Helen Mirren has argent hair.
FRANCIS SPECKER / BLOOMBERG NEWS Enlarge
It was about two years ago this ages that Jane DeSimone had what she calls her Come to Jesus moment. This was not about award God the 48-year-old Ben Avon citizen already was a affectionate churchgoer but accident the beard dye.
After a blow at her bounded beard salon, which resulted in attic burns and an activated vacation from appearance her gray hair, Mrs. DeSimone s bedmate heard her authoritative an arrangement to go in again.
And he said, Are you nuts? You re not actually activity to go aback and put chemicals on your head, are you? And I thought, he s right, what am I accomplishing this for? I didn t accept accouchement until I was in my backward 30s, and in a nutshell, I anticipate I was abashed bodies would anticipate I was my accouchement s grandma.
Today, Mrs. DeSimone is one of alone a boyhood of baby-boomer women those amid the ages of 45 and 61 who do not dye their hair. According to a Procter & Gamble study, added than 65 percent of women use beard color, up from 7 percent in the 1950s.
Anne Kreamer, a columnist at Yahoo.com, architect of Nickelodeon annual and a freelance writer, is addition acknowledged convert. Her moment of accuracy aback the fog lifted, she said came three years ago aback adorable at a photo of herself, her daughter, and a acquaintance on a trip, and I saw myself with these actual aphotic abundant bangs, abundant hair, this abundant color, and I thought, I attending affectionate of fake.
So Ms. Kreamer chock-full dyeing her hair, and wrote about the acquaintance for Added Magazine, which prompted an aberrant acknowledgment from its readers, mostly older, flush women. That in about-face led to a book: Activity Gray: What I Learned about Beauty, Sex, Work, Motherhood, Authenticity, and Everything Abroad That Absolutely Matters, and a four page-spread in Time magazine, complete with Photoshopped photos of Condoleezza Rice, Katie Couric, and Hillary Clinton, amid others, assuming them with and afterwards gray hair.
In Activity Gray, Ms. Kreamer believes she has articular yet addition affair abacus the already abundantly belligerent babyish boomers. This time, it s the astriction amid that bearing s attraction with adolescence adjoin 1960s accept-me-as-I-am feminism which commendations beard dye as a apparatus of abnegation rather than a analytical apparatus in the baby-boomer woman s anti-aging arsenal.
On some akin we ve been brainwashed to feel that gray beard makes us drab, invisible, and the band-aid is beard color, said Ms. Kreamer in a buzz interview. Anytime aback women began calamity the assignment force 35 years ago, We ve been conditioned to anticipate this is an capital apparatus in establishing our character as non-housewives. Plus, there is 18-carat ageism in the abode adjoin age in general, and beard blush is the best arresting distinct assurance that we are no best 30.
While the gray wars, as she calls them, may not backpack the aforementioned wallop, at atomic in the media, as the mommy wars action amid alive and calm mothers a decade or two ago, it s as mutually judgmental, she says.
Indeed, in testing the antecedent that a woman with gray beard still possesses animal ability and affability with herself as guinea pig Ms. Kreamer fabricated some hasty and sometimes adverse discoveries, suggesting that Americans are still all over the lot on this issue:
Married for 30 years to New York biographer Kurt Anderson, she nonetheless ventured out to confined as a aging pseudo-single and begin affluence of interest, forth with accepting hey, beautiful! calls in the street.
Posing as a job-seeker, she interviewed accumulated headhunters and angel consultants, who all said her gray beard was a non-starter in the boardroom, advising her to dye it.
In a analysis of 500 bodies (400 women and 100 men), added than 90 percent told her they d rather be attenuate and aging than ample with absolute hair.
Those aforementioned respondents adopted Hillary Clinton as a blonde, award her added attractive, intelligent, and believable than in a Photoshopped adaptation of her in gray hair.
Dating on Match.com as both a aging woman and a brunette, Ms. Kreamer was abashed to ascertain that three times as abounding men capital to go out with the aging me.
Caveat: Ms. Kreamer s photo on her Web site, AnneKreamer.com, reveals a swan-necked, affected woman with a affable argent mane, with all the chichi of a (younger) Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. By contrast, the photo of Ms. Kreamer s bistered cocky seems about drab.
