And I know that my naturally gray hair does this - tricks the unknowing eye into perceiving my age inaccurately. I know that it's noticeable even as I've lost the ability to see it that way myself and sometimes forget.
And I know that to a lot of people 38 *is* old. But I don't even know what that really means. My age doesn't effect *me* per se, but it definitely effects how people perceive and relate to me. It means things to them I can only guess at because I don't live my life any differently than I did eight years ago when I moved to L.A. I worry about perceptions of my age and how it effects my life in terms of romance, and even my job hunt.
And my gray hair exacerbates the entire situation.
My hair that I love and that I think is wonderfully unique. My hair that I wear this way because I think it's beautiful.
Particularly hurtful: When people think that I grow out my natural hair because I don't care about my appearance. Like clearly I don't care about being attractive because if I did I would dye my hair.
Instead, it's that I'm caught between what I perceive as attractive, and the fact that I'm not an idiot.
I once dated someone who was sometimes amazed by my ability to both feel bad that he was upset by something I was doing, and my refusal to change when it was something that was important to me. "If you really cared," he would say, "You would change."
Well, I do care. I care a lot. I don't want to be perceived as 10 years older than I am. I don't want to be put into a category I don't currently belong in. And I want to be as attractive and as sexy as I can be. I absolutely do care - for better or for worse - about my looks.
But I also don't want to dye my hair when I damn well don't want to dye my hair, just to cave to society's perception of youth and beauty. I don't want to have to spend that time in a salon, I don't want to spend the money, I don't want to have half as much hair because it's all falling out, and frankly, *I* find plenty of dyed hair unattractive. And sometimes even aging.
In a vacuum, in my mind, I don't look a day over 38, because I am 38 and this is what my hair looks like.
In a vacuum, in my mind, I think my gray hair is beautiful and sexy and I love it. And I believe that there are other people who see it that way, too.
But IRL, sometimes, I know I just look old.