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Marilyn Heltzer: A hair-straightening realization years in the making

Let’s talk about hair. Long, straight hair. All of the young women newscasters on TV have it, and mostly they’re blondes. But there are a few brunettes.

Now, I’m not an avid TV watcher, but when I flick through the news channels, there they are: Young. Beauitiful. And straight-haired. The guys all wear suits and ties, and yes, they can age.

Men’s hair can go gray. But not the young women; no sir-ee. Women must stay young and beautiful.

Then there’s Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, who is young, but her hair is short. And Rachel, you might even last in the public eye until your hair goes gray. But my bet is that even then, you’ll color your short, straight hair.

But we older ladies do have a major responsibility in the hair department, and it’s to support the young ones who cut our hair. Many hairdressers depend upon us senior citizens to keep them in business as they clip away.

There are also hairdressers who administer permanents. Yes, the permanent wave industry depends upon us elders, too.

The folks who manufacture and administer perms may well go out of businesses when all us old ladies toddle off the Earth.

The day may come when nobody remembers how much work it was to wrap strands of hair around those slim rods and then administer appropriate chemicals.

And the day will surely come when nobody remembers the question, “Which Twin has the Toni?

Here’s a story from my own life. I was the middle daughter in a family of four kids: Three girls, one boy. Now, we won’t talk about the boy-man because at our age, he’s pretty much bald.

He was in his younger years, blonde, as were both my older and younger sisters. And they both had curly hair.

Being the middle kid, I had short straight dark hair. I can remember how our mother shaped my older sister’s blonde curls, wrapping them around her finger. And the younger sister had short curly hair. I was envious of both.

Now, as we have aged, my hair has gone to white.

And it’s still straight and short. Both my blonde sisters stayed blonde for years and years, with a bit of help from chemicals.

I tried coloring twice in my early 40s, with unfortunate results.

But now, both sisters have deserted coloring and accepted the gray.

My older sister has a hairdresser who gives her great cuts.

And yes, her hair, which is gray, is longer than mine. My other sister continues to be a blonde, but not all blonde. I’m not sure what you call it, but there’s gray and blonde together, and her hair is still short and curly.

But I, the one in the middle, have short, straight and decidedly white hair.

The color, common among some of my cousins, is a gift of the genes.

And after all of those years of envying my sisters, I’ve decided that maybe I’m the lucky one, after all.

We are who we are. And it’s a blessing to still make discoveries like this one, at this advanced age.