust in my fallopian tubes because they can’t find the exit due to poor eyesight. I was in my peak, both in terms of fertility and ability to avoid hangovers. I picked a fight and stormed out of his studio for he was not deserving of my new highlighted hair.
Two months later my blonde hair birthed two babies! Now I had a garden of three blonde hairs. Two months later, four more! Then — wait-a-minute. Dammit. He’s right. They are grey.
I was equal parts horrified and amazed by my greys. They clustered together on my left temple for solidarity in numbers. For now they were undetectable unless I shoved them in your eyeball, asking what the hell should I do? I poked a lot of friends’ eyeballs in this very elegant manner. All of them claimed this wasn’t an urgent matter compared to, ya know, nuclear war, poverty, racism… I was told to calm down. And I did… for the most part.
But after five years of a stressful job with long hours the greys proselytized by knocking on their neighboring hair follicle’s door, suggesting they give up the burden of pigmentation. By twenty-eight I had a visible streak of grey hair on my left temple.
Women loved it. They begged me not to dye it. Note: none of said women who loved it had a single grey hair to their names so all their opinions must be taken with a grain of salt and an eye-roll.
Men were split 50/50 and I could easily tell if they had a teacher or cheerleader fetish by their vehement responses. My current boyfriend took the politically correct stance of, “I love them, but you do you.” Another note: his mother had an eerily similar grey streak and I’d be lying if I said Freud wasn’t ringing in my ears.
During my next bi-yearly haircut I spontaneously asked my hairdresser to dye them. I wanted to remember what fertile fallopian tubes felt like. Not shocking, my fallopian tubes felt exactly the same. More shocking, I missed my greys.
That settled it. I would buck conventions; I would allow myself to go full grey by forty. I practically roared the battle cry, “To hell with the patriarchy!! I am the second coming of Joan of Arc!! Come at me, bitches!!”
Six months later, with my greys grown back, I was in line at TSA behind the DILF of all DILFs. Think Chris Hemsworth. He was travelling with his mom and two kids. I adored how he doted on all three of them. But then he kissed his mom with, like, tongue. I recoiled before realizing she was NOT his mother, rather his wife with a bob of grey hair.
Some dim-witted twat like myself will NOT be mistaking me for my future husband’s mother. All the dye for me, please! I will drink it if necessary.
I vowed to bathe myself in hair dye as soon as possible but then life happened and I got swept up in satisfying work and my appearance took a backseat save a swipe of blush here and there. I simply forgot about my greys. My fallopian tubes still seem fine, to my knowledge.
I tell the story of my greys because it was the first time I faced the question, how do we tackle visible signs of aging, if at all? There has been a recent surge to banish the term “anti-aging,” which I fully support, but I find the similar phrase, “aging gracefully,” also troubling. It implies a woman must either look younger than or good for her age but not look like she’s trying to look younger than or good for her age.
Do you also want me to gallop on a unicorn while resembling a mermaid and be very pleasant and smile through this whole nightmare of a fantasy? Because that’s what it sounds like you’re asking of me.
You know how men age? Well. They age well. Like wine. Gaining complexity and depth with the simple passage of time. And maybe some moisturizer. Maybe.
My hope is that the older I get the more I get caught up in my life so my appearance takes a backseat to my driving. But I can pull over at anytime and slather on as much vitamin C serum as necessary, or discuss the benefits of dry brushing, or dip my toe into the Botox sandbox if I so feel like it because my definition of beauty is choice.
Right now I’m choosing to rock a new fringe that camouflages most of the grey. They’re still visible, but only if you know to look for them, imbuing them with power, like a mole on your lover’s hip.
I’m not sure what I’ll eventually do about my greys when they proselytize all sides of my head (if they dare colonize my southern hemisphere I might just throw in the towel). I’ve changed my mind about it as often as I change my bed sheets.
One thing is certain; I’ll throw a few more tantrums about aging. During which I’ll flag down a girlfriend who’s on the same highway, and we can commiserate and bitch, and then bolster and buckle each other back in before we merge back onto the highway.
Regardless of what you choose to do or not do, let’s all commit to sunscreen. Bare minimum. Because in my glorious highway-of-life fantasy we’re all driving top down convertibles. Obviously.