Grey Area…. by Juliet Ashton
For years I hid a shameful secret.
Now, it’s out in the open. My closest friends know all about it. In fact, even strangers I pass in the street are on to me.
I have grey hair.
It’s my parents’ fault. They had that kind of wild, black Irish hair you see in the Aer Lingus queue at airports. Thick, wavy, wonderful, the hair comes with a catch – the Irish go grey early. At twenty five I was spotting silvery strands. By the age of thirty I was doing a monthly touch-up over the bathtub, swearing gently as the dye transferred itself to every towel in the house.
Back then I swore never to let it win. Grey equalled old. Dowdy. Past it.
Today grey equals liberty. Confidence. A two fingers to the patriarchy that allows men to age into silver foxes, but insists that women must remain a vague thirty five for ever.
It was tough growing it out. As my white roots grew and grew, my look went through various stages, none of them good. I started out with Oops! Forgot To Dye!, progressed through Gypsy Selling Heather and Down And Out, to finally reach where I am today – Grey And Proud.
I wish I’d unleashed my natural colour (or lack of it) when I was younger. That, I now feel, would have been cool. Perhaps I’m swayed by the fact that grey hair is now a trend. How my Nana would laugh if she knew twenty first century teenagers were dying their hair the same mauvey-silver as her rigid little curls.
It feels honest to have grey hair. Dying my hair had begun to feel like misrepresentation. One of my friends said “Don’t expect me to come out with you!” when I announced my plans to free myself from the bondage of L’Oreal. Most were positive, however.
Crucially, my husband thought it sounded like fun. Possibly this is because he never notices what I look like (I could go out with my dress tucked firmly into my knickers and he’d say nowt). I prefer to believe that he married me for me, not the colour of my hair.
To anybody thinking of taking the plunge, I say a loud, bossy, Do It! I have wobbly mornings when I look in the mirror and see an old bag looking back, but hey, that’s why God gave us Bobbi Brown. Mostly I just see me, with my flaws and my virtues.
One last thing – I can’t wear beige any more. It looks awful with my new hair. So it’s just as well I hate bloody beige, isn’t it?