By Liz Pardue-Schultz

I started to sparkle when I was 34 years old.

I mean that literally. I was standing at the sink, brushing my teeth and, when I lifted my head back up after rinsing, my hair sparkled back at me. I gasped. I wobbled my head back and forth to watch the light dance through the little silver wisps that had started to peek through my fading dye job. I was entranced.

As a child of the electric ‘80s, I’ve always been enthralled with rainbows, magic and glitter (ohhhhmygod so much glitter), and now, suddenly, I was sparkling. All by myself. I giggled aloud. I felt like a magical elder woman of the forest whose garden of herbal teas can cure any of humanity’s woes.

For the next 15 minutes, I stared in unabashed wonder, slowly bobbing my head around and watching The Sparkle dance through my tresses. After having my fill of channeling Narcissus, I tore myself away from the mirror, got dressed and left the house to face the day.

That’s when I made the horrible mistake of entertaining all the dumb “Voices” of social conditioning and inner-doubt I’ve often fallen prey to.

“You’re only in your 30s; do you really want to start going grey right now?!” The Voices shrieked.

“Listen,” they reasoned. “You’ve got another solid 10 years before it’s socially acceptable to start showing off salt-and-pepper hair. People are going to think you don’t take care of yourself. You’ve got to look at least a little polished if you want respect.”

I sighed. The Voices were making sane, rational points. I let them continue, “Sure, grey hair on young women is a trend right now, but it’s an all-or-nothing thing. You can’t be au naturale and expect to look like anything other than a young woman who has let herself go.”

And so, I pretended that magic moment in my bathroom never happened, and I signed up for a home-dye subscription kit to blot out The Sparkle. The auburn shade that arrived in my mailbox was deeply, sincerely gorgeous. Within hours of applying it, I began getting compliments and, honestly, it was the most I had ever felt like one of those gals in Pantene commercials. My hair looked shiny and smooth and healthy and just fan-flippin’-tastic.

But it didn’t sparkle.

Every six weeks, The Sparkle would peek out of my crown again to visit. I’d wobble my head in the mirror and dance with her a little. After I had a total hysterectomy, she started coming in more brilliantly – sprouting in bright white bursts instead of just silvery wisps. I couldn’t pretend I didn’t look forward to her visits every other month, when we’d catch up and I’d get to see how much more dazzling she’d become while in hiding.

Even still, despite my wonder, I resigned myself to strapping on those rubber gloves every other month and painting ruddy brown glop over my roots.

The Voices attempted to comfort me with socially-acceptable reason, “You’ll have plenty of time for grey hair later. Enjoy being young now!”

I pretended I wasn’t sad about censoring my grays, but I caught myself gazing longingly at other women with any arrangement of desaturated hair. I interrupted a silver-haired receptionist to tell her “Your hair is just resplendent.” She blushed and smiled while touching her long mane and, in the moment she paused to decide what to say, I blurted, “I hope mine looks that amazing when I get My Sparkles.”

I sounded more than a little insane. Neither of us seemed to mind.

This went on for a couple years until one morning when, again, I looked up from the sink and my eye caught another tiny, glistening dazzle right in the middle of my face. Dropping my towel, I leaned in so close my nose was almost touching the mirror. There, at the front of my eyebrows, was a small crop of bright white hairs, standing long, proud and defiant, in stark contrast to the rest of my dark brown hair.

These four solid white hairs had appeared overnight and, while I could’ve snatched them out with tweezers, I couldn’t help but think how cool they looked. They were so unique; I’ve never seen anyone with a platinum streak in her eyebrow.  I looked like some sort of super heroine beginning to transition into her final form.

The Sparkle wasn’t giving up without a fight.

I smiled back at her.

“Okay, girl. You win,” I may’ve actually said aloud.

I cancelled my hair dye subscription within the hour. It will take awhile for The Sparkle to fully emerge through my long, thick hair, but I’m excited about watching her transform me in the next few years as I approach 40 years old.

Perhaps, when she has completely staked her claim through my mane, I’ll throw her a party. I don’t know if I’ll celebrate under the light of a silvery full moon or a disco ball, but I can guarantee, whatever I decide, the theme will be Sparkles.

About this writer

  • Liz Pardue-Schultz

    Liz Pardue-Schultz

    is a “Jill of all trades” who lives in North Carolina and writes about her adventures. Her words have been published in HuffPost, XOJane,, and a ridiculous number of Letters to the Editor columns.

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2 Responses to “Sparkles”

  1. Linda O'Connell says:

    This was a delightful, fun read! Thank you for making me smile. I’m still fighting the sparkles. Going to share this with my daughter.

  2. Rose Ann says:

    I love your positive take on the sparkles. Mine try to take center stage with their new wiry, curly texture. You made me look at them a little differently . . .maybe next year:)

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