Monday, 7 March 2016

Going Grey Or Not? That Is The Question.


Marvellous Mary Beard is courageous for keeping her hair white particularly as she is in the public eye. I don't object to her full white head of hair, but if I was her stylist (not that she would ever agree to a stylist) I would ask her to cut it. I am obsessed with the white and grey hairs along my parting, which are gathering pace. I ignore it for a few days/weeks until the idea of it begins to loom larger than life. It gets to a point when I am talking to people and I'm wondering if they are noticing it; I become more and more conscious of the shadow of wiry white hair on the top of my head and wonder if that  is it all they can see when they look at me?  I say this knowing that most people won't notice too much, but there was a childish man at a party a few weeks ago, who mentioned "the white streak," on my head. (He also calls me "Keith" instead of Kate, going far back to some kind of in joke when he thought I looked like a man in a photograph - as you can see, he's quite a wind-up.)

I used to attend to the diminishing colour in my hair every few months, but I have noticed recently that the white/grey is sprouting more aggressively. When it becomes too obvious, I have a desperate need to cover it up, whether it’s by dashing to the hairdresser, using spay colour, Wow powder (see you tube video below)  or Daniel Field dye at home.  My wiry white and grey hairs appear around my parting. The bold white hairs look messy and let’s face it, ageing.  I wonder what do other women do? As their hair becomes whiter  more quickly do the majority dye it or accept it? I'm sure it must get to a point when it becomes overwhelming. Do dark-haired women use lighter streaks to make the white blend more easily? Do they become blond? How does it work? Do they dye once a week? Surely it would become too expensive to rush to the hairdresser every 10 days or so.

What do you all do?  Please give me some tips!

I will be looking at women in the street (for research) just as I used to when I became pregnant (when suddenly pregnant women were everywhere) or when I had my first child and noticed all the women pushing prams or carrying babies - they too were ubiquitous, now not so much. Recently I have clapped internally when I see older women celebrated and becoming more vital and respected. Why should the older woman be invisible?  There is a new model agency  for women over 35 and  documentaries  featuring fashion-conscious women. There are stylish women over 70  becoming faces of fashion houses - Joan Didion at Celine for example and there is the wonderful Diana Athill, aged 98 and still writing memoirs of her life, giving talks and being interesting. There are plenty of other examples I just don’t have the time to gather them all together.

I was dying my hair at the weekend when my children (age 14 and 11) asked me why.  I did not really give them a satisfactory reply. My son said that if all us women got together and stopped dyeing our hair than none of would have to. I think that if we are to celebrate becoming older, and making the concept less shameful perhaps we should stop dying our hair and botoxing our wrinkles. It should be called the grey haired revolution. But I don’t want to jump first and that is why I admire Mary Beard. Maybe it is just because we have access to botox and fillers and dye that we do remain "youthful" and therefore "vital" and "visible." Sad but true.  I noticed when I went to hear the great iconic feminist Gloria Steinham talk the other night, she was still beautiful and vibrant at 83. Her hair was coloured and there were rumours that she had had "work done." If she is a feminist and dyes her hair and lifts her face, then maybe its not so bad after all. That is what I will tell my kids when they next ask me. I will say:  for the moment, women have a job to remain visible in society and if grey doesn't look youthful on them, dyeing is the way to go.