In Her Words: Veronica McCarthy

6 years ago by

Veronica got in touch with us when we put out an open call for beauty contributors. A week later we met for coffee, and now two months and a handful of beauty pieces later, I feel confident openly admitting that I’m kind of obsessed with her. We all are! She’s painfully funny, very smart, super real, and obviously so beautiful. Ok ok, I’ll stop now and let Veronica take over and tell you about her experience with beauty standards and self-image, in her own words.


Veronica McCarthy, Writer

At twenty-two I found a single blonde hair on my left temple and jumped for glee. My hair was finally reverting back to its five-year-old-perfectly-highlighted-blonde-self! It was resuming its rightful identity, shunning the boring mouse brown I’d been gifted at the onset of puberty.

That night I proudly paraded my single blonde hair to my then boyfriend, who casually remarked, “Huh. Looks grey to me.”


It was not grey. I was not grey. To me grey signified shriveled ovary eggs, rolling around, collecting dust in my fallopian tubes because they can’t find the exit due to poor eyesight. I was in my peak, both in terms of fertility and ability to avoid hangovers. I picked a fight and stormed out of his studio for he was not deserving of my new highlighted hair.

Two months later my blonde hair birthed two babies! Now I had a garden of three blonde hairs. Two months later, four more! Then — wait-a-minute. Dammit. He’s right. They are grey.

I was equal parts horrified and amazed by my greys. They clustered together on my left temple for solidarity in numbers. For now they were undetectable unless I shoved them in your eyeball, asking what the hell should I do? I poked a lot of friends’ eyeballs in this very elegant manner. All of them claimed this wasn’t an urgent matter compared to, ya know, nuclear war, poverty, racism… I was told to calm down. And I did… for the most part.

But after five years of a stressful job with long hours the greys proselytized by knocking on their neighboring hair follicle’s door, suggesting they give up the burden of pigmentation. By twenty-eight I had a visible streak of grey hair on my left temple.

Women loved it. They begged me not to dye it. Note: none of said women who loved it had a single grey hair to their names so all their opinions must be taken with a grain of salt and an eye-roll.

Men were split 50/50 and I could easily tell if they had a teacher or cheerleader fetish by their vehement responses. My current boyfriend took the politically correct stance of, “I love them, but you do you.” Another note: his mother had an eerily similar grey streak and I’d be lying if I said Freud wasn’t ringing in my ears.

During my next bi-yearly haircut I spontaneously asked my hairdresser to dye them. I wanted to remember what fertile fallopian tubes felt like. Not shocking, my fallopian tubes felt exactly the same. More shocking, I missed my greys.

That settled it. I would buck conventions; I would allow myself to go full grey by forty. I practically roared the battle cry, “To hell with the patriarchy!! I am the second coming of Joan of Arc!! Come at me, bitches!!”

Six months later, with my greys grown back, I was in line at TSA behind the DILF of all DILFs. Think Chris Hemsworth. He was travelling with his mom and two kids. I adored how he doted on all three of them. But then he kissed his mom with, like, tongue. I recoiled before realizing she was NOT his mother, rather his wife with a bob of grey hair.

Some dim-witted twat like myself will NOT be mistaking me for my future husband’s mother. All the dye for me, please! I will drink it if necessary.

I vowed to bathe myself in hair dye as soon as possible but then life happened and I got swept up in satisfying work and my appearance took a backseat save a swipe of blush here and there. I simply forgot about my greys. My fallopian tubes still seem fine, to my knowledge.

I tell the story of my greys because it was the first time I faced the question, how do we tackle visible signs of aging, if at all? There has been a recent surge to banish the term “anti-aging,” which I fully support, but I find the similar phrase, “aging gracefully,” also troubling. It implies a woman must either look younger than or good for her age but not look like she’s trying to look younger than or good for her age.

Do you also want me to gallop on a unicorn while resembling a mermaid and be very pleasant and smile through this whole nightmare of a fantasy? Because that’s what it sounds like you’re asking of me.

You know how men age? Well. They age well. Like wine. Gaining complexity and depth with the simple passage of time. And maybe some moisturizer. Maybe.

My hope is that the older I get the more I get caught up in my life so my appearance takes a backseat to my driving. But I can pull over at anytime and slather on as much vitamin C serum as necessary, or discuss the benefits of dry brushing, or dip my toe into the Botox sandbox if I so feel like it because my definition of beauty is choice.

Right now I’m choosing to rock a new fringe that camouflages most of the grey. They’re still visible, but only if you know to look for them, imbuing them with power, like a mole on your lover’s hip.

