I’ve written about this many times and it always strikes a chord. Why? It’s not easy to grow old in Western culture and as women we know it’s particularly hard for us. I do think things are changing for the better and particularly on the political stage where women are increasingly accepted as leaders and in some cases as leaders head and shoulders above their male counterparts. I’m happy about that but like you, remain frustrated at the lack of women in the C-suite and on boards which are still dominated and trusted to grey-haired men. Where are the grey-haired women?
I started to accumulate grey hairs in my early 30s and had a chunk right in front by the time I was 40. It remains the most solid bit of grey in my now overall greying hair. I like to think it’s because located where it is on the left side of my head where all that linear thinking is supposed to take place – an ongoing challenge. I’m only half-kidding.
For me it was just too much trouble to try to keep up with the relentless brunette hairs and I’m too fidgety to sit in a salon to have someone more talented handle it, and too lazy to manage it at home. And so, I’ve taken the plunge. I have to say, as a side attraction, I’m quite happy not to have the chemicals on my scalp and then draining into the water system but make no mistake, I’m not doing this for environmental reasons, it’s really out of pure laziness and something else. The something else is a stubborn determination to stay true to my age. Why should I have to hide it?
What it doesn’t mean:
- It doesn’t mean I’ve gone dotty
- It doesn’t mean I know longer want to look attractive
- It doesn’t mean I’ve thrown in the towel on any aspect of my future
And it’s certainly not because I’ve overcome all claims to vanity. Lord no! I’m still as vain as ever. Prepared, however, to expend my energy on maintaining my physique, keeping to a certain sartorial standard (though without heels or pantyhose), and focusing on sleep to keep the bags at bay. Vain yes, lazy yes. It’s tricky.
What I’ve always found so interesting is how young women respond to my greying hair – they love it. I’m not exactly sure when faced with the full effect themselves that they will make my choice but it seems to render some inspired. I believe it’s seen as courageous which is both terrific and a bit sad.
I do think if you’re a blonde you have an advantage in that greys mix so well with blonde. If you’re anything else (red, brunette) then I admire your commitment to your beautiful colour. I love beautifully coloured and styled hair – the fact that I’ve gone the low maintenance route does not in any way reflect my love for your coloured, blown-dry, curled locks. Thank you for improving the look of virtually every public place in the world.
Men don’t have this dilemma of course. Maybe some do but men who colour their hair are still considered unpleasantly vain. Never an attractive quality in a man. As we know, men are just as vain as women (the difference is between people not genders) but they have to hide their vanity whereas in women it’s often considered a sign of femininity. Funny that.
When I do happen to see a woman who is allowing her hair to grey, it’s always a surprise. ‘Ah, there’s another one’ I say to myself, ‘What’s her story?’ More often than not I’m surrounded by a sea of colour. Some good, some gorgeous, some completely unnecessary, meaning why at 25 are you colouring your naturally luscious hair? But that’s your business.
A big part of keeping grey at bay is economic, as so many things are for women. Let’s talk about that in an upcoming post.