Going Gray


Now that Dancer Girl’s birthday has come and gone, I am forced to reconcile myself to the notion that I. Am. Next.  46 days to live out until I can no longer claim to be “in my thirties.”  It would be more poetic if there were 40 days left, but, oh well. 

The contemplation of my impending entrance into my forties as well as an examination of the increasing number of gray hairs suddenly making themselves known in my bangs, led to my picking up Anne Kreamer’s recent book, Going Gray.  More than a memoir of Kreamer’s transformation from a committed faux-brunette to a silver-haired woman of a certain age, Going Gray examines our perceptions of aging and society’s reactions to women who dare to go gray.  Kreamer reports the reactions of her family and friends to her announcement that she’s decided to stop coloring her hair, her experience with the physical process of growing out the color, and her research regarding how she was perceived in various life-arenas ranging from online dating to job searching.  It was an interesting read, particularly since the outcome of all this soul-searching about hair color was not always what I expected. 

And since I’ve read Kreamer’s book, I’ve made the effort to notice women around me and their hair color choices.  In a large meeting I attended recently, I saw only two women with gray hair, and I’d estimate that all but about five women in attendance were old enough to have had gray hair if they had foregone color treatment.  Neither my mother nor mother-in-law is gray, though I know that’s been my own mother’s natural color for over 30 years.  The trend toward having colored hair is so strong that I was surprised to see during her response to the State of the Union address on Monday that Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius has beautiful, natural gray hair.

And I like what it says about women when they wear their hair gray.  To me it says, “I’m confident about who I am and how I look.”  In an age of seemingly pervasive anti-aging efforts, from hair color to “mommy makeovers” via plastic surgery, it’s actually refreshing to see someone who doesn’t buy into it all. 

Refreshing, but I’m not sure totally convincing.  Because my gut reaction to seeing those gray hairs is to immediately, if not sooner, get rid of them.  For years, I just casually removed the stray grays.  It’s now gotten beyond that, so I’ve moved on to one of my new favorite products, John Frieda’s color glaze.  It blends those grays into lovely highlights. 

And anyone clicking on the above link might notice my penchant for Avon Anew Clinical Eyelift cream or remember my recent admission to investing in some microdermabrasion sessions.  So, how do I reconcile the desire to age gracefully with the equally strong, if not stronger, urge to keep looking good, which, in our society, seems to equate directly to looking young?

I don’t have all the answers, but for now I’ll be keeping up with the color glaze and holding off on the permanent color as well as the permanent surgical procedures!



Filed under Life in General, What I'm Reading

7 responses to “Going Gray

  1. I did buy the hair glaze – I just haven’t had a chance to start using it (only in motherhood would someone not have the chance to put something on hair for 3 minutes!)

  2. First of all, Happy Upcoming Birthday. Don’t fret it. I hit the mark over a year ago, I didn’t even drink myself into a coma.

    I heard on Fox news tonight, though, that the 40s is the most depressing decade for men and women, according to some study. I don’t buy it — but then again, i am perimenopausal and my family hates me for it.

    Anyway, onto the silver manes: my mom, a youngish 57, wanted to go all the way gray, but I told her it made her look too old. Hers was more of a dirt-gray. She dyed it black afterward. But, I work with a woman who wears a beautiful silver braid. Some folks can go gray gracefully.

  3. Rachel

    Happy almost birthday… I had the comfort of turning 40 three months pregnant (getting past morning sickness was a nice birthday present), but a little math tells you where that leaves me now…

    I’m struggling with the “gray” issue, and have been for a while. I’ve let gray become the dominant color a couple of times, but it just ends up looking drab, and I run for the hair color again. Maybe when DH is either gray or bald I’ll rethink.

  4. ramblingmom

    KNOCK WOOD — no matter what else about my body that I’m not real happy with — I haven’t “coloured” my hair since I put a product called “sun in” on it in the 70s Sun in and sunlight and you’ll be blonder tonight

    I just don’t show much gray. (And as I’m on the *other* side of the decade you are currently entering …)

  5. I am withstanding the urge to color for sure. I saw a spread in Oprah on woman keeping their hair gray and they all looked stunning! I also noticed Governor Sebelius’ hair and loved it. I am blessed I think with the right coloring to pull it off without looking washed out as Rachel mentions. That does have a lot to do with the decision process I would imagine.

  6. Pingback: It’s My Birthday, But I’m Not Crying « Somewhere In The Suburbs

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