If you notice in my side elements, I'm reading a book called The Autoimmune Epidemic by Donna Jackson Nakazawa. I had seen this book on the shelf at Borders a couple of weeks ago, and I decided I'd probably just wait for paperback or check it out from the library. Hey, we're all trying to tighten our belts, right?
Well, we stopped in Daytona Beach on our way home, not far from where our son attended his freshman classes at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Most of the people who had been in town for "Speed Week" at the track had left, and the town was quiet. We visited the Barnes & Noble for a Starbucks fix before moving on, and my dear hubby picked up this book for me. I'm halfway through it now, and I'm finding what I'm reading to be informative, shocking, and enlightening.
I had already been considering leaving off hair dye from my life. I've been dying my hair since I was around 17 and enrolled in cosmetology courses in high school. (I figured if I wasn't going to college, I'd better have a trade - but I hated it). For awhile, I went back to my natural dark auburn hair (though I was a blonde-haired child). When my hubby noticed gray hair peppering my crown as we stood in the sunlight when I was in my mid-20s, however, I ran to the store for hair dye and haven't looked back.
It seems to be an acceptable rite in our society, whereas gray hair is not. It astounds me, really, what we do for fashion, beauty, and youth. We put chemicals on our hair to "wash" away the gray. We put preparations on our face to "moisturize" and smooth out wrinkles. We put more chemicals on our faces to give ourselves color and a smooth texture. Some even resort to permanent make-up, injections of botulism or collagen, or surgery to get rid of real or imagined vestiges of time on the face. We cannot accept aging or the natural look.
The last time I tried going natural with my hair (after my mom died and the illnesses ramped up), a friend of mine who is a number of years older than me gave me a terrible time about it. "You're too young to be old!" she said. She kept at me until I decided to go ahead and start dying my hair again. Though I've noticed that the dye looks more and more phony and damaging as we age, I gave in.
This book discusses many of the chemicals and heavy metals we encounter in our every day lives. While discussing the way genetics "loads the gun" for a propensity toward autoimmunity, it further asserts that our environment (through chemicals and viruses) pulls the trigger. One of the chemicals that it says women encounter on a regular and sustained basis is hair dye. Some studies link hair dye to the onset of lupus. Since my family is riddled with autoimmune illnesses (lupus, diabetes, Crohn's, MS, and rheumatoid arthritis), it seems prudent for me to leave off whatever chemicals I can.
With the onset of an uncontrollable itch that started in January (and is still going on), I am facing patch testing for chemical sensitivity next week to see what in my environment might be triggering or aggravating this condition. While I was somewhat better in the warmer, more humid environs of Florida, I still had a problem. The dermatologist even told me not to dye my hair until we figure out what's going on. Well, I don't plan to dye it anymore period. Not worth it. I'll just look my age, I suppose.
I don't plan to twist my hair into dreadlocks, go shampoo-less, switch to castile soap, or wash my clothing by beating it on a rock (assuming I could find a clean stream in which to do it), but I am going to have to be much more cognizant about ridding myself of the things I can - such as hair dye and most cosmetics. I'm going to have to use paint in my house that has low VOCs. I'm going to have to start using organic, environment safe cleaners in the house.
This book is to illness what An Inconvenient Truth is to global warming. It breaks it down, explains it, and sounds a warning. I'm hoping that by the end of it, I will have learned enough to start improving the quality of my life without harsh chemicals. I'm hoping there is a call to action I can share with you all. I'm hoping for better health.
So here's to granola and gray hair! I'll miss my red hair, but maybe I'll like the new color better. Maybe it will feel healthier and softer. Maybe I won't look in the mirror and wonder if it's looking fake to anyone else yet.
On another note, is anyone else excited about The Other Boleyn Girl coming out next Friday?? Gotta see it. Loved the book!
I'm off to start my work day. Stay warm people! It's certainly cold here in Maryland!
Peace - D