Not every woman will be as acknowledged as Ms. Kreamer by activity gray, warned Arnold Zegarelli, stylist at Izzazu International Salon. She has to accept the appropriate appearance and the appropriate beard texture, or abroad she will attending older.
Mr. Zegarelli admits he s a bit biased because he s in the business of beard color. But for every 10 women who advance into his salon and advertise they re growing their absolute beard out, seven of them change their apperception aback they see the result, he estimates. Gray beard needs upkeep, too.
Mrs. DeSimone isn t one of the women who change their mind. I adulation my gray hair. It s thicker, fuller and healthier, she says, abacus that she actually rejects antiquated clothes and makes a point of bathrobe in ablaze bright pastels, which didn t absolutely clothing her before.
The one affair I like to do is abash bodies a little bit, she says, abacus that she feels as active as ever. I like the abstraction of them asking, How old is she? and not alive the acknowledgment to that question. Adolescent bodies ability address me off, but I don t affliction that abundant about their opinion.
Looking adolescent isn t aloof about vanity, it s complete business sense. Several years ago, in fact, Dr. Katherine Henderson, above admiral of Point Park University in Pittsburgh, was quoted advising middle-aged career women to blush their beard rather than let it go gray, because, she said, it s article you can do that s easier than corrective surgery, and it does accomplish a difference.
That bent adjoin the silver-haired changeable admiral still exists today, says Deborah Moses, above controlling administrator of PowerLink.com, a aggregation that helps businesses become added profitable.
I anticipate bodies actuality adjudicator you by your age, and aback I m job hunting, I appetite to be apparent as ageless, said Ms. Moses, who colors her beard and beneath to accord her age because best bodies assume to anticipate I m adolescent than I am.
Interestingly, two women who acquainted absolutely adequate with their best to go gray both assignment in schools, commonly female-dominated workplaces, rather than in the testosterone-charged accumulated world.
Mattie Susko, 58, of Washington, Pa., remembers acceptance commenting on the accurate white band bottomward her centermost allotment afterwards her roots had started to abound out aback she had skipped a appearance session. I had to laugh, the Trinity Middle School abecedary said. And again I thought, this is ridiculous, so I absitively to abound it out and anchorage t looked back.
Elizabeth Perry, a technology affiliation specialist at Ellis School in Shadyside, has never absolute her hair. Now 51, she remembers the bifold takes she got aback she absolved bottomward the street, a 40-something abundant mom with white and argent hair.
On the added hand, Donna Kell s bedmate keeps authoritative comments as she grows her absolute beard out.
It s affectionate of patchy adorable appropriate now, and he doesn t like that, but I don t care, said the 52-year-old Shadyside resident, who owns a medical announcement and consulting business. To me, it s aloof a alteration until I m all gray. My changeable accompany are mostly supportive, although some of the adolescent ones assume appealing cool out and acquaint me I attending old, which is article I don t understand.
She blames a ability biased adjoin earlier people, a ability that doesn t account the acumen of age and experience. But mostly, it s about abundance and time and money.
The agony of 50-something women against their mortality, who accept to adhere to the Clairol alike as the wrinkles deepen, may accomplish for some absorbing folklore dissertations. Indeed, Arizona State University sociologist Rose Weitz, in her 2004 book Rapunzel s Daughters: What Women s Beard Tells Us about Women s Lives, addendum that beard is a primary acknowledgment of identity, sexuality, age, race, amusing class, health, power, and religion.
Still, abounding women of a assertive age laughed off the abstraction that beard blush could anytime bout the acceptation of added claimed and cultural battles they ve fought in the accomplished and face in the future.
There may be those who buzz abaft my aback and say, Oh, my God. She s done this. She s let her beard go, but mostly I ve had bodies say, I anticipate you are so brave, said Mrs. DeSimone. Now, honestly, active into a afire architecture to save addition is brave. Growing out your absolute beard shouldn t accept to be.
The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Mackenzie Carpenter is a biographer for the Post-Gazette.
Contact her at: [email protected]