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Is grey the new blonde for mature women?

Updated on September 22, 2013

Being congruent ...

I observe people, it's a hobby of mine. Many of the people I observe are my peers. You know, older women. I do this because, like women of all ages, I am comparing myself with them. I am looking to see if there is any idea, any look I can use myself. I suppose you could call it stealing style.

But there is one style that really doesn't appeal, that thing some of us do to persuade others that we are still young. Oh, I don't mean the very rich who can have face lifts and every artifice known to plastic surgery to stay looking young. No, what I mean is the woman you see, or rather your old man sees, from the back and you can see he's expecting to see a sexy young thing but you intuit that maybe all is not what it seems.

She's slim, has long blonde hair and dresses in the latest fashion, sickeningly with the most divine and expensive-looking boots. You see, you're jealous already. You're waiting for her to turn around and when she does you get a shock as you take in the full effect of the wrinkles under the thick foundation, the heavy-duty eye make-up overlaying the crow's feet and the lipstick bleeding into the lines around the mouth.

You register the disappointment on your husband's face with mild satisfaction and think it serves him right. One thing you don't expect to feel however is your own disappointment.

Me ... all freckles and unruly grey hair ... it doesn't do ruly.
Me ... all freckles and unruly grey hair ... it doesn't do ruly. | Source
Nice hair cut ... full marks for trying!
Nice hair cut ... full marks for trying! | Source
This is an older woman ... honestly.
This is an older woman ... honestly. | Source
Grey-haired and obviously happy in her skin ... bravo!
Grey-haired and obviously happy in her skin ... bravo! | Source
Class is not necessarily only the province of the young.
Class is not necessarily only the province of the young. | Source

Letting the side down.

And I have to admit that I do feel disappointed when this happens. As far as I'm concerned here's another woman letting the side down by trying to appear younger than she is, an ostrich woman, head firmly in the sand, desperately trying to hang onto a disappeared time.

She just isn't congruent and I always wonder what she is trying to prove, why she is trying to prove it ... and who she is trying to prove it to.

It's not feminism ...

It's not feminism that makes me feel let down by the women who struggle to keep people guessing about their age, it's more a case of my own bloodymindedness. Why should we feel obliged to do it? We really need to examine our motives here ... honestly ... and I'm guessing we don't really do it so much for other women; we're most likely doing it for men.

Paradoxically, men who let their hair go grey tend to look sensational, think Matt Le Blanc in his new incarnation or George Clooney. Whereas a man with dyed hair looks ... obvious ... and vain. I don't know about you but I find vanity in a man so off-putting. I mean a man may well be vain, but as long as I don't know he is I will continue to like and admire him. Contrary, huh?

Why I don't and won't colour my hair.

I allowed the grey in my hair to take over when I was 52. My hairdresser had been kindly calling it 'Nature's blonde' for some time, bless him. It may have arrived somewhat early but I had been fighting a losing battle with white roots for some time. My hair grows very quickly and I would have a grey parting a couple of days after colouring, so it may appear that it was forced on me. Not so.

I could have done what other women do and bleached it lighter or had pale streaks put in but I just couldn't face going field-mouse colour. It just seemed so predictable, so boring, it was what most women did.

So I opted to go grey and have a tousled, surfer-granny look though admittedly the unkempt look was rather forced on me as my hair is as bloody-minded as I am and I'm damned if I'm going to spend half my life wrestling with the stuff. Even so it hasn't been such a bad trip.

Not everyone understands my stand!

When I was widowed and had been living on my grey-haired own for a year, one of my oldest friends mentioned that she thought it was now time that I started dating again. I was only 55 and she thought I needed a new love interest in my life. She suggested in her true, blunt, Yorkshire woman way that I should start by colouring my hair and getting rid of 'that grey'.

I didn't dare tell her that I had been fighting romantic prospects off with a stick for the last year. I had simply lost a bit of weight and bought some biker boots and that had been enough for men who didn't know my story to make passes at me. One of them was in fact becoming a bit of a nuisance, probably liking my 'I'm not trying' attitude. But really, no, I wasn't trying.

The last word ...

The other day I was having coffee in the garden centre cafe with my present beloved (you know you are getting old when you start frequenting garden centres) and listening to him with one ear (multi-tasking as usual) whilst discreetly watching four mature women friends also having coffee.

Two of the women had short, badly dyed, badly crimped hair that made them look really old though I suspect they were only my age, which I refuse to consider as old. One of them had that expensively mouse-coloured and elaborately teased hair, a testament to her hairdresser's art. She was also expensively dressed but she too looked old and predictable.

The final woman was, I assessed, the oldest of them all, but she didn't seem it. Her hair fell in a well cut, classic, silky, grey bob. Her clothes were stylish, youthful even, but not inappropriately so; a sort of long cardigan coat in a subtle colour worn over jeans and boots.

Admittedly she was not overweight which certainly helps the way clothes hang and, despite the lines on her face, her expression was fun-filled and vitally alive. She had such immense style that it made her instantly eye-catching. And the beauty of it was, she seemed totally unaware of how good she looked.

There is an old truth that most women become invisible to men from middle-age onwards; ordinary, everyday women like me that is, (I don't include Cher or Oprah in this generalisation of course) but this lady proved to me that it was possible to grow old both stylishly and congruently and I felt immensely heartened by her.

The last word ...

Ageing is a subject that exercises my mind a lot … obviously because I am ageing. Also it is because I feel we are needlessly exhorted to be something other than what we are … and that I find intensely annoying.

So to continue the discussion see this post on my blog ‘Sleeping with the cat ...'


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