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
"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.'"