Gray hair is inevitable. Yet, images of gray-haired people, particularly women, are rare. What gives?
It seems like every few months, a story about gray hair crops up, if you will, in the news cycle. See: Alexandra Grant, a.k.a.
The latest person to garner attention for failing to defy Mother Nature?
“There’s so much misogynist chatter in response to us that would never. Happen. About. A. Man,” Parker told Vogue in response. “It almost feels as if people don’t want us to be perfectly okay with where we are, as if they almost enjoy us being pained by who we are today, whether we choose to age naturally and not look perfect, or whether you do something if that makes you feel better. I know what I look like. I have no choice. What am I going to do about it? Stop aging? Disappear?”
The now gray-haired supermodel
Amen, Paulina. Seeing imagery of middle-aged celebrities looking like middle-aged ladies (sexy and gray) is exactly what the world needs now. Not only does this kind of imagery acknowledge that going gray is an inevitability not a choice (to echo SJP), but it’s something that we consider to be as chic for a woman as it is for a man.
Full disclosure: I still color my hair—for now. The irony is that throughout my teens and twenties, I colored my hair every shade found in nature and some that weren’t. I was
As a woman working in the beauty industry, my grays did not project the kind of youthful appearance I’d been trained (and advised others) to strive for. So, at around age thirty, I began doing the dance: Coloring my hair every six to eight weeks.
There are other reasons I continue to color my hair, too. For the uninitiated, transitioning to a full head of
You can let the non-pigmented strands slowly overtake the pigmented ones until they’re long enough that you can cut off the mismatched ends.
You can color the still pigmented parts so that they match your newly gray roots to achieve a uniform look.
Or, you can simply let the grays on your head valiantly stake their rightful claim among the colored patches on your scalp—Calico cat style—allowing the multiple hues to battle it out all over your head.
In addition to the rather laborious process itself, going gray involves having to explain to others why you’ve chosen to go gray and hearing what they think of your non-choice.
And, that’s where the importance of imagery comes in. Recently, scrolling through
I stretched and magnified the photo for about twenty minutes while confirming my suspicions because it’s so incredibly rare to see imagery of women, much less celebrities, comfortable enough in their own skin that it doesn’t matter what their hair is doing.
But, the truth is, women in their 50s and 60s are still largely expected to do the dance. The sight of them “letting themselves go” just doesn’t align with our deeply entrenched ideas about youth, virility, and relevancy. And, that’s just not fair.
Just like we need to see pictures of women with different eye colors, skin tones, and
For my part, I’ll continue to do the dance a while longer. But not much. Because fighting nature is tiring. And expensive. Maybe, through images of Sarah Jessica Parker and others normalizing gray, by the time I’m ready to face the inevitable, the world will be slightly less judgmental about
Because, the sooner we can accept that women go gray and that’s ok, the sooner we can stop having this dumb conversation.
Cover image via Offset’s