My new hero is a high school kid. Tavi Gevison, editor of the online magazine Rookie, is a bad ass in the best way. She speaks with a sage's wisdom, insight and poise, displayed in her TED talk "A Teen Just Trying to Figure it Out." She unflinchingly confronts questions of women's body image and self-worth. She's a lifeline for girls who ask the same questions. Tavi suggests we do one thing when we show up in the world:
Be Stevie Nicks. That's all you have to do. Because my favorite thing about her, other than like everything, is that she has always been unapologetically present on stage, and unapologetic about her flaws, and about reconciling all of her contradictory feelings, and she makes you listen to them, and think about them. So, please be Stevie Nicks.
When I was Tavi's age, Stevie Nicks' "Landslide" soothed my broken heart. Her white-winged dove gave swagger to my step, her gypsy sang of my secret life. Throughout her gritty and glamorous rock queen life, she's always known who she was. Maybe, like Tavi says, I can show up that way, too.
The other day, a friendly woman at the coffee shop called forth my own Stevie Nicks.
At the pastry counter, I peered in the glass, wondering: bagel or danish? The woman helping me said, "Your hair is so beautiful! I love the way the gray is coming in!"
Her eyes shown with admiration; her voice was warm and light. Her words were the opposite of the scolding voice in my head, which said, "Color that mop!" I imagined others thought, "Why doesn't she cover that gray?"
I've tried coloring my hair. I hate the whole process -- the smell, the chemicals, the expense, the upkeep. The way I really want it only lasts a week or so. Every day, I searched for the one strand that exposed itself, betraying my secret to the world.
Here's the real secret: I love my gray hairs! They're wild and coarse and they pull away from the pack. They speak of wisdom and beauty; they're strong and resilient. Like Stevie Nicks. The gray hair is my report card from "the school of hard knocks" as my dad described life. I've lived, and my hair shows it.
The admiring coffee shop lady spoke to me in ways I couldn't speak to myself. With my flaws showing, I was a little Stevie Nicks that morning. She reminded me that I don't need to apologize for it.
When it comes to personal beauty, it's not only what magazines, movies and commercials tell us, but also what we tell ourselves, and what we tell ourselves about what we think other people are thinking. We get tangled in knots trying to please everyone. And who am I to think my gray hair is of such interest to them?
The amazing Tavi says:
The point is not to give [women] the answers, not even give them permission to find the answers themselves. But hopefully inspire them to understand that they can give themselves that permission, they can ask their own questions and find their own answers.
I'm still trying on new looks, which includes my natural hair color. Like a rock star, I'm not going gray, I'm going platinum!