I was at the hairdressers’ recently and I was chatting to the lady in the chair next to mine. We got to talking about having your hair dyed, and other people’s reactions to it. The lady I was talking to was 70 years old and, like me, at the hairdressers for her regular ‘colour’. She told me that her daughter totally, and volubly, disapproves of her getting her hair dyed: apparently she feels it’s not at all appropriate for a woman of her mother’s age. I couldn’t help thinking that a) it was none of her daughter’s business whether her mum had her hair dyed or not, and b) is there really an age when it’s no longer ‘appropriate’ to dye your hair?
I used to be naturally blonde but my hair’s been dyed a reddish brown for so many years that I have no idea what colour it would be if I stopped having it dyed. Judging by the amount of grey that appears at my roots in between hair appointments, I think I’d probably be surprised at how much grey I have now! One of the most elegant and beautiful women I know is in her mid-sixties – she has long grey / silver hair that she ties up and dresses beautifully. It looks wonderful on her, and I think I’d probably be very happy if I could carry off grey hair as glamorously as she does, one day – but I’m just not quite ready to go grey yet.
I’m not consciously striving to look younger in other people’s eyes – or at least I don’t think I am. I do it for me, and I’m pretty sure nobody I know, or work with, is bothered either way. And anyway, while looking for images of women with grey hair I happened across this blog and I think most of the readers who’ve shared their stories about abandoning the dye bottle, actually look younger and more striking with their natural grey / white / silver hair.
Earlier this year, Durham University carried out an academic survey with Age with Attitude into the status of mid-life women in the business world. Results indicated that women in midlife feel very positive about themselves: they like themselves more as they get older; they are happier as they get older, and they are more likely to change their career mid-life. However, 82% said they are treated differently to younger women in the workplace, and I imagine the pressure women feel to look younger in these circumstances is significant. Received wisdom says that grey hair on a man equates to wisdom and maturity – valuable qualities in the business world – but in our image conscious and ageist society it would seem the same is not true for women and, in theory, one of the easiest ways for an older woman to look more youthful is to hide any evidence of grey hair with a bottle of dye.
Ironically, dyeing your hair grey has become a fashion statement among some young people this year, with Kelly Osbourne and Pixie Geldof among those who have dared to be grey. You can even buy grey clip-on hair extensions. It’s one way to try out the grey look and see if it suits I suppose!
I also have long hair and, at 49, it appears I’m now rapidly getting too old for that as well. Apparently short hair is more youthful when your face ages and the effects of gravity (and sun, smoking, diet etc) start to show. Really? Am I really too old to have long dyed hair? What difference can it possibly make to anyone else? It seems to me that the only advantage in having shorter hair when one gets older is that it helps not to have all that hair around your neck and face when one is having hot flushes So, at almost 50, with dyed long hair, it seems I might be doing it all wrong. But what the heck – I’m happy with it, for now.
And the lady at the hairdressers? Well she left with a very attractive subtle shade of blonde, and she looked great. I wonder how her daughter is coping…
Image credits – Silver Beauties by Teapots and Polka dots
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