Saturday, February 8, 2014

To Gray or Not to Gray?

Being a model helps
A fashion trend is emerging, at least in New York City,  and it’s one I’m not comfortable with.
Just as it became de rigeur for New York City men to wear black, black, and more black, a la Steve Jobs, it’s now white, white, and more white for women.
I’m talking hair.
I have two New Yorker friends who have joyfully stopped coloring their hair.  And the initial shock of arriving in town and seeing them au naturel is fading for me. They actually look pretty youthful, despite their hair. Or maybe I am seeing past their coiffes, in the way you do at a high school reunion, when after awhile your mind’s eye sees your old friends the way they once were.
Last night, at a dinner party, a woman whose hair is finally just growing back after chemotherapy, took off the gray manicured wig she was wearing.
I tried it on.
“You look good,” my husband said.  Dashing to a mirror, I didn’t recognize myself.
Was he just being polite? Or – as the guys at dinner said – “Think of the money  you’ll save!”
I hadn’t planned on writing about this major life transition that arguably should be easier to make once you’ve left your career. But an essay in today’s Wall St. Journal reinforced the queasiness of this decision, even for a woman’s spouse.
When his wife (who must live in New York) asked him if she should go gray, Rob Lazebnik writes that he had visions of being “married to the Queen of England.”
Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth

He pondered his discomfort, concluding that “society, sadly, deems old as unattractive, and that for some reason gray equals old more in women than in men.”
Congresswomen are not gray.
Women newscasters are not gray.
And no way did he really want his wife to go (old and) gray, though he couldn’t come out and say it.
After thinking about how to respond to her, he eventually “dropped a bomb, one that I knew would strike deep inside the bunker.” He told her: “You know, I remember when I met your mother and thought to myself what a great-looking gray-haired lady she was.”

Yeah. I’m not going to rush out to look like my mother for a little while longer. But then, I don’t live in New York.


Debbie Monosson said...

Bob Laebnik is a heathen. Ever since I let my hair go silver...I have had more men and women comment...more women saying I inspired them...and not for nothing..but I am 56 and have been seeing a man 20 years my junior who was attracted by my silver...we still live in a hypocritical society. I love Jamie Lee of the few to go natural...and look beautiful. Stop fooling yourselves...our skin and hair age together and coloring it darker makes your skin look older...
Honesty outside...and inside. A virtue.

Linda P. said...

My family doesn't gray much: our light reddish-brown hair just fades and adds a few gray hairs, growing mousier looking. Still, I originally began coloring my hair when my hair thinned and my stylist suggested that coloring it roughed up the shafts and made it look thicker. I colored it my original light reddish-brown, but the color wasn't the main point. I'd love to have my husband's thick, silvery hair. A few times, I mentioned to my husband that I might stop coloring it and asked his opinion. He never comments negatively on my clothing or hair styling choices, but he sort of gently suggested that I might keep coloring it, so I knew the idea bothered him. Fast forward several years, add in a chronic illness and a medication that weakened my hair and made it take color differently. The result was hair falling out by the handfuls after I had it colored. Mousy color but hair filling in versus original color and needing a wig: it wasn't a hard decision. My husband agrees, or at least he's being supportive.

Michael Willers said...

I think that women with gray hair look marvelous -- beautiful, dignified and intelligent. I think it is much less about the color of the hair, than it is about the style. If a woman wears her hair in a youthful way -- that is, not like my grandmother (rest her soul) or Queen Elizabeth did, coiffed up and all -- if a woman wears her hair in a youthful way, then it looks fantastic. I have even gone up to older women with gray hair worn naturally (don't tell my wife) and told them how beautiful their hair is. I even dye my own hair gray I think it is so awesome. Ok, maybe that's not true, but if my hair weren't naturally gray I should as heck would dye it so.