I’m not sure what I’ll eventually do about my greys when they proselytize all sides of my head (if they dare colonize my southern hemisphere I might just throw in the towel). I’ve changed my mind about it as often as I change my bed sheets.

One thing is certain; I’ll throw a few more tantrums about aging. During which I’ll flag down a girlfriend who’s on the same highway, and we can commiserate and bitch, and then bolster and buckle each other back in before we merge back onto the highway.

Regardless of what you choose to do or not do, let’s all commit to sunscreen. Bare minimum. Because in my glorious highway-of-life fantasy we’re all driving top down convertibles. Obviously.


Add yours
  • Mais quelle belle plume ! Drôle, juste, je comprends que vous soyez toutes conquises

  • Attack of the greys! Very funny. I’d love to see more of this style here :)

    I am talking holiday shine, cocktail dress edition, on my page:

  • The idea that men age better than women is a myth. While there are a few George Clooneys out there, women take much better care of themselves. Take it from someone who just went to her 25th college reunion.

  • Veronica McCarthy November, 17 2017, 2:08

    ah, i see how my words misconstrued my sentiments. i was comparing what words society uses to describe men aging versus women aging, and why i find that troubling. not necessarily claiming that all men age well. but i will swoon over George Clooney and that perfectly weathered face of his with you any day of the week!

  • I agree that it’s a myth that men age better. Grey is more acceptable on men, if they keep their hair, that is. I am learning to love my greys more and more. It’s a natural progression, and now I use highlights to blend them in, instead of colour to eradicate them. To each their own but graceful aging is a goal of mine, not denial. Truth is always beautiful.

  • Yes to your current decision about the grey. Before your future self decides to cover it up, she should consider all the toxins hair dye puts into one’s body and into the environment.

    As for “aging well,” I’m not genetically gifted, probably would have been considered somewhat attractive in my youth. But while I don’t have a lot of control over the way my skin, neck, and hair are aging, I feel that I am in the best shape of my life. Staying fit through diet and exercise — both physical and mental — is my best hope for aging gracefully.

  • Les cheveux gris n’existent pas. Comment peut-on écrire de telles erreurs. Ils sont blancs ou colorés , n’importe quel coiffeur vous le dira.

  • Bonjour, Colette!

    En anglais l’expression “grey hair” est couramment utilisée, beaucoup plus que “white hair” si je ne m’abuse, mais il est vrai qu’en français, il faut dire “cheveux blancs”. J’imagine que la confusion vient de là! :-)

  • I have really loved reading the last 2 posts. Wonderful real women with humour and insight.

    Any chance that we could find our how Veronica and Heather both care for their long beautiful hair? Major envy.

  • Michael Villar November, 17 2017, 6:45 / Reply

    Veronica, what makes you so beautiful has nothing to do with your hair. You have always impressed me with your kindness towards others, and your willingness to be open with everyone. That and the fact that you used to do Navy Seal training has always put you on a pedestal in my mind. Cheers to one of the greatest beauties I have ever had the fortune of knowing.

  • Brillant.I have exactly the same problem and I keep it like it is,as a sign of wisdom.Ahahah

  • muswellmummy November, 18 2017, 6:58 / Reply

    At the age of 49 I decided to stop colouring my reddish brown hair with semi-permanent dye every 6 – 8 weeks and let the greys shine. It is the best decision I’ve made hair-wise and I wish I’d done it sooner (the texture is much better). I did go through a period of looking avidly at any woman with grey hair (few and far between) to see if I thought she looked ‘older’ or not. Then I thought who cares? Why should I care if someone thinks I look older than I am? It’s both sexist and ageist to be obsessed with youth and feeds into the current societal rejection of and patronising attitude towards the elderly (at least in the UK) . My husband and male friends all have grey hair (if they have any) and never would have felt the need to dye it. Men do not seem to worry so much about how young they appear to others – most I know measure their physical ability, not looks, as to how ‘young’ they feel. I don’t want to buy into the ageism of believing old is bad. If we live to be old it means we haven’t died young!

  • Good for all the women commenting that have decided to let their hair age naturally. When I look around at work or a crowd of women, those that clearly AREN’T coloring or highlighting are often the minority. It’s insidious and women are not well served by the exposure to toxics. Those toxics then require wastewater treatment and all of it creates unnecessary plastic waste. We really undercut our “we’re fine the way we are” self-talk with this kind of chemical intervention. When I listen to a woman tally up her perceived deficiencies (whether gray hair, lines, weight, etc.) I think to myself “are you scrutinizing ME that hard too?” And now that I am over 50 (and yes I have gray hairs!) that annoys me. Enough already. Just eat well, exercise, protect your sleep and get on with the important work of the world.

