Silver Foxes

Grayhair_2On more than one occasion I’ve wondered why there are no female Jack Blacks or Tony Bourdains and now I’m miffed by the absence of lady Anderson Coopers (hell, I’ll even take Taylor Hicks).

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?

Image from Art Deco Blog

6 thoughts on “Silver Foxes

  1. I have a very similar problem with gray hair (dark hair, light skin) but I recently got my hair highlighted which really hid the gray. You may want to try something like that rather than going all blonde or destroying your hair by dying it every 4 weeks (like I used to do).

    EmmyLou Harris is the only one I can think of who has had gray/white hair forever. I know she’s in her 50’s now – but even 10 years ago I think she was sporting the silver tresses.

  2. Hi, there. I’m 28 and started graying at age 11 1/2. I dyed my hair between the ages of 12 and 19, but after that just let my roots grow out, braided it while doing this (since my hair was long), then snipped all the coloured hair off once it was close enough to cheek/chin length. I ended up with a cute silvery cleopatra!

    Since then, I have never dyed my hair again — and I likely never will. After all the teasing in my youth, I finally have come to see the romantic beauty in my grey (that has actually turned into a platinum-snow tone over the past 5 years). Quit the bottle — and by that, I mean the dye!

    Give me a shout if you’d like to see some photos of what you are missing. Trust me, you will love the change if you give it a try. 😉

    As for a female silver fox in the public eye, look no further than Emmylou Harris. She too has rocked the grey and rocked it well.

    Ruzsa T.

  3. Btw, I’d like to send a thanks to Krista (above) for her direction toward the Going Gray, Looking Great website. I’m excited to see others proudly sporting this look. Refreshing after a lifetime of never seeing oneself represented! 😀


  4. Sharon: Love the site. I’m all for the going gray movement.

    Ruzsa: I think there are probably more women in their teens and 20s with grays, but you just wouldn’t know it because everyone’s so dye crazy. I haven’t used any permanent dye in months so I’m still testing the waters with whether or not I want to let the gray just show.

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