I’m of the age where most of my friends are starting to go grey. Late 30s, early 40s, lots of salt and pepper around the ears. We’re starting to rock grey and impending middle age.
Ok, I jest! Most of my MALE friends are starting to rock the grey. Some of my female friends are accepting their aging hair, but the majority of us are still conforming to the unspoken edict that a women under the age of 60 must not be grey.
Even those women who do go grey are often bound by fashion and public expectation to colour their hair into a fabulous silver or platinum white. Now, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look fabulous, but when you’re spending $200+ every 6 or so weeks to “own the grey” you’re not really letting your hair go natural. Especially when silvery hues happen to be trendy, as current luck would have it. This is at the heart of the problem: men may age gracefully as nature allows; women may age gracefully, provided they spend an inordinate amount of time, money and effort doing it.
Now, I’m not the type of person to be especially concerned about my face and hair being seen in public, au naturel. For a start, I have curly hair – who can be bothered coiffing that frizz every bloody day. Also, when it became a thing a couple of years ago to “bravely” post a selfie without make up, I raised my eyebrows and smugly noted to self, “yeah, I’m not wearing any make-up in about half of my Facebook profile pics.” Such is the advantage of not wearing much make-up even when you are wearing it; the contrast isn’t that horrific. However, I still don’t think being seen without make-up is a particularly brave thing on the universal bravery scale. I’ve also never plucked my eyebrows. Lucky me!
Of course, I’m completely vain, but my style, look, whatever, doesn’t rely on overly complicated make-up and hair.
However, about that hair. Grey hair doesn’t actually bother me, but I will confess to hiding my encroaching brownness from the world. You see, since my early 30s, probably due to age and the hormones of having children, my hair has lost of a lot of its red. So much so that I don’t think that this hair exists anymore.
|Paris, 2005. Not even close to peak redness.|
At least not on my head.
The funny thing about having red hair is that everyone spends your entire childhood making a point of reminding you that you have it, but as soon as you don’t, the world is equally perplexed and appalled by you not having it. Gingers of the world take note: you shall be vilified, but then pilloried should you respond to the vilification. KNOW YOUR PLACE.
Actually, it’s the pro red-hair people who respond to any changes (natural or otherwise) with the most fervour. On my wedding day, a family friend who hadn’t seen me in the better part of a decade, chastised me for my hair. I didn’t know what he was on about at first, but I just reasoned that he expected to see this:
|Lower Hutt, 1980|
But saw this instead:
Oh, the auburn horror. Sorry, dude, I just got old.
Anyway, once deemed a redhead you are expected by many to be a vanguard for the cause, and to deny the red - even if it’s your own body doing it – is a social statement. That’s why you see so many older women with unnaturally orange or magenta tones. They’ve forgotten what colour their hair actually was, and the act of replicating it has gone horribly wrong.
I’m somewhat reluctant to go down that route and try to temper any dyes or rinses that go through my hair, but of late I’m struck by the irony of spending $200+ every 6 or so weeks to make my hair look “natural”. But what will the roots reveal?
Probably something like this:
However, roots never tell the full story, because red hair responds to light and brightens in the sunshine. Your roots are always darker than the tips.
Probably I’m just a dull brown with flecks of the old red and strands of the new grey, but is that really a problem? Do I have to hide the inevitability of age?
I reckon the only intelligent thing to do is grow it out and find out, but I will prepare myself for people giving their opinions of my hideousness.
(I might put some highlights in to help the process and cover the grow out line. I did mention that I’m still completely vain.)