Grey Hair Equals Fabulous!
This blog has been inspired by an article in today's Times by their fashion director, Anna Murphy. The 42 year old Murphy is writing about her decision to stop dyeing her hair and allowing it to revert to its natural colour - which is grey (see her photo below).
She speaks of the difficulty of doing something which might make her look older in an industry that sets great store by youth, creativity and vitality. However she makes an interesting case for the fact that her hair does not make her look older and that several of her colleagues have said that they admire her 'bravery' (!) and wish they could pluck up the courage to do the same.
A few weeks ago I was in a meeting with another woman who was in her late fifties. She had very dark mahogany hair which was beautifully cut and well styled and I kept looking at her and thinking that her hair was doing her no favours. The problem was that her face didn't match her hair which needed the skin tone of a 20 year old to set it off. I am pretty sure that a lot of the women reading this will be defending their own dye jobs and thinking "oh but grey hair is SO ageing". But they would be wrong.
Murphy quotes American author Anne Kreamer who wrote "Going Gray" in 2007. Kreamer decided to test peoples' perceptions of age according to hair colour. She sent out photographs of the same person with grey or dyed hair and asked (hundreds of different) people to guess their age. She found that the guessed age difference was only a year or two. So, if it doesn't make you look any younger and if in some cases it actually makes you look older, then why do so many women refuse to allow their hair to go whatever colour nature intended as they get older?
There are clearly many pressures on women to stay as youthful as possible.Competing in a workplace which puts an emphasis on being young and energetic is one. If the grey hairs start appearing in your 40's then you will reach for the dye and get locked into a time consuming and expensive cycle to cover your roots. The flak that the Duchess of Cambridge received in The Sun newspaper when her greying roots were spotted speaks volumes about the pressure on young women (The D of C is 33) to get rid of any signs of ageing. Long lustrous locks are also associated with being attractive to men. Women may still be dating in their forties and fifties, perhaps back on the market and wanting to be thought of as young (and vibrant and sexy) as possible.
Dating a silver fox might be seen as quite fun (George Clooney gets no flak for his greying hair) but dating a silver vixen is perceived as a no-no. However I would argue that for our generation, grey hair can be a sign of fabulousness. The message I get from the older women that I meet and from the hundreds of comments we get on our Facebook page is that we 'baby boomers' are not obsessed with looking younger - we just want to look the best possible, most fabulous version of ourselves. That means that we want to wear what we like, dress in stylish and colourful clothes, wear great make-up - including bright red lippie if we feel like it and say - loudly and proudly "this is what 55 looks like - or 65- or 75 get over it!"
I am going to conclude this with a paradox. So many women now routinely dye their hair (globally the hair dye industry is worth £4.7 billion) that if you want to be less invisible then let your hair go grey! As long as it's not tightly permed in sausages all over your head you won't look older - you will actually look far better than with a dark helmet of dyed hair. Anna Murphy must really stand out on the front row of all those fashion shows she attends in Paris, Milan and New York - and I think her greying hair looks terrific.
I love my ashy hair colour and just wish it would go whiter more quickly, however I have my tin hat at the ready because I know that this post will provoke howls of protest from all those of you who think that grey or white hair is synonymous with (in your mind) the horror of looking like a “little old lady" - in other words your own grandmother!
Note: Following the hair concerns I wrote about in this blog, I decided to do what I do best and create my own range of products! See below for my line of volume boosting, nourishing haircare products for mature hair...