Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Old Grey Mère.

The day of my wedding, I discovered my first grey hair.

The day I returned home from my honeymoon, I dyed my first grey hair.

Two years ago I gave up the pretense, and went natural. To my surprise it turned out I didn't have that much grey hair, less than 5%. Which is pretty good for a woman in her late 30s. It is -- believe it or not -- completely normal for a woman in her late 30s to have A LOT of grey hair.

I feel pretty good about my SMATTERING of grey hair, until I start looking around for greying role-models. Here are some of the photos I found of prominent (in Canada, the US or the UK) female politicians, authors, scientists, activists, singers, or actresses who were embracing their grey:

Wow. Seven women with grey hair. That's it?! Seven women. Most of whom are old age pensioners. None are in their 30s:
                    Toni Morrison, age 80
                    Judi Dench, age 76
                    Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, age 63
                    Roseanne Arnold/Barr/whatever, age 58
                    Jamie Lee Curtis, age 52
                    Nicole Kidman, age 43 (this photo is from 2008, she was 40 & pregnant)

I understand why women (and men **cough* David Boreanaz from Bones *cough**) are averse to going grey. We are a society that reveres youth. Grey hair tells the world, "Oh sure, I put on a brave face by downloading songs from iTunes, but I still remember and long for the days of buying vinyl records for $2.00 at Woolco." Also it means you're going to be dead in the next 50 years.

It's not that I -- with my SMATTERING of grey -- am above vanity. Quite the opposite. Vanity is one of the reasons I stopped visiting the hair dye section of the drugstore even though I really enjoy stroking the hair samples (they're the next best thing to styling Barbie Doll hair). The other factors were fear, and a need to retain the modicum of dignity that I cling to even as I pluck rogue black hairs from my chin.

I don't want to be one of those women who thinks her auburn hair distracts from the crepey skin about her bosom, the softening of her chin and her gristly hands. Until the day she looks in the mirror and realizes her hair has an odd, synthetic, purplish-pink undertone that fools no one. Also I knew that eventually I'd have to let my hair go natural, and the shock of unmasking a full head of grey hair would devastate me.

So I'm here.


With my grey.

*Edited April 14: One of these days I'm going to get the hang of this new-fangled "proof reading" craze the kids are always going on about. 


  1. Dying your hair & keeping it so your roots don't let the gray cat out of the bag is a lot of work. Screw that.

    Besides, both my grandmothers went that beautiful silver/white color, why would I want to cover that up?

    I'd give my brand new eye teeth for Michelle Obama & Hilary Clinton to both let their hair go natural.

  2. I am 100% grey and I 100% colour it. If I just had a little grey I might let it go but not for the amount I have. Plus I'm vain. I will probably be that old woman with the auburn hair and crepey bosoms on display. Likely I will be wearing my elastic waisted slacks with my fancy polyester blouses and I will think I'm one hot GILF. While spraying myself with Chanel No 5.

    There is a woman in this month's O Mag (GIFT SUBSCRIPTION. DON'T JUDGE) who is really young and completely silver grey and she is gorgeous. Check it out!

  3. @Eryn -- I'm looking forward to being called a silver fox. Sure, I will probably be the only one using my sobriquet, but I'm going to enjoy it.

    I think both Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton would look great silver.

    @Nicole -- I'm already wearing elastic waisted slacks and a polyester blouse, aka yoga pants and a polar fleece top!

    You know who's 100% grey and needs to give up the myth of auburn hair? Susan Sarandon. She's 64. Come over to the grey side, Susan.

  4. I started getting grey hair in my early 20's. I dyed it for awhile but now I let it grow. I deserved every strand lol.

  5. My husband has beautiful raven black hair. He's started growing these WHITE hairs along his temples. And it's hot. Him finding a gray nose hair was an insult to him, though.

    You guys will have to hold me to 3 things as I age, 1:I won't bitch about laugh lines (We EARNED those), 2: I won't dye my hair unless it's some outrageous color like Crimson Glow (a' la My So-Called Life), & 3: Animal prints belong on animals, not 80 year old women.

  6. I love that at least my husband has more gray than I do (he is 42, I am 41). He has this little streak right at the front and I call him Pepe Le Pew because of it. Of course, it looks GOOD on him though. My gray hairs are just here and there, loners, and they do not play well and lay along side the rest of my hairs. Not only that but if I dye my hair it seems NEW gray hairs pop out of my head in defiance! ACK!!!!

  7. I started going gray in my early 20s and colored for about ten years, then stopped. I'm 42 now and have long, gray, silver and white hair. EVERYONE tells me I should color it or asks why I don't. People think my son is my grandchild. I don't care, I like it, I like not having to worry about it and I'm keeping it. Age is not something I fear. I think that's they key, fear of aging in a society that worships youth.

  8. I'm not against gray hair but mine just makes me look washed-out and haggard, especially added to my normal mouse-brown colour - I get highlights when i can't take it any more. Also, *snort* you said new-fangled. And Woolco. And Susan Sarandon is 64?????

  9. I think grey hair can look great. However, my hair has gone sort of mousy so I totally dye it. Judge me if you dare!

  10. @Brandy Rose -- excellent attitude!

    @Eryn -- Greying at the temples is such a distinguished look. My nose hairs -- regardless of colour -- distress me.

    @Robyn -- One of the thing that I find most fascinating is that initially your hair doesn't grow in grey. It comes in coloured and then poof one day it loses all it's pigment. So odd.

    @Terri -- I think long grey/silver/white hair is so stylish. Good for you.

    @Bibliomama -- I'm hoping that my skin tone is more suited to grey than it was to the platinum blonde shade I attempted for 3 hideous weeks in 1998. Don't ask.

    planetnomad -- my hair has always been very mousy. Quite frankly the grey in an improvement. I wouldn't dare judge you -- you're too spicy!

  11. I should start posting pics of my hair as I let it go gray. Also, how do you guys decide what percentage of gray your hair is? I don't know how to do that.

  12. I stopped coloring my hair right at the ripe old age of 30 (was tired of dark roots on my highlights and wrote a whole post about it...). I haven't seen grey hairs yet, but I do know that they are coming.

    The facial hair though. It is disturbing. Chin. Jawline. What the!? So am considering removal options beyond plucking them out by hand while waiting in the school line up while looking in my rearview mirror because I do fear that I'm probably getting a reputation. Crazy-facial-hair-plucking-lady or something like that.

  13. It took me awhile to realize those shiny hairs were actually grey! I normally don't colour my hair, but got a salon gift certificate to a very fancy salon I used to go to and poof my hair is now grey free again. I am not sure if I will keep it up though, mine blend in pretty well. Time and vanity will tell.