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my little guy being goofy on our Staten Island Ferry ride

As I was driving down a busy street in our town last week, two young girls walking on the sidewalk caught my eye.  One was about 13 and the other maybe 10.  The older girl had long blond hair – and dark roots.  The younger girl had brown hair.  I was struck by these two girls.  They looked happy enough, walking with lots of energy on an unseasonably warm winter day.

What struck me was that the older girl – just a teenager, I would guess – had artificially highlighted her hair.  As a woman who has colored her hair for the last 9 years (since I started going gray and not just for fun), I had a moment of realization.  Those two girls impacted my life and they probably didn’t even see me driving by.

Let me explain.  I have been fighting the pressure (societal, peer) to color my hair the entire time I’ve been doing it.  I started coloring my hair when I was 27, before I had kids.  The grays were just starting to show in the temporal area and around my face.  Friends of mine encouraged me to color it.  They said, “you are too young to be gray.  There’s plenty of time to be gray when you are much older.” So, I colored it.  For several years, I endured the expense and had it done professionally.  Then, for the past four to five years or so I used Herbatint and did it myself.

It’s not that I didn’t like the artificial color of my hair (or the true color of my hair, for that matter).  I always did, and I especially loved that “kept” feeling coloring my hair gave me.  Do you know what I’m talking about?

But what I’ve struggled with, and what has been eating away at me, is twofold – the message that it sends to people everywhere and the chemicals that are put on my scalp.  To me, the message that coloring your hair sends to people is complicated.  It can be “I’m fun, and I like to use my colored hair as an accessory.”  Or, it can be something along the lines of “my God-given hair is not good enough for me.  I do not accept myself as I am and I need to change my appearance.”

As I raise a young daughter in this day and age, I cannot help but give these statements a lot of thought.  I read recently that the United States has the highest rate of depression in the world.  Is part of this problem due to people putting too much emphasis on appearance and not enough on relationships? For the record, I see nothing wrong with looking great and feeling great, but when you prioritize looking like something you are not over other meaningful things I think you’re bound to trip up at some point in life.

Like I said, I do think this is a complicated issue, but by coloring my gray hair aren’t I communicating to my daughter that:

getting older is something you want to hide?

gray hair is unattractive in women?

my appearance means more than the health of my body (from the risk that the chemicals pose)?

So, when I saw those girls I was struck.

Struck that I didn’t want my daughter to feel that she needed to change herself to be more attractive, have more fun, or be liked more.  And, that I needed to set a [better?/different?] example.

So, I have decided to stop coloring my hair.  I will be gray (and fortunately or unfortunately, there’s a lot of it), so if you see me in passing don’t be surprised! And, who knows, if Victoria Boutenko is right, maybe all the greens I’m eating will start to work on those grays turning them back to my original color! (Oh, and for any of you wondering…my husband actually prefers the gray!)

That ended up being a little longer than I planned, but I do want to cover two other topics in this post.

rare photo of the two of us taken by our girl

We had a fun weekend out of town on the New Jersey coast and NY metro area.  Saturday was a sunny day and perfect for a walk on the beach in Asbury Park.  We ate at a fabulous little restaurant (vegan except for two sandwiches on the menu) called Twisted Tree Cafe.  Everyone loved it and I can’t wait to go back.  We also had dinner at a special Pakistani restaurant, as well as Turkish lunch (more eggplant, please!).  We took a Staten Island Ferry ride – the first boat ride for my little guy! Both kids and adults loved the excitement of that ride.

my second batch of fermented veggies – carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers and garlic

And, finally, I just wanted to offer you a little peak into my new food obsession:  Cultured Vegetables! So far, I’ve made three quarts and they are going like hotcakes.  These veggies are so so tasty and full of good bacteria.  I have been scouring the internet and library for helpful resources on making cultured veggies.

  • My favorite resource, which was just published last week, is from Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen
  • I love this YouTube video from The Raw Food World and fermentation expert Wendy Valley
  • I am really enjoying Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz (as well as all of his YouTube videos)
  • This post from Real Food Matters details all the benefits of fermentation, plus includes a kimchi recipe that I will try soon

Alright, just a little peek, folks.  I have a feeling I’ll be talking more about cultured veggies, and other lacto-fermented foods, in coming posts.

Now it’s your turn:

How do you feel about colored hair (yours or just in general)?

What are your favorite lacto-fermented food resources?

And, my biggest unanswered question, do I need a fermentation crock for the big quantities of fermented foods that are in my future? Or, should I just stick to using mason jars?