White Hair, Kind of Care

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Ottawa, March 2018

One is dark brown, one is dark brown at the root and gets lighter and lighter all the way down to the end, and one is white.

Shit. This one is white too. Wait… how many…

Must be the light.

Check in the other bathroom.

These damn lightbulbs!

Step outside with a mirror, of course bumping into the neighbour I never see when I’m doing something normal like opening the front door or getting the mail.

I could blame it on the snowflakes blowing in the wind but I’m not that delusional—last time I checked they don’t dye hair white.

I definitely have strands of white hair.

Not the single random white hair you can pull out and forget about, but hair growing white instead of the usual brown I’ve been seeing for 36 years.


Everyone’s body change throughout life, and we change it too.

I graduated from childhood without tonsils and with tomboy scars on my knees (slow down on your bike, kids!), legs (don’t run with a bamboo stick, kids!) and hands (knives do cut, kids!). I ended my teenage years with five piercings in each ear, a nose stud, a belly-button ring and a broken hymen. I came out of nine months of pregnancy physically unscathed but depressed and completely confused (I swear “postpartum depression” it’s not just a buzzword!).

That’s when I noticed the first white hair, actually—a few weeks after Mark was born. I chalked it up to the bundle of joy crying upstairs and countless sleepless nights. After all, new moms are supposed to experience a myriad of biological changes, pains and symptoms during pregnancy and shortly after—“hormones” everybody whispers to explain the unexplainable. “It gets better!”

It did get better. My hair eventually kept on growing its usual colour, a strange mix of dark brown that turns light brown under the sun—no, it’s not highlights, I swear, it’s my natural colour.

The key word is “colour.” My goddamn hair didn’t use to grow white.

I mean, I’m totally okay with getting older, as long as everything stays the same, otherwise it’s not fun anymore.

“Oh, you’re lucky!” my mom commented. “I had strands of white hair when I was much younger than you. I remember your brother was upset once because one of his friends asked if I was his grandma.”

“But you also had three kids!” I moaned.

“Your childless sister complains about white hair too and she is six years younger than you,” my mom pointed out. “Don’t pull them out. Embrace them!”

“But you dye your hair!”

I can’t pinpoint how having white hairs make me feel, but it bugs me more than I care to admit.

I don’t think it’s vanity—I don’t obsess over my looks, plus I’m not trying to be the twenty-year-old babe I never was in the first place.

Maybe it’s the unknown. I’m not particularly attractive but I know what I look like and I can’t help wondering if one day I’m going to glance at my reflection in the mirror and not recognize myself. What will I look like with grey or white hair? I can’t picture it.

It’s also a control issue. I have zero interest in managing or influencing other people, however, I entertain the illusion I have control over myself and my life. Unfortunately, I can make myself work harder to reach goals and exercise to feel stronger, but standing in front of the mirror and chanting “grow BROWN, grow BROWN!” probably won’t make white hair hidden suddenly change their mind and come out the usual colour.

I thought I was okay with my “mere mortal” status but more than a birthday, white hair is a tangible reminder that life is short and—don’t thank me for that uplifting Monday thought—we all have an expiry date.

Shit. I’m running out of time, as usual. There’s so much I want to do, see, experience! I can postpone some of it to next month or next year, but probably not to the next life—I don’t believe in reincarnation.

“Just dye your hair and shut up, already!” Huh huh. I spent my teenage years trying to be someone else, experimenting with red hair and henna, now I just want to be me. I don’t even wear makeup because I find it deceptive. I don’t want to hide my white hair—I just need a bit of time to embrace it, much like I try embrace every other physical flaw I can’t fix.

Damn. Still snowing.

Problem solved for the day—I have a wear a hat, anyway.

Ottawa, March 2018

Ottawa, March 2018


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Funny how I’ve been thinking of my own white hair all week end long. I had a photoshoot for my engagement and I was just telling myself : hey, that might be the last time I’ve got some nice photos with my dark blond hair! In only 6 months, I’ve been “grisonnante” as hell. I’ve been working to accept it, it’s life, and I don’t want to hide it under a dye, for specifically feminist reasons. And hey, at least I’m not losing them! That’s my only female privilege!
    I’m not ok with it yet, but I will be eventually. I think white hair isn’t going to be the worse. I’m dreading the face skin beginning to be slack. Oh it’s gonna be so much worse!

    • Meh, I don’t mind wrinkles, they add personality (of course, I’m saying that now, feel free to throw that comment back to my face a few months/years for now :lol:)

      Maybe the key is to look at white hair not as the end of something but as the beginning of something else? (Like, congrats on the engagement!)

  2. I saw my first white hair a little bit over a year ago, amidst all the stress of the big move from Brazil back to Canada… I blamed it on all the stress. Now it has been appearing more and more… I feel like crying too. I don’t want to dye it, I want to embrace it too, like you. But it’s so hard to have another physical reminder that we are getting older!!! (Maybe we are mourning our young years?)

    • I wouldn’t say I have embraced it *yet* 😆 I don’t really want to go back to my twenties, I just wish I could… I don’t know, look the same a bit longer? Change is scary.

  3. I don’t have any white hair yet, so no idea how I will react when it will happen 😉 But I kind of hope that I inherited my grandmum’s genes : she’s 91 years old and she doesn’t have a single white hair !

    • Oh, lucky you! Are we in the same age range?

      My grandma has lovely hair, mix of white and dark. I hope I can have her hair colour!

  4. I was able to deal with my white hair until about a year ago. My hair is now more than 30% grey and I don’t like the way it makes me look at 34 !

    I hate dying it even though it looks a lot like my natural colour but I guess that will be my life for the next 20 years

    • It doesn’t show at all in your profile picture, are you dying it already? Do you feel better when it’s “hidden”? I’m afraid that if I dye it, I’ll spend my time checking for white roots anyway 😆

        • Maybe one day you’ll feel like going natural 🙂 (and maybe one day I’ll feel the need to dye it…)

          Is it me or hair salons are much more expensive in Canada than in France?

  5. Martin Penwald on

    We are products of a patriarcal society that impose on women not to be old. For a man, getting gray/white hairs is not a big deal, but in medias or in public, it’s very rare to see women with grey hairs unless they represent “old” stereotypes. Like Isa said earlier, it’s a feminist issue to consider not dying one’s hair, but our conditionnement is hard to overcome.

    That’s found in « Sorcières, la puissance invaincue des femmes » by Mona Chollet for example. Witches were essentially women who don’t live in society anymore because deemed to old to appear in public.

    J’exagère un peu là, mais il y a des infos pertinentes sur les persécutions dont ont été victimes les femmes depuis la Renaissance. Par exemple, il y a eu plus de condamnations pour sorcellerie après la Renaissance qu’au Moyen-Âge, parce que la médecine est devenue une affaire d’hommes qui n’acceptaient pas de reconnaître le savoir que pouvaient avoir des guérisseuses/sorcières.

    • I’m okay with being burn as a future witch with grey hair–I don’t mind the heat. Now if the punishment is being sent to northern Canada…

      Blague à part, it’s actually rare to see women with grey hair these days and it makes me a bit uncomfortable because it’s… well, it’s like we all pretend white hair just don’t exist.

  6. I’m 5 years older than you, I have plus eyes 2 years ago and broken teeth a year go.doctor said i’m getting older :))
    Lucky I wear hijab people dont notice my white hair

    • Ah, I was about to say you’re lucky because you can cover your hair! But do you dye it, even if you wear a hijab? Actually, that’s an interesting topic : do Muslim women who wear the hijab care about hairstyle, hair colour, etc.?

          • Ahh. My kids.
            I am single mom, yet I live with my dad. Probably you think that is my spouse:))
            My mom had passed away 5 years ago

          • Your kids, then! 😉

            I remember about your mum, your articles about her are always very moving. You rarely (never?) mention your marital status, so I wrongly assumed you were living with a boyfriend/spouse/significant other.

  7. J’en avais un certain nombre, que je teignais lol, et j’en ai beaucoup moins depuis quelque temps. Je ne me l’explique pas vraiment lol!

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