My Ongoing Battle with Vanity

RoseMary Griffith
9 min readSep 4, 2018
Author in sunny summer Red Lodge, Montana. Yes, I sport freckles.

How many of us baby boomers learned about vanity, perhaps hearing the word for the first time, from Carly Simon’s 1972 hit, You’re so Vain?

One of the most notable lines in a song full of them is, “You probably think this song is about you, don’t you?”

When we’re being honest, we each in some aspect or another have a touch of inner-absorption.

Most of us aren’t like the ex-lover Carly is singing about (long purported to be Warren Beatty), staring at ourselves in every mirror (I’ll admit to the occasional shop window self-assessment) we pass or taking our Learjet to Nova Scotia, although seeing a total eclipse of the sun from that location would be grand.

I don’t want to be conceited, but ceasing to perform that sometimes egocentric act many older women succumb to proved to be more difficult than I thought: stop coloring my hair.

Let me add the note that anyone who dyes their hair for the sheer fun of it has my blessing! And if you do it to hide the white, that’s okay, too. I’m not judging you with this opinion.

While my tresses were still vibrantly auburn, I swore that unlike my sisters who started to hide their disappearing brunette tones in their early twenties, I would — so brilliant in my wisdom — side with my prematurely white-haired brother and let my hair go as light and white as it wanted whenever it choose to.

Then came the year I turned 39 when I caved under the pressure of, you know you have a lot of gray hair, comments from men — some of them bald. The warrior in me wanted to retort that at least I had hair, but I held my wicked tongue.

When the white starting appearing. Yes, I love single malt scotch. Neat. Photo credit: Karen Kinser

Once I succumbed to outside influences dictating what I should look like at this age and stage of my life and started coloring, I felt condemned to continue. I thought I was doomed to retain my auburn image — not only for the external pleasure of being a redhead, but also to thwart those calculating my age based on the white.

Growing up hating my hair, I often wished it would magically turn coal black like my parents, my siblings, some of my cousins. As the…

RoseMary Griffith Author of The Writer’s Travel Journal — for your adventures. Essayist of humor, grief, & family — they go together.