Monday, January 30, 2017

Women Don't Even Know What We Look Like

A few months ago my friends and I met up for brunch at one of our houses. (As a side note, I highly recommend meeting for brunch because it makes you sound way fancier than you actually are and you get to eat dessert at 10 AM.)

After the kids picked at their eggs and ran off to play, the conversation among the adults turned to gray hair.

Because, you know, real women start to get gray hairs in their 30s. No one likes to tell you that, but they do.

Some of us at the table were already hiding grays. I'm still teetering on the edge at age 34, where every once in a while I'll catch my reflection and spot a strand that's possibly more white than blonde. But it's hard to say.

"So are you going to dye yours?" someone asked, pointing a fork at me.

Good question.

I mean, I kind of have to, right? When's the last time you met a woman under 70 with gray hair?

I can name exactly one. In our old neighborhood there was a gray-haired couple who were probably in their 50s. The weird thing about it is that while the husband's gray hair made him look his age, it made his wife look like his mother.

I am that unused to seeing an age-appropriate head of salt-and-pepper hair on a 50-year-old woman.

News flash: real women get gray hair.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

It's kind of like a funny story Phillip retold one day when he came home from work. One of his male coworkers went on a first date with someone; somehow they started talking about driver's license photos and his date handed hers over, warning "I didn't have makeup on that day, so this isn't really what I look like."

Of course we were sort of giggling at what a silly thing that was to say, but deep down it's not that far from the truth.

Women have collectively forgotten what we even look like. But when female celebrities of every age are Botoxed until they look like they're 25 and we're awash in a sea of impossibly blond 50- and 60-year old women every day, who can blame us?

Some days I wish that like men, we could just look how we look. But cultural norms say that older men look distinguished and older women just look old. There's no product called Touch of Gray for Women for a reason.

So will I color my hair when I start to go gray?

It's easy for me now, sitting at brunch with my not-really-graying hair, to laugh and say "Ain't nobody got time for that!" with a dismissive wave of my hand.

But when I'm looking in the mirror at a head of hair that's increasingly turning silver, will I feel differently? When my choice is between a box of Clairol Age Defy Dark Blonde #7 and looking like I could be my husband's mother?

The fact that I wear makeup now, almost every day in fact, makes me wonder if I will cave and start coloring my gray when it shows up.

But I hope I won't.

I hope I'll be proud of my laugh lines and my gray hair. We are who we are, after all, because of the experiences we've gone through to earn them.

Click to Share:
Unremarkable Files


Sarah Hynes said...

I've been going gray since 19, and have gone through phases of dyeing it and, at 29 and with my first baby, I dye it when I have time (ha!). My mom is 51 and just let hers go completely's beautiful, soft, and almost looks like highlights because of the various gray/white shades and doesn't make her look old at all!

Unknown said...

I'm 43 with salt and pepper hair, and so far my strategy is to get a really great haircut. It costs more, but not as much as coloring. I know several women who are totally gray, and the ones that look the best have very stylish haircuts.

Alicia @ Sweeping Up Joy said...

You're right that we just have no idea what we look like as young-ish but not young women.

As a blonde, it seems like it will be easy for you to put off that decision for awhile. I have dark hair, so my decision time is soon. Is it weird if I end up more gray than my mom? I'm pretty sure I'll end up on team gray.

Unknown said...

You know what's funny? I literally just posted about how I can't wait for my hair to turn gray! Maybe that's crazy, but I just think I'll rock it. Get back with me when the silver starts littering my locks though. (I'm still toying with the idea of Botox though. Sigh.)Being a woman is hard!

jeremy@thirstydaddy said...

Guys have their own issues. I'm pulling off the grey hair much better than I am the ever growing forehead space. #happynow

Jen said...

You have a way with words! Beautiful.

Peachy and her Mommy said...

Not all women hide the way they really look. I very rarely wear makeup and I don't dye my hair. I'm 35 and have been getting grayer every year since 30. If you see me on the street, you are looing at the real me. If you see me at a wedding, fancy event, or if you're looking at any photos of me online, not the real me. #happynowlinkup

Anna@stuffedveggies said...

