When I heard that Hillary Clinton recently had a NYC salon closed to patrons while she had her hair colored, it made me feel pretty sad. It wasn’t that she paid $600 for the dye job. It was the fact that she felt she had to do it at all.
For years, women have been given the message that ‘gray’ is not acceptable. Even my grandmother once fell for the TV ads that encouraged her to, “Rinse away the gray.” When the first rinse didn’t last, she applied some gunk that resembled shoe polish on her gray streaks. I watched her perform the task in front of the bathroom mirror. A few hours later she looked at herself and said, “Oh, dear. I look ridiculous.” And she did.
Now I have many friends who would not dream of letting 6 weeks go by without a visit to their colorist. They tell me that it makes them feel better, “not to look so old.” But I believe that if we lived in a culture that accepted us as is, we would be lots happier AND richer. We don’t need something superficial to make us, ‘feel better.’ Our culture should make us feel good about ourselves just as we are–at every age.
Isn’t it odd that in this day of political correctness, we accept every, conceivable minority group yet still consider aging, graying and the old negatively? And you know what’s really weird? The elderly are not even in the ‘minority’ anymore. We are the majority now. We need to change the lyrics to that ‘old’ song: “Nope, the old grey mare ain’t what she used to be. She’s even more glorious now.”
40 years ago I lived in a condo with a walking path that passed by my living room window. Every afternoon, an older lady took her daily walk. As she passed, I always stopped what I was doing to watch her. Her posture was straight and elegant, her stride, long and smooth and her hair? It was solid gray and swept back into a very, long ponytail. I remember thinking to myself, ‘Someday when I am THAT old, I want to look JUST like her.’ Looking in the mirror, I can see that I am well on my way.
Hi Helen, Let me tell you why I color my hair. I wish to be ageless. I read once of an experiment: Researchers seated a woman in a room and gave viewers something to look at her through that would give them the direction of the eyes’ gaze. They filed past and most if not all looked at her face, body and hair about equally, then estimated hr age as between 30 and 40. Next they put a grey wig on her and paraded the viewing point. The vast number looked mainly at her hair and estimated her age as between 45 and 60. Most looked only at her hair! Enough said? Very telling. I never tell people my age because invariably they say (or they used to when I did) I had no idea you were that (underlined) old. Well, I am not any old, I am ageless. Grey is not ageless. Grey speaks age, unless you are prematurely grey in which case you look interesting. Thanks for your writing It is always nice to read. Warmest wishes, Tasha
Well, Tasha: I get it. I really do and THAT is the very “ageism” quotient I would like to remove from out society. Realize that in both primitive and modern cultures gray-haired folks were revered and respected if not idolized. That said, trust me: if I were in a room with you I would not notice your hair one whit. Instead, I would hear your measured voice, see your wise and still sparkling eyes and sense your compassionate heart. In the end, what else matters?
I’m old enough-and you are too-to remember back to the early 1960’s when grey haired women tinted their hair with a blue, pink, green or heaven forbid, purple rinse. All these colors let the grey hair show through. But in my mind, even at that time as a young boy, those women still looked “old” no matter how they tried to glamorize their grey.
Recently, I saw a woman with grey hair wearing it in a page boy style, and it was incredibly attractive. I just about went over and complimented her. Probably should have.
There are different shades of natural grey hair. My favorite color is the steel grey-and my least favorite is the yellowed grey. If one wants to leave their hair a natural grey, I say “Go for it.”
We all age, and those that color their hair usually look or are “fakey” in other ways too. Colored hair is not a very “honest” look-and it must be incredibly expensive to maintain.
Colored hair isn’t probably to healthy for the body either-specifically the brain. Many hair colors have heavy metals in them-and heavy metals in the brain have been linked to Alzheimer’s Disease.
I’ll let my hair stay as it is. Of course, I’m a man, so deciding the color of my hair isn’t high on my priority list.
Amen….and again, Sir, I say…AMEN!!
I am with you on that. So many friends tell me to dye my hair but I resisted their suggestion. Making my hair black doesn’t lessen my being old. Besides, I love my gray hair. It gives me a look of respectability.
You are so right: dyeing one’s hair does not “lessen” one being old and gray hair DOES lend a look of respectability!
My 94 year old grandpa used to sing, “The Ol’ grey mare she ain’t what she used to be…….about himself…” with a great laugh.