  • Ah, the greys…..

    For awhile I dyed a blond streak on one side of my brown hair in a sort of homage to Bonnie Raitt and her glorious grey streak. Then I decided to let the greys in and to my surprise and joy, I had my own white streak in the same place, just lurking there waiting to be revealed.

    Now I’m fairly grey and sometimes I think, hmmm, should I put in a streak of another color? A grey-haired friend of mine recently put in a magenta streak and I loved it.

    Grey is wonderful, but everyone should do what they want. As always.

  • I like natural products, I don’t want chemicals on my head, and I find outgrowth really really ugly.
    When I was 38 I had a long thought about dying or not dying and chose not to dye. I’m always full of admiration when I see women with beautiful white hair.
    I found the group ‘Going Grey, Looking Great’ on Facebook and they really convinced me:
    Don’t call it grey, but silver. And instead of the same color every woman gets out of a pot, you get your own unique color when you don’t dye.
    I’m 40 now and my hair is constantly evolving, the shades are changing, the new strands of silver hair look like highlights. I don’t like it every minute of the day, in some light it’s a bit of a shock how much my dark hair has changed, but I’ve made my decision and I’m sticking with it. I’m unique and different and natural and it’s a privilege to get older, because it’s the only way to live longer. I’ll keep taking care of myself physically, mentally and spiritually until I’m old and hopefully have beautiful completely white hair. You lose your youth, but you gain life experience and wisdom, and that’s a much bigger gift.

  • The Kitten Abides November, 19 2017, 7:01 / Reply

    Ah, bless your heart. Just wait until you hit 50 and it’s all falling apart in various tiny, yet ever-so-noticeably cutting ways. My greys (which I will confess are harder to see being a undyed redhead than for those who have darker hair) are the least of my aging concerns, at almost 53. Other than spend great deals of money that I don’t have, my decision has become to just create the richest life I can as I get older. It does help that 1) after about 45 or so, you become invisible, and 2) that my eyesight isn’t what it used to be, so it’s way easier not to get caught up in minutely inspecting each day’s new disintegration. ;-)

  • Veronica McCarthy November, 20 2017, 10:18

    i love your sentiment and your “name” even more! and i’m sure you’re far from invisible. xoxo

  • I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Beautifully written and honest.

  • Mamavalveeta03 November, 20 2017, 2:08 / Reply

    Welcome, Veronica! I have gone from dyeing my hair to goin’ with the grey, to realizing that my current shade of mouse grey is NOT in the least bit flattering to me (or my ego!) in any way. So, back to limited dye….a little swab of root touch-up, a bit of balyage and I’m good for several months. I figure it’s a non-invasive thing, and since I take great care of my skin and always have, I don’t intend to have any plastic surgery, unless my overhanging lids make it impossible to read. ;-)

    Oh, and I’ve known a few men that go kicking and screaming into their “red convertible years”…not all of them age easily, shall we say.

  • Hi everybody! I am 50 ( and a halffff) and my beloved hair are completely white and I ‘m so proud of them!! People stop me everywhere asking about my hair colour … “sorry.. Is this tour true colour?”-Yess ? Why??? Because I began with my first one at the age of 18!!! So come on Veronica ! You will be beautiful in total white belive me!

  • A man, I do not comment on whether he is bad or not, but the role of the woman in shaping the man’s personality is undeniable.
    giay nam

  • I’m 37 and this year started getting grey hairs which initially terrified me. I stopped dying my hair 2 years ago so maybe I’ve had them longer and my dark blond hair simply hid them better than I realised. I’m deciding whether or not I should dye/ not dye. Reading commenters point of views is refreshing!

  • Same, absolute same! I am 34 and have a grey stripe, white lightening, in the drive, right-side. They’ve started to pepper my whole head this year. My first greys appeared at 24 and for a while I dyed them, but then that got expensive, plus my hair color was always changing just a tinge month to month and I was afraid I didn’t remember my original color. So I let it go. Mostly I get compliments on this streak. Some days I think I look a touch older than my age. My husband thinks I look more interesting with it, which is the best compliment! Anyhow. I feel you.

  • I like natural products, I don’t want chemicals on my head, and I find outgrowth really really ugly.
    When I was 38 I had a long thought about dying or not dying and chose not to dye. I’m always full of admiration when I see women with beautiful white hair.

  • Same, absolute same! I am 34 and have a grey stripe, white lightening, in the drive, right-side. They’ve started to pepper my whole head this year. My first greys appeared at 24 and for a while I dyed them,

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