For many women one of the biggest public markers of getting old is going grey. How this happens varies enormously with the individual with some finding their first grey hair in their twenties and other still not grey in their seventies. Attitudes vary enormously too, with some continuing to colour their hair all their life and others embracing their new grey persona.
Personally I have gone for a middle way. When I was about 50 I realised that my hair was going to go rather a nice shade of grey, silver even. So I decided that when it was pretty much all grey I would stop colouring it. This was not the decision most of my contemporaries were coming to and I guess a factor is that I have always admired older women with beautifully coiffed grey hair. Think Honor Blackman here.
When I was about 55 I took the plunge I stopped colouring my hair. The results were immediate I got offered seats on the underground, people in shops asked if I qualified for a pensioner discount. It was as if I as an individual didn’t exist anymore, I had become invisible underneath my crown of grey.
What to do? I didn’t really want to go back to colouring my hair but I didn’t much like what was happening so I needed a solution. In the past I had been quite experimental with hair colour trying different coloured highlights. So after consultation with my hairdresser we I decided on a few bright pink highlights – I just love bright colours. The rest as they say is history and I haven’t looked back.
What has really surprised me though is the number of random strangers who tell be how much they like my hair. I’m talking shop assistants, strangers at the theatre and most surprisingly, when I have been travelling, street food vendors or people riding past on scooters.
“It dawned on me that one of the reasons older women are invisible is because so many dye their hair to cover the grey”
This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism