Not everyone wants
to color their world
What is the fixation that people in Hawaii have for covering their gray hair?
I am 52 years old with nearly all gray hair that started turning when I was in my early 20s. It is something that I have inherited from both sides of my family. It never bothered me until I left California to move back to the islands four years ago.
Santa Barbara, Calif., is very upscale and sophisticated, and filled with gray-haired men and women. They lounge around cafes and shop, never seeming to give a second thought about their natural silver hair.
In Hawaii I'm finding a sea of people in all ages and shapes with dyed hair. There are kids with bleached orange hair or red on black, and elderly with matte caps of black-brown combinations or a blanket of one-shade blond. Is my new mantra to be "Sunshine, beaches and eternally youthful hair"?
I have considered handing a printed card to every cashier saying, "I am not a senior citizen; please don't ask if I need The Discount."
Several stores offer The Discount to give the elderly a break from high prices. Daiei store in Kailua has its senior day on Tuesdays. "Down to Earth" health-food stores also give senior discounts: Tuesdays in Kailua and Wednesdays in Honolulu. It takes so much energy for me to tell the cashiers that I am not a senior citizen that I have stopped shopping there on their senior days.
One Wednesday, I handed the Down to Earth cashier my Vegetarian Society discount card. He smiled and said I didn't need it because it was senior discount day. I turned to the customer behind me in line and asked, nearly in tears, "Do I look like I'm 65 years old?"
He assured me I did not. But the cashier's assumption still stung.
Yesterday, using Photoshop on my computer, I manipulated a recent photograph to see what I would like with dyed hair. I didn't like the result, feeling it took away my hair's magical quality. I love the way my streaks of white hair play up my hazel eyes and rosy, tanned skin.
I'm a textile designer, so I think I know something about color and its power to enhance, magnify, dramatize or diminish, depending on the effect desired.
I decided that in spite of what others believe, I am happy with my looks. I don't want to change my hair color, so my big decision now is what color to use on my new calling card.
Emma Howard is a textile designer and mother of four who lives in Kailua.
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