After reading Alyson Walsh’s piece in the Guardian today, I took a long, hard look at myself in the mirror and decided I disagree with pretty much ALL of it.
Firstly, that ain’t no grand embracing of nothing Ms Walsh; the change is barely visible, so don’t be patting yourself on your oh-so-brave back, just yet. If that delightfully subtle difference (and it is a lovely colour), required you to take a deep breath and steel yourself, then maybe you should question your own views of female ageing, rather than that of society’s. I for sure, don’t subscribe to the “you will be viewed differently” idea, one single bit.
I decided to embrace my grey last Autumn. I’d been on the turn since the day I got married, in 1997. Coincidence? I think not. Genuinely, I don’t think a single person has demonstrated a different attitude towards me as a result of the colour change. Why oh why, are we still mesmerised by the notion that changing your hair from brunette/blonde/red and every shade in between to grey, will result in you somehow appearing 20 years older overnight? I lost count of the number of people who said it to me when I mentioned I was going the whole hog grey. It’s only a psychological connection with your granny, nothing more. Unless the dye you were using contained formaldehyde, and through your hair cuticles was seeping into your blood stream and pickling you from the inside out; your face (maybe surprisingly), remains the same. If you are possessing of grey wiry hair now, then before you made the change, you had dyed wiry hair. Allowing your grey to show also doesn’t change the texture instantaneously.
OK yes, accepting that you are getting older is a complete steaming heap of sh*t, I don’t deny that for one minute, but that’s got nothing to do with my hair colour. It’s got everything to do with the fact that hangovers last for three months, two days and thirty-two minutes and my body doesn’t work as well as it did when I was in my twenties – read; less bendy. And it’s true, that is a little bitch (but don’t let’s forget my hair was greying then).…. But more than that, it’s the realisation that there are fewer years ahead than there were before, to enjoy life. I’VE STILL GOT SO MUCH TO DO AND SO MUCH TO SEE. *breathes rapidly into paper bag.
I’m increasingly intrigued to know why the sentence, “growing old gracefully”, seems to come with the notion of building a ceremonial pyre in whatever available space you have, constructed of every item of make-up/beauty product/nailcare/bubblyfragrancedpurepleasure you have ever owned, setting it ablaze and dancing around it naked, as if sending your old, narcissistic self off to Valhalla (or Hades, of course). Why “choose wrinkles over Botox and fillers, style over fashion…”? Why, Alyson, why?
Embracing grey doesn’t mean throwing your arms in the air and proclaiming, ‘fuck YOU Zara, I’m off to The Edinburgh Woollen Mill‘, and giving the hell up on bloody everything. Unless of course you find popping a bit of eyeliner on, or running a brush through your hair a massive effort of inconvenience, then; I apologise and please, go for your life. I’ll be in Sephora, followed by a little spree in the high street.
Wrinkles over Botox and fillers. Not necessarily. If you want to look the best version of yourself at whatever age, why not? Look at the glorious Carmen Dell‘Orefice (born in 1931), who once said, “If your ceiling was falling down, wouldn’t you fix it? I apply the same principle to myself.” Damn that woman could teach us all a thing or two about embracing the ageing process – in whatever way you want to. And whatever is ‘style over fashion’? Are you saying fashion is not stylish? I think Mr Dolce/Gabbana or Ms Westwood or Iris Apfel might have something to say about that.
And to the claim that “grey hair will alter my entire palette and I may need to review my makeup and predominantly black and navy wardrobe”, I say a hearty B*LL*CKS! Not least of all because I can’t afford to completely refurbish my entire wardrobe because I ditched the dye, everything I own still looks remarkably……… well, OK.
But seriously, what doesn’t grey go with?
No-one has recoiled in horror or fallen about laughing, so I’m going to guess no-one really gives a shit. And if they did, I wouldn’t care that they cared. Now that really is one of the great beauties of getting older. And again, nothing else has changed – skin tone, eye colour, weight, height. Just. Your. Hair. Colour. Keep taking care of your hair as you always have, and styling it and having regular cuts and conditioning treatments and nothing earth-shattering needs to transpire.
The author of the piece in the Guardian is a mere seven years older than me, but her piece is like listening to my mum. All power to your elbow Alyson, you’ve a book on the subject, Style Forever: the grown-up guide to looking fabulous, and a hugely successful blog but I feel very strongly that what you’re saying is more suited to someone of seventy-one not fifty-one and for that reason, I’m out.