August 30, 2007

"If we had more role models like Helen Mirren and Emmylou Harris out there, more women would want gray hair."

Should women embrace the gray? That quote is from Anne Kreamer who wrote a whole book on the subject. Who reads such things? Oh, I think we know. And we know why they are published -- they are publicity magnets -- I say as I am magnetized into providing publicity.
“It feels deeply liberating to be off the treadmill of ‘Oh God, I have to get my roots done again,’” said Ms. Kreamer...
Women's liberation -- the physical, superficial kind. It's so 1970s.
[G]ray-haired celebrities [are few]. Those public figures with salt or peppered heads — George Clooney, Toni Morrison, Ms. Mirren, Anderson Cooper — tend to be preternaturally handsome people who play up their hair as a trademark feature....

In her book, Ms. Kreamer sets out to prove that an attractive noncelebrity can also remain alluring as she lets her ersatz brunette fade to gray.

The epiphany came when Ms. Kreamer, then 49, saw a photo of herself beside her teenage daughter and a gray-haired friend. She decided that they looked “real” while her dyed hair looked fraudulent.
Real? How far down that road are we going to travel?
“In one second, all my years of careful artifice, attempting to preserve what I thought of as a youthful look, were ripped away,” she writes. “All I saw was a kind of confused, schlubby middle-aged woman with hair dyed much too harshly.”
Get a better colorist! That's like becoming a nudist because you realize you have crappy clothes.

By the way, in my case, it's not a question of gray but pure white. (I always laugh when my enemies include in their attacks the lie that I bleach my hair. If I were a Yale law student, I'd sue them!) But I do occasionally think it would be interesting to see what it's like to go about with utterly white hair. It would change everything, wouldn't it? It might be an interesting bloggable, vloggable stunt. I should assign a dollar amount to it and urge PayPal contributions. Let's see: $50,000. Oh, don't balk! Kreamer is getting more than that for her scribblings.


peter hoh said...

It took some time, but I've finally convinced my wife to accept her natural hair color, which is graying a little.

SGT Ted said...

So an younger ageing boomer comes up against reality. Horrors! I bet her hair looked fake for quite some time, but she had been fooling herself.

OR, indeed, she should just find a better colorist, instead of having a teenage angst girl-fit of rebellion.

Ron said...

It would make the Cruella deVil impression that much easier and you could flaunt it in the face of their trollish taunts!

Me, I'm hopin' for David Lynch hair...

MadisonMan said...

Bad color jobs are very horrific to look at.

My one grandmother had white hair by the time she was 25. The other never had grey hair 'til she had a stroke in her 70s. I know who to blame for my hair color.

Bruce Hayden said...

As a guy, I didn't have the problem with accepting the inner gray. But because I still have a lot of hair, apparently, according to at least some women, a lot of gray supposedly looks good on me.

Nevertheless, it does bother me that almost all of the women of our generation have refused to go gray. Maybe it is that the Boomer generation is refusing to accept that they are aging and nearing retirement. Instead, we see huge advertising for all sorts of cosmetic surgery, Botox, etcc.

The younger sister of a good friend of mine accepted her inner gray, and it turned her from being decent looking to stunning. Her hair is almost white, it is well cut in a modern cut, and just looks awesome.

I just wish more of the women of my generation would accept the reality of our aging.

Synova said...

White can look very nice.

And yes, good color makes a world of difference.

And I'd say that gray hair, or even white, doesn't necessarily mean old. There are people who start getting gray in their 20's. If more people just let that be the association of gray with elderly people would lessen.

Me? I'd rather my joints didn't hurt. I don't really care about *looking* old.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roger said...

Grey Schmy--what about folks like me who have no hair? Paint our pates?

For those women in their 50s who think they are fooling us with their articifical color--forget it; we just dont mention it to you!

Christy said...

My hair is silver, not gray! My stylist, a color specialist, refuses to mess with it.

Ann Althouse said...

