When the weather was its early September peak of not-too-hot and not-too-cold perfection, my husband and I felt comfortable enough to have an outdoor visit with some friends of mine from grade school. Nell, Mike and I met when we were in elementary school at St. Angela Merici in Fairview Park. That was a very, very long time ago. In dog years, it was several centuries ago.

The four of us sat in their wonderful backyard with plenty of social distancing and, well, socializing. I embarrassed myself by bringing packaged cookies and treats because I thought it would make everyone more comfortable by their inherent “no touching by me” nature. Nell was smarter and realized the oven would probably kill any germs. She made a completely awesome stuffed mushroom appetizer that made me quickly shove the Giant Eagle packaging in my carry bag hoping that out of sight was out of mind.

The evening went quickly as we caught up. Driving home, I had one of those “contemplate life” and “I am so lucky to have a great husband and friends” moments. COVID-19 has done more than just snap us out of our 21st-century complacency. It has helped me, at any rate, to realize how beautiful we are when we let Mother Nature do her thing. Many of my friends had no choice but to forgo monthly hair-dyeing rituals. They were forced to face something they probably hadn’t seen in decades: their natural hair color. Once the fear factor abated, many realized they liked what they saw. And the vast majority — 100% by my totally unscientific polling — realized that their natural hair color was just beautiful.

But fear of the outside world’s reaction was another hurdle.

Nell, a brunette her whole life, looks stunning with her white hair cut short into a pixie. I complimented her on the gorgeous look that seemed so, well, natural. She looked relieved and mentioned that she had wondered if she should have warned me.

My high school friend Kathy, who lives way out in Chagrin Falls, recently posted a selfie, showing her natural color. She is a natural redhead and for years, dyed her graying hair. The Facebook responses to the new look were overwhelming and sincere. She looked gorgeous with her natural lighter color, which was soft and flattering.

Soft. That is the description I’m looking for. Without exception, my friends who have stayed natural even after the salons reopened look so much softer, relaxed and natural. And did I mention gorgeous?

The logical next question you might have, dear readers, is whether I have “gone natural” too. The simple answer is that I’m a natural blonde and have been fortunate to have never dyed my hair. This isn’t an accomplishment. It just is a reality. Both of my parents were blonde. Both sets of grandparents — with the possible exception of one grandfather who was bald when I knew him — were blonde and blue-eyed. Four of the six siblings have stayed pure blonde as they aged (me, my sisters Mary and Katie, and my brother George). One sister and one brother had their hair turn a light brown. If my hair is going white, as I suspect it is, it blends in with the blonde.

I have a feeling there have been other beauty changes due to our isolation: shorter hairstyles, less extensions, no more straightening?

In my small world, I love seeing my friends embracing their natural look. I have one thing to say: You are all beautiful, regardless of hair color.

Contact this reporter at editor@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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