Recently I did a column on the importance of having a specific hairstyle at midlife, especially if you have gray hair.
I used as an illustration the lovely and gracious Lee Meriwether whose commentary in an AARP article we used for quotes to illustrate this year's Miss America pageant. After all, the 77-year-old Lee Meriwether is a pageant vet, having been crowned Miss America in 1955, then going on to have an illustrious career in television.
In the illustration above: Lee seemed to have let her hair go all gray sometime after the fall of 2003, when she was about 67. The images of her with brown hair are just prior to that, and the center image (top) with short, sassy salt-n-pepper hair I believe is a wig.
Why did I make this collage? Well, a very long and impassioned comment on the original article, from a self-described "hairdresser to the stars for 30 years" demanded Lee Meriwether go back to the bottle. I wondered if you would agree, so you'd need some images for comparison. I have included the comment here (although I admit to a little editing and punctuating. If you want to see the comment in its entirety, you need to go to the original article: Short Gray Haircuts — Style Makes a Big Difference)
Lee Meriwether needs to get the bottle of hair dye out of her closet and go back to 'natural as a baby hair'....her skin is excellent and her energy, too.
Having been a Hair dresser to the stars for the last 30 years, in my opinion, there is Nothing more aging on a woman than Dull Gray hair no matter what you do to it! Lee's hair is drab and sallow with bangs or brushed back....gray is gray.
The Silver Ladies will probably skin me for that but to my eye I say NOOOOO! Look at Jamie Lee Curtis! [I should have her in the collage!] If she colored her hair, she would look years younger considering her figure and style. And isn't' that the point, Ladies? To keep our youthful appearance?
Gray Hair screams, there is no copper left in my body. Old age! I don't care if the hair is down to her waist and she is wearing a bikini. Even the ancient Egyptians knew this and began using roots and berries and beets and all things color, making 'Henna' to cover up the gray.
I have to interrupt here because: 1. I didn't know that about copper and have upped my copper intake! And 2. Anyone who mentions the history of beauty goes up in my estimation by a mile. But back to what he/she has to say:
Not to mention how coarse gray hair can be, no matter what oil treatments you use, or glossy shine you throw on!
Coloring the Hair makes it much more manageable. The world is full of aging baby boomers right now, all trying to survive in an ever growing population and lagging job opportunities. Not many have a great retirement plan.
America is not China, where the old are revered as wise and welcome. Here, once you hit 60, fahgettaboudit. There are many of us still working, who need to compete in this world. Who would an employer hire? A gray head of hair or a Blonde?
Girls get out that bottle of 'Nice and Easy' and spend 30 minutes on yourself once a month to color your roots.! Unless you are playing Mrs Santa Clause, I say .... Color your hair!!!"
Well, there's no doubt about where he/she stands, is there? But hey, I admire impassioned opinions, especially when they are informed, as this one seems to be.
Diana Lewis Jewell, the de facto head of the Silver Sister's movement, after wrIting Going Gray Looking Great, is equally impassioned, though. believing women should embrace who they really are, and letting themselves be liberated from the bottle if they want to be. So, in the spirit of equal time, I asked her to respond:
To the "Hairdresser to the Stars" — there is one thing I agree with. Dull gray hair is unattractive. It has to have shine, life, and vibrancy.
When it does, it sparkles like diamonds. But the rest of this diatribe is just plain silly. No other word for it. Not all gray hair is coarse, many have found it to be softer and silkier than dye-coated hair.
In fact, dye tends to dry hair, as most harsh chemicals do. As far as who an employer would hire? One has only to look at Linda Fargo of Bergdorf Goodman [I did include a picture of her, far right.] to realize that women with lustrous silver locks are being offered executive positions.
Your pro-dye arguments are simply outdated and reinforce the myth that women must color in order to be sexy, attractive, and suitable for employment. The big news is — they don't."
So, who's right? Maybe they're both right. What do you think?
More on grey hair: