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"Let it Be" by Cordelia Manning

I'm delighted to post this piece on "going gray" in response to a public invitation to readers of Me, My Hair and I: Twenty-seven Women Untangle an Obsession. Reader Cordelia Manning sent in this lovely piece and titled it "Let It Be." It's more evidence that our hair is a deeply personal public/private matter that has the power to make us reflect on our entire lives. The wonder is that Cordelia Manning has done it so succinctly here. Thank you!

"I was a much adored child: first grandchild on both sides; first child of my parents; first niece of all my aunts and uncles. I was the one they had all waited for and I was showered with love and attention. Even later, after my siblings and cousins arrived, I was the first and eldest, the special one.

"I like to think all that attention was wonderful, nurturing, but in fact they were all always fussing over me. My hair was too long, short, or thick, my skin was too fair and freckled, my eyebrows too heavy. Then there was the list of things I couldn’t do because they might mar the perfection I clearly didn’t have: running gives you big calf muscles; playing the flute would mis-shape your upper lip; if you ski you could break a bone.

"So, once I started growing up, I just wanted them to let me be.

"I found my way in the words of a song: '’Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free, ’Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,' and started turning, turning, and am still turning, on my way to coming out right. What has this to do with grey hair? Hairdressers, too, were always fussing. 'You need streaks, you need a perm, let’s thin your hair…' But I have finally found one who says, 'Your grey hair is beautiful just as it is. Let it be.'"

Comments

Unknown said…
I love this writing from my dear friend, Cordelia. She sent "Me, My Hair, and I" as a gift. I have shared it with my 98-year old role-model, gorgeous Mom who totally understands: We are our hair. My Mom has been grey for 58 years. She knows how to "let it be"!
Penney Carruth
Unknown said…
it is about so much more than hair.
Fabulous piece.

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Great Silver Hair Story from a Reader

I was delighted to receive this story from a reader in response to my call for stories about going gray, or as we say around here, silver. Got one you want on this blog? It can be with or without your name - entirely your choice. Email me at info@ElizabethBenedict.com and I'll consider it. 

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"This Glowing Collection of Essays...."

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“Gorgeous hair is the best revenge,” said Ivana Trump, she of the platinum blonde, sky-high hair. Hair as tool of revenge, as obsession, as embarrassment, as source of pride: Why does a long string of protein absorb so much of our attention?"

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