I started turning grey at 12. My parents both had nearly solid white hair by their late 30's I let it go natural. By the time I turned 30, I was regularly being offered the senior discount at restaurants. Altho I'm fond of frugality, I didn't want to lie to get the discount. So, yes, I dye my hair.

Carolina Twin Mom / Mary Peterson said...

This is such an individual decision, isn't it? I certainly don't begrudge anyone their right to color their hair at any age! At age 42, I am naturally 50/50. The trouble is that as I've gotten older, that non-gray 50% has gotten progressively darker, making the grays that much more prominent.

SOOOOO, long story short, I have been coloring for 12 years. My thought at the time was, "If I am going to do this, why not have some fun with it!" So I became a redhead. It's been a blast!

You just do what makes YOU feel beautiful. #happynowlinkup

Unknown said...

I must not be like most women! I haven't dyed my hair in years, and makeup is only something that gets applied when I want to impress people (aka - hardly ever). That said, whenever the selfie side of my phone gets turned on, I always cringe. Maybe I should start using more makeup and hair dye....

Thanks for sharing at the #happynowlinkup!

Queen Mom Jen said...

Um, I color every 4 weeks... Than dang gray hair! But makeup, I only put on mascara and blush on Sundays and never during the rest of the week. #happynowlinkup

Sharon said...

Now listen, a couple of things: we have to have the body of a 15 year, face of a baby, personality of a minx, and spirit of a dove - no matter What our age! (Okay, okay. Jk, jk.) I am having to face off very seriously with such questions, as I am a woman of a certain age. Dye, dye, dye! But, I've drawn the line at machinery and surgery at my face or butt...And am a believer that many a woman has sold the rest of us down the river. And that's not cool. I'm not 'marching,' --- but 'protest' the positive in looking ones age, healthy, but one's age. And let's encourage a little appreciation for keeping it real. That's healthy.

Jenny Evans said...

I am so glad to hear that! I think the gray hair can be so beautiful, it's a shame we don't see it more!

Jenny Evans said...

You know, I think you're right: if you take care of your hair and yourself then the color of your hair matters less to how "old" you look. That's a great strategy.

Jenny Evans said...

I guess I didn't think about that... godspeed.

Jenny Evans said...

Absolutely. Color your grays or don't, but do it because you like it and not because you're afraid of what you look like otherwise.

PurpleSlob said...

I have dyed my hair in the past, just for a change. Purple was my fave! Bleached almost white was the worst. Red was fun!
I no longer dye to cover up the gray. That went about 10-ish years ago. God made my hair this color. He must wanna look at it this color! I do think I rock these pretty white wings, right at my ears!

Selena, The Rambler said...

What a GREAT post! I'm 41 (eek, did I just type that out loud?). And it's a constant battle of the grey hair. And I can tell you, only ONE aunt has let her hair go to salt & pepper. And she looks FAB btw. My grandmother has never let her hair go grey and she's 87. Haha. #happynowlinkup

Anne-Gaƫlle said...

No battle against the grey here. I embrace it all, the greys and the lines. I do sometimes (+/- every other year) dye my hair or highlight it but only when I want a change NEVER to cover the grey. Same for make up, usually don't wear any but once in a while, I get up and feel like it's a make up day!
I actually do find myself prettier with make up but doing it every day would imply getting up 15min earlier... and that's definitely not an option!

AuntSue said...

I was born a redhead, loved my red hair, the red hair was a big part of my identity. Planned to be like the lovely grandmother around the corner, who stayed a red head till she passed at almost 100. But my daughters got tired of my dyed red hair. Three years ago my long read hair was changed to a natural white bob by my daughter's friend, a great beautician. At first I was horrified, I looked in the mirror and saw "AUNT JOYCE"! But now i really like my hair, and its natural waves work well. Now instead of just mascara and eye shadow, it is often just lipstick in a bolder color. I get lots of compliments from women my age and from very cute and beautiful young women. (I know, I am shocked!) My mother had dark hair, and dyed he grey until it caused allergies. Then she became a gorgeous salt and pepper. Now at 86, she is beautifully white.