The Grey Hair Taboo
My mother and I were chatting the other day about how she is considering giving up the hair dye. To paint the picture, she has beautiful long, blonde and curly hair. Said hair requires a lot of maintenance and I have been the benefactor of many an anti-frizz serum, too weak to tame her tresses. Letting her hair grow out into its ‘natural’ state, may (will) result in grey hair, tinged with the auburny colour she left behind in her teens. The transition phase could be very…ummm…interesting.
I did some research on how she could go about this transformation. The options are;
a. Shave her head.
b. Stop colouring cold turkey and endure twelve to eighteen months of weird-arse colours until it grows out. A significant cut can shorten this time. See Option a.
c. Option b. with lowlights or highlights added to blend the old colour and the new. I don’t know what lowlights are, but I’m sure the experience of growing out your hair would be one.
I am quite sure if Mum could just click her fingers and get the flowing silver locks she envisages, she would be chuffed. It is the getting there causing the concern.
All of this got me thinking. My mother is a woman of a certain age (I don’t know what this means, but she is over fifty and I presume it fits). Embracing her middle-agedness is appropriate. Ditching the bleach could be a defining moment, solidifying her acceptance of ageing and bringing freedom from the lack of pretence.
Her hair would scream “I am a grey-haired woman of advancing age and proud of it,” once it stopped screaming from the agony of growing out.
“I am comfortable in my own skin and wise to-boot. Now get over it you young whipper-snappers.” The hair would say this to anyone raising an eyebrow at an over-fifties woman with grey/auburn/blonde hair.
I am in my late thirties and have been colouring my naturally light-brown hair since my twenties. I had a ‘Go Blonde’ experiment go wrong, resulting in a regrettable three weeks of orange hair. Ronald McDonald has a more subtle do. I have also tried all hues of brown, with and without highlights, Rock chick reds and blackest of black. I am now on a regime of the ‘safe’ end of brown town, asymptomatic of being older, more sensible and the like.
My four to six week home hair colour regime was adequate up until a couple of years ago. Now I have grey/white/brown regrowth after two to three weeks. What is happening? I asked Ms Google and she told me it is completely normal to start greying in your thirties.
Say what now?
I thought grey hair was for…well…people much older than me. Did I mention I am only in my thirties? I may be clinging to the last few years of it, sure. And don’t get me wrong, grey hair looks great on George Clooney and Helen Mirren. But on me? No way. I thought I was the exception, with high stress over the past few years causing premature greys. Little did I know, the vast majority of people mid thirties and forties are dyeing the crap out of their hair to stay away from grey.
Women under fifty DO NOT showcase naturally grey hair
As for the over-fifties, well they must be keeping their colourists in shoes, wine and trips to Italy. And without being crass (ok, this may be a little crass), the rug mustn’t match the curtains anymore – unless they are colouring this area too? *sigh*
I have noticed there is very little representation of the naturally grey in the public arena. Most are men. The rest are elderly. In an interesting development, young celebrities such as Rihanna, Pink and Kelly Osbourne, are dyeing their hair grey. WTF? One can only assume this is a fashion statement or maybe they are going prematurely grey, and it is a clever anti-ageing tactic. F-you grey hair…I will dye you…grey.
Colouring my hair can be a drag. As a Mum, any personal maintenance is well down a long list. My greys are apparent more often than not. Why do we feel like we have to cover it up? Is it a taboo equal to having a female moustache?
I considered letting my hair grow out naturally. I imagined starting an anti-hair colour movement, similar to going makeup-free for charity. Instead of one day, it would be a year of no colours, dyes or highlights. In my mind I was creating websites, a social media campaign and badges asking women to join the movement and help raise funds for my chosen mental health charity. We would stand united in not giving a rats how our hair looks and help a good cause. Morning shows would interview me (once I was showing a sufficient amount of bastardised grey/brown), as a spectacle of ‘self-acceptance’.
Then my husband suggested I might regret a grandstand commitment to ditch the dye. My Bipolar might be showing. Idea extinguished. For now.
Maybe it is all about timing. I feel too young to let covering the grey go yet. Even my Mum is undecided. But in years to come – who knows. You may see me on a breakfast show after all.
Do you colour your hair? Do you feel like you are letting yourself go if you don’t cover the grey?
Posted on August 31, 2013, in Writing and tagged #humour, #mother, #mum, beauty, bipolar, colour, dye, fifty, forty, getting older, grey, hair, mature, taboo, thirty, transformation, women. Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.