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  • Leslie M. Faerstein

TO DYE OR NOT TO DYE?


This is a question that comes up regularly — both before and during Covid-19. Covid somehow makes the question more compelling since we’re staring at ourselves on Zoom etc. all the time and, of course, listening to our inner critic on how we look overall.

I let my hair go gray several years ago when I went to my stylist for my appointment to color and highlight my hair — I was 65. I was always blonde but when the gray first showed up when I was around 45, I was horrified. George said to me that it looked like my gray was coming in silvery or ash blonde and why don’t we forego the color and see what happens. I’ve never gone back. I love the color and natural highlights of my gray hair and I love the fortune I save each time I don’t have it colored.

For an article, I was once asked by a reporter, if the gray hair affected my chances of getting hired. My response was “my résumé is my gray hair” — they never even saw me before deciding I was probably too old for a job. In the same way I talk about my age (70), I also feel that my hair is a way of bucking the idea of women’s beauty and the push toward “anti-aging” and looking younger. This is who I am and how I look shouldn’t affect my agency and activism in the world. However, going gray has always been controversial and a little subversive.

During this period of the pandemic, many women seem to have decided that keeping the gray is not a bad idea. Your hair is healthier without dyes, you save money and you are showing that you accept your aging. Google “women going grey during the pandemic” and a plethora of articles show up. There are a number of influencers who have let their gray hair shine, like the “Accidental Icon” and many of Ari Seth Cohen’s Advanced Style women. Emma Beddington calls it a “greynaissance”.

I’m not advocating going natural if dying your hair makes you feel better. We have enough issues around our bodies without adding one more to it. What I am suggesting is that more and more women have decided that gray hair is irrelevant to who they are. At the end of the day, the reality is that we are all aging and we make individual decisions on our appearance. Never forget though, gray hair or not, we are all fabulous!


Let me know your thoughts on to dye or not to dye

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