Ruth Anne, I'm quite sure I've never talked about shaving my head. My idea was to stop touching up the roots and let them grow over the summer, which would probably be about 2 1/2 inches. Then, I'd have it cut to that length -- a high-quality haircut -- and it would be suddenly pure white and quite short. (But not that short.) I think that would be a funny thing to do. And I'd mean for it to look good.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Althouse said...

Is there a way to set up a dedicated PayPal button? But it doesn't seem fair to collect for such a high amount unless there is a way to make it contingent so that the money is only collected once the total pledges meet the goal. Then there has to be a way to lock it in before I start to do it and pay me when I accomplish the end. It's a 4 month project.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennifer said...

This is the woman who put up identical profiles - one with photoshopped in brown hair and one with her natural gray/silver hair - and found that men actually responded more to her gray hair profile.

I think the hair on her book cover is gorgeous. I hope when (if) my hair goes gray, it looks like that.

Joan said...

I'm 44 and have had my hair colored once in my life. I will never do it again. All of my friends said they loved it, I thought I looked like a zebra. I was happy when it grew out.

Like everyone else, I don't think the issue is with coloring the hair per se, but with coloring it properly. A bad dye job is a bad dye job; a good one should be indistinguishable from natural hair.

I think the question over allowing ourselves to "go gray" is linked to our interior age. How old do you feel, mentally? I still feel like I'm in my 30s; there's not too much disconnect between my actual age and my interior age. But what about when I'm 60, will I still "feel" like I'm 33? Will I experience too much cognitive dissonance if I feel 33 and look into the mirror and see myself with a full head of gray hair? I think we'd all like to lock in our physical appearance so that it matches our internal perceptions of self; coloring hair is one way to do that.

MadisonMan said...

Ruth Anne should get a cut of the Egg Salad money and the haircut money.

Kirk said...


"what about folks like me who have no hair?"

I have it on good authority that male pattern baldness does not affect the jaw, so there's your answer--grow a beard!

Ruth Anne Adams,

"all the beautiful bald women"

An empty set, I assure you, unless you edit it to say formerly-beautiful.


Well, I'm 53 and still feel my inner 20-year-old, so there's hope!

George said...

Here's how the author described herself in her profile:

Favorite Things: Meat loaf, aquamarine blue, sunny weather, big dogs, black cats, Death Cab for Cutie, Philip Glass, jeans and yoga.

For the benefit of female readers of this website, I will now tell you how all men interpret all of the above "Favorite Things":

Meat loaf: I like to cook, and I like to cook the meals men like to eat. Not only that, I will also wash dishes and do lots of housework, just like Mom.

Aquamarine blue: I am a more-or-less normal heterosexual middle aged woman.

Sunny weather: See answer for 'blue' above. Plus, I might not be averse to the idea of sex outdoors.

Big dogs: I like my men big, strong, sloppy, and panting. Sometimes, maybe.

Black cats: Meaning unclear. Women are a mystery.

Death Cab for Cutie: I'm looking for a young guy, preferably mid-20s.

Philip Glass: I am a flaming liberal and/or into way far out avant garde art.

Jeans: My legs are to die for. And I've got a cute ass.

Yoga: I'll cook meatloaf, but I won't eat it. And you should see my downward facing dog.

I hope this clears things up.

lee david said...

Emmylou Harris has always been hot and she got even hotter as her hair turned gray.

blake said...

Ruth Anne--

The late Persis Khambatta?

From Inwood said...

Prof A

When you are old and gray and full of sleep and nodding by the fire....

But alas, you'll never be gray....

rsb said...

I saw Emmylou at Golden Gate Park with Elvis Costello and T-Bone Burnett last August and she was stunning.

NSC said...

At the risk of being run out of town, I prefer a woman who colors her hair over letting it go grey. Granted there is a time to let it go but the late 30s through the 50s seems too early to me. My wife has a great colorist though and that makes all the difference.

Still, if going grey makes you feel good then do it. If coloring makes you feel good do that.

I'm all for feeling good.

knoxwhirled said...

Silver-gray is lovely -- yellow or dirty gray, not so much. And what's "distinguished" on a man can look witchy on a woman.