Laura Marie Panozzo, 46, sculptor, painter, muralist and instructor.
“I noticed when I was just 16 years old. I got really close to the mirror to put my mascara on…what I thought was sunshine was literally a fresh streak/patch of white hair. I was instantly shocked, terrified, mortified. I thought, ‘How is this happening?’ So that day after school, I went and got hair dye. Clairol soft brown. 1993. And that was the beginning of a never-ending saga. I went from dyeing it every other week, to every week, to every few days. I was fighting nature and it was exhausting. About two years ago, I noticed a change in my internal dialogue, it went from positive, ‘Girl you look good, you are getting your stuff together.” To ‘Look at all this gray, you better cover it up. Are you going to do something about it?’ And then, finally, this beautiful voice said, ‘Yeah I’m going to do something about it. I’m going to let it grow! Let it grow all out!’
I started telling my children and my husband to call me ‘full Gandolf’ like, “Mom you need to turn into full Gandolf!” and my husband started calling me silver sister. It was so, so hard in the beginning. I had a hard time believing this is what I look like. And then once it started to grow out, I was like, ‘Oh I can’t believe how GOOD I look. I am like a unicorn, I am mystical. Why did I ever let myself become ashamed of it?’ Before I couldn’t embrace my own natural essence. And that hurt the most. At age 44, to never have seen what I really look like. That was a hard pill to swallow. The big hidden blessing [of going gray] was true self love and acceptance.
Even though society hasn’t changed yet…I am still so grateful. And happy that I am riding the waves as a unicorn now…I am looking at round 2 of my life with serious intention for what is most important. It is so much more than hair. It is not just about my hair…but here we are. Full Gandolf.”