Yes, the men are distinguished with gray hair while similarly coiffed women are hags double standard is as old as…well, a woman who’s stopped coloring her hair. As if the fairer sex would ever demand a product called Touch of Gray.
I never understood women going blonde as they got older. My mom, naturally light brown, has been bright blonde for probably 20 years. I know other moms who’ve blonded over the years, too. But now I get it; it’s the gray. It’s much easier to cover grays with lighter shades and the roots aren’t as noticeable as they grow in.
As someone who has been graying since her mid-20s (late 30s is premature enough to warrant an article?), I’m to the point where I’m being driven insane by my mess of never-ending silver strands. If I were a perfectionist I’d have to color my hair once a month, as my hair only looks good for about two weeks after dying it. The pale roots poke out within days and all the grays that were dyed dark brown fade to a coppery hue and it looks like shit until I dye it again and it’s killing my hair. And it’s only going to get worse with each year.
But I had a half-baked epiphany on the subway the other day. I noticed a completely silver-haired elderly woman who had grown-out champagne blonde tips. Hmm, why fight with blacks and browns when you can just tone the silver to blonde?
I’ve always loved pale shades of blonde and tried many times in my youth to obtain platinum locks; first in my teens as an interim step to achieve Manic Panic fuchsia and midnight blue (I once bleached my hair five times in 24 hours and lost a patch of hair and scabbed up my scalp) and into my early 20s just for the heck of it.
The only thing is I’m not sure how much gray I actually have so it’s hard to say if it will end up patchy, skunky, salt and pepper, or for all I know, pure white. There might not even be any brown left. When I lift up my hair to peek at my roots I only see silver. And it’s going to take a lot of patience and ugliness to find out, if I even follow through with this growing out business. I’m half-inclined to just break out the Miss Clairol #48D Sable Brown this weekend.
I’m not someone defined by something as ornamental as hair (one of the most baffling aspects of womanhood to me–besides thinking that your hair will help kids with cancer–is crying over a haircut—the shit grows back) but I’m not so vanity-free that I want to be perceived as older (I’ve generally enjoyed being mistaken as younger than my age, probably just because I’m immature). I would hate to be lumped in with the joyless late-in-life mommies I see in certain parts of Brooklyn who think not wearing make up and keeping their natural hair color makes them intellectual rather than merely frumpy.
Or you can just end up looking like a less attractive version of yourself. Pale-skinned, naturally dark-haired women frequently look off with blonde hair. I remember hating Winona Ryder’s hair in Edward Scissorhands (see, I am old—that’s quite the dated reference). Rose McGowan is a looker but I’m not crazy about her current (?) golden tresses (though perhaps those locks of love caused Robert Rodriguez to dump his wife of 16 years).
Then there’s the chance that you end up looking cartoony and ‘80s like Who’s that Girl-era Madonna, Gwen Stefani of all eras or model Agnyss Deyn, who is an inexplicable it girl to me but I’m not one to understand it girls.
There are next-to-no gray-haired role models for women, period, let alone for still-young women. Fictional Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada, Heloise and Jamie Lee Curtis? That’s it? I always thought Lauren Ezersky wore gray hair well, but the woman is now in her 50s. I highly doubt she had that signature look in her 30s. Can you think of one famous non-old female with gray hair?