LAUGHLINES: Color Me Beautiful, but Gray

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Last night, Matt asked me about my next hair appointment. I thought he was going to complain (again) about the cost of my highlighting, but no – he instructed me to get the gray out.

Ouch. I have blonde highlights to camouflage the gray hair, but apparently it isn’t working. We had just had dinner with my twin and her husband, and she had just colored her hair (which is, of course, a genetic match to mine). It’s now what she calls auburn, but what I might call Tang. It’s a little too orange for my taste, and so there I sat, feeling a little superior as I tossed what I thought were my youthful looking blondish locks.

Don’t we all think women getting gray is tragic, while men going gray improves their looks? Old versus distinguished, haggard versus dashing. Matt has a gorgeous headful of white hair, after going gray in his 20s. Man, he looks great, sort of like Richard Gere with muscles and height. George Clooney, Ben Stiller and Harrison Ford all look better gray. Think about how much better Robert Redford would look without the Tang hair, and Tom Hanks needs to lose the Grecian formula and get some gray in that black bush of his.

Going gray for women is a little more complicated. I can’t think of a female celebrity who’s just let it rip, can you? As for my family and friends, no one’s had the nerve to let their color “grow out.” Even my soon-to-be 80-year old mother is coloring her hair – what’s left of it.

So if I skip the highlighting and go to the next step — what color is that? My own hair is a medium brown. I can’t go darker, or I’ll look like Elizabeth Taylor right before she died: wrinkled face, bright red lipstick bleeding into her mouth wrinkles, and a ridiculous mop of black hair. Can’t go platinum blonde – again, La Liz went blonde after her brain surgery, claiming it just grew back that color (I remember a critic saying at the time that only in Hollywood would you consider platinum blonde a “natural” color…).

Given Matt’s request, I suspect my next hair appointment will be an experiment in terror, but perhaps I’ve entered a new phase. I’ve even found a book called Color Me Gray that claims: “Women all over the world are embracing beautiful, lustrous shades of silver, white, pewter and charcoal for their hair.”

Hmm. Notice even these millions of women embracing gray don’t call it gray? Guess they’re older and wiser…

About Cate Drew

I’m on the high side of 40, with three dogs, two teens and one husband, living in a small New England town in a house that’s never quiet. Ever. It’s not that I have a really colorful life – I just tend to write colorfully about it. And there’s plenty of material: marriage to the Man of a Thousand Bad Ideas,.. my mom, who moved Dad’s coffin closer to the street six months after he died so she could visit his grave as a kind of drive-up window…our dog posse…our kids…lots of siblings and in-laws, former co-workers, old boyfriends -- they’re all here. Toss in 14 years of Catholic school and you’ve got a lot of guilt, too. Which reminds me: forget “high side of 40.” I’m 51, damnit.

  • Nancyeroman

    Yes, definitely get rid of the gray.  But don’t go tang.  Southern Fried Chicken can be a flattering color.