Two years ago, Linda Bellamy stopped dying her hair and began growing it out naturally. No more Clairol. No more chemicals.
“I’ve been every colour but black,” she says, adding she’s been colouring on and off for years. “I’ve had all different hair styles and different colours.”
Going naturally grey – she describes her shade as “Viking Blonde” – hasn’t exactly been easy for Bellamy, an esthetician at Michaud’s Salon and Spa in downtown Cloverdale.
People perceive you differently when you’re grey, she says.
Her customers and co-workers were fine, but it was different when she was out and about.
“You know you’ve become part of what I call the ‘invisible age’ when you’re walking with your daughter and there’s a wolf-whistle and it’s not for you,” says Bellamy, who’s 58. “As you become older, you become invisible to some people.”
Going grey meant strangers made certain assumptions.
“If somebody thinks you’re in your 40s as opposed to your 50s, their perception and how they treat you is different,” she says. “I do find the older you are, the more invisible you are.”
She admits it was also hard working at a salon and not getting a haircut for two years.
“It’s not easy in the salon and spa industry. They’re constantly trying to cut it.”
The past two years may not have been easy, but every second has been worth the effort.
On May 2, she had it all cut off – nine inches. Stylist Kelsey Lakota carefully divided Bellamy’s hair into sections, bunching it into ponytails for maximum length.
The silvery-blonde lengths – silky and healthy because the were never damaged by harsh chemicals or dyes – are being donated to a wig-maker in Langley: House of Miss Rose creates wigs for people with cancer and other medical conditions.
Bellamy decided to donate her hair after conversing with a long-time client one day –a cancer survivor. “She said it would be nice to have a wig with grey hair. Because that’s what would be natural.”
Bellamy realized it would be best if her hair were unprocessed, untreated, and naturally grey when she donated it to a wig-maker.
Her hair was already short, so she shaved it. Then she started growing it out, around Mothers’ Day two years ago.
On May 2, 2011 there were at least eight inches to cut.
It was a big day. The salon organized a full makeover for Bellamy, complete with hair, makeup and clothes – plus photos documenting the transformation.
Four hours later, it was all over. The Viking blonde locks were replaced by a dramatic auburn with copper-brown highlights, and the straggly lengths had been cut into a smart-looking pixie.
Her hair and makeup done, Bellamy slipped into a fitted, sleeveless turquoise party dress with a spring-like floral pattern.
How did she feel?
“Great,” she said, smiling.
“The cut and the colour – it’s the whole thing, it’s not just the hair, it brings it up to date and gives an impression.”
Surprisingly, she felt transformed on the inside, too.
“It was quite emotional when she was doing my hair, as [stylist Kelsey Lakota] cut it. In the last two years, a lot has happened to me. It’s interesting, the whole range of emotions.”
Once those grey roots start poking through her gorgeous auburn/copper-brown ‘do, will she reach for the Clairol or will she embrace her destiny as a silver fox?
She hasn’t decided yet.