The Beauty Battle


Who is that beautiful woman? Do I really look that good? I know you’re skeptical, and rightly so. When it came to getting an image for the back cover of my book, the pressure was on. (My publisher said first time authors don’t have their faces on their cover, but I think people like to know who they’re listening to.) There’s nothing more valuable than a good photographer. And I happen to have one of the best in my town.

Check her out:

Not only did the photographer, Trina, understand exactly the look I was after, she did a tremendous job of lighting an elderly face in a flattering manner. Take a close look, really, zoom in and inspect the details. There are just enough wrinkles at the corner of my eyes to indicate good humour and… let’s call it wisdom. My neck is smooth, but not artificially so and there’s no glare on those fabulous spectacle frames. (I loved them so much I wore them until they broke.)

Trina had this great trick for getting a natural smile. She’d ask me to make a fish face, you know, puckered lips and sucked-in cheeks. Then, when I could hold it no longer, I laughed in a natural manner and that’s when she triggered the shot.

I know, the pose is corny. It the most “author-like” stance I could think of, and it is well-suited to my tongue-in-cheek collection of short stories. (Titled “We Drank Wine” by Sun Dragon Press, now available on Amazon for $14.99 USD. You should buy it.) I love the crisp white shirt, the blueness of my eyes and the warmth of the flesh tones. Trina took about 5,000 images that day. We went through them on her computer, ditched the obvious sour smiles and semi-open eyes to weed it down to a few hundred. Then we did the Ophthalmologist thing. Do you like this one, or that, this, or that, this, that? We finally got it down to eight shots, all of which were the woman I aspired to be on my very best day.

Arctic Blonde is Trending

Let’s talk hair for a minute. I was born bald. My mother was so excited about having a girl she actually taped bows to my head. I wore smocked dresses and patent leather shoes with lacey socks until I was old enough to destroy them through rough play. It’s surprising that I didn’t end up in therapy.

I had blonde hair as a child, but puberty took me down a dark path in terms of hair colour, among other things, and I had brown hair for most of my adult life. In the 1990 photo I am 35 and home with kids. In my 40’s, (Yes, I am over forty, thanks for the complement.) I started getting stray grey hairs, which were coarser than my brown strands and thus demanded a lot of attention. At first I pulled them out, but when a return to baldness became a threat, I started dying my own hair. I was a stay-at-home-mom keeping a tight rein on finances so many a towel was sacrificed to my home dye jobs.

When I returned to work and had the spare cash, I hired professionals to undertake the war on grey. I tried every possible solution. In 2008 I went blonde to hide the grey. (I know the photo is black and white, but you get the idea.) Then I tried the opposite direction, going very dark. In one moment of madness, I chose raven black with an overtone of purple. Dark hair was a battle that involved constant scrutiny and root touch up kits.

I let hairdressers torture me by pulling hunks of my hair through a rubber bathing cap with a crochet hook so they could dye the strands blonde. (Not my current hairdresser. She would never do such a thing.) The streaks were supposed to hide the grey. That process evolved to sheets of tin foil wrapped about layers of my hair. (Really, that version of me with the patchwork hair has nothing to laugh about.

Then my darling husband pointed out an article in the Toronto Star saying that grey hair is becoming stylish. Read the article here. Apparently, women of a mature age were choosing not to dye their hair.

Grey hair was being rebranded as stylish. It was being promoted as a symbol of maturity and accomplishment.I’ve always loved being a Baby Boomer. Whatever life issue I am facing impacts such a significant portion of the population that it gets attention.

And so my hairdresser, whom I love, helped me make the transition. (I won’t tell you her name I can hardly get an appointment now without you taking up her time.) We let the roots grow in until I could stand it no more, then we cut my hair as short as was tolerable. For a while I had grey hair with a tiny bit of brown on the tips, which looked kind of edgy. It was a risk. We weren’t sure how much grey we were going to find. I was lucky, the white is around my face, and the back is still quite dark in a salt and pepper way. It’s a decision I have never regretted.


  1. I enjoyed this blog as I can relate to it. I have not coloured my hair in over 20 years and never looked back. Like you, the transition was painful and I had to cut it short to be able to get through the process. I have had some in my family who cannot understand why I would embrace the grey. Possibly because they have never tried it or think it looks old. Not me, I find someone who dyes their hair and does not get the colour just right, looks older than those who embrace it. I look forward to reading some of your other entries. You have a good sense of who you are. I like that in a writer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Marion Reidel, Upper Canadian Author with a wicked sense of humour. Buy her book, visit her on tour, and also get the tattoo.