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Ann Cannon: Gray hair, don't care!

Published September 16, 2014 10:55 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.


I want to make one thing perfectly clear. I think a woman should be able to do whatever she wants to do with her hair. My friend Shelley recently dyed her hair blue and you know what? It was awesome. The color blue never looked so good. In fact, the color blue should write Shelley a thank-you note for making it a rock star in the World of Hair.

I tell you this because I don't want anybody to think I am being all judgy-judgy of my fellow females when I say that in my family, the women do not go gray. It simply isn't done. My grandmother was a vivid redhead who stayed a vivid redhead until the day she died at age 87. In fact, the last words she uttered in this life were, "I need a tint tomorrow." Her daughter, my mother, has not gone gentle into that gray night either. She's still a honey blonde who looks years younger than her actual age.

As for me, I've been changing the color of my hair since I was 12 in the hopes that finding the right shade and style would somehow magically make me smarter, prettier and thinner. Mostly thinner. Besides, spraying Sun-In onto your scalp when you're at a slumber party in the seventh grade is just all kinds of fun!

And then something happened.

I recently glanced in the mirror and realized that my hair was beginning to look a little silvery. Not only that, but I sort of liked it. Surprise!

My mother hasn't asked me about my hair yet, in spite of the fact that I'm currently breaking with family tradition. Meanwhile, I've been asking some questions of my own. Why do some women choose to go gray while others don't?

I suspect my grandmother dyed her hair because not dyeing her hair would be the equivalent of not making her bed or mowing her lawn or washing her dishes or hanging up her clothes or rotating the tires on her car. Not dyeing her hair would be the moral equivalent of throwing in the towel and shouting, "I give up! You win, Entropy!"

I haven't asked her, but I imagine my mother dyes her hair because she makes a fine-looking blonde, and if you've got something like that going on, why mess around with it? For the record, I fully endorse this approach.

Other reasons women refuse to go gray? Fear of aging, perhaps. Or the legitimate fear of being sidelined in a society that often turns its older citizens invisible. Or maybe that face in the mirror doesn't line up with the person a woman still feels like she is on the inside — that brand new mother or the 22-year-old college graduate ready to take on the world.

What about the women who say gray hair, don't care? It may be a political statement for some — a refusal to go along with the expectations generated by our youth-obsessed culture. Certainly there are other reasons, as well. I'm interested in hearing what they are.

As for me? Well, the truth is that I've become a little lazy on the hair-care front. Sorry about that, Grandma!

Here's the other thing. My body is like an older, slightly shabby house with walls full of memories. It's been lived in and for now, at least, I think gray hair suits who I've become.

But you never know. Maybe tomorrow I'll wake up and dye my hair.







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