Columnist Nicki Anderson plans to let her gray hair shine through
By Nicki Anderson For The Sun December 3, 2012 4:36PM
Updated: January 21, 2013 11:19AM
I don’t know about you, but when the holiday season rolls around, I tend to get introspective and melancholy. The focus is usually on my kids, family, friends — it happens every year. But this year, something a little more unusual happened, I started getting introspective about me — more specifically, my hair. What’s hair got to do with health? Well, I’m trying to figure that out.
I’ve been coloring my hair for about 10 years. I’m not really sure what prompted the color choice, but I’ll go with vanity. According to Hair Boutique, more than 79 percent of women color their hair in some form, and 69 percent say they feel more attractive once they get their hair colored. So, I wanted to get to the root of the issue: Is gray hair a bad thing?
I’m sure most women would agree that, when men start turning gray, it’s distinguished. When women start turning gray, it’s more like, “Oh my, she’s letting herself go.”
Graying hair on women seems to send a message of sorts, whether it’s “I give up” or “Who cares?” Either way, there doesn’t seem to be a positive perception. I discovered this when I announced I was going to experiment by letting my hair go gray.
I have decided that for the next year, I’m going to stop coloring my hair. I’m going to let the natural color, whatever and however much gray that might be, shine through. Responses to my decision on my Facebook page have been everything from, “Go for it,” from my kids, to “Why in the world would you want to do that?” from my peers. Even some men have piped in saying, “It depends what it looks like.” Leave it to men to play it safe.
According to Global System Analysts, the U.S. market for anti-aging products will hit $114 billion by 2015. So clearly, youth is king. And well, clearly gray hair doesn’t scream youth. But, I think we know people who wear gray beautifully, and others, well, they feel not necessarily younger but more attractive when they color their hair. So it’s not about right or wrong, more perception.
So what does this have to do with health? Well, I can’t help but think there might be a shift in how I feel — maybe not, I don’t know. I wonder if there will be some kind of psychological shift that might make me feel older? I wonder if my fitness routine will shift — I’m guessing not. What I’m wondering, is there a psychological effect to changing the color of your hair? When we color our hair to avoid gray, hands down women feel younger and more attractive. So, would it be true that gray hair will make me feel older and less attractive? Thus the possibility of a physical shift. Again, this is purely speculation and why I want to give this a go.
According to Dr. Vivian Diller, psychologist, “When it comes to gray, men want to seem hip enough to land good work. Whereas women worry it will add years to their faces, possibly even send the message they are letting themselves go. In truth, there aren’t many female role models for this movement. Not one of the 15 women listed among the Fortune 500 female CEOs had gray hair last year, and only five of the 93 women in Congress show their gray.”
Hmm, so the question becomes, why would I want to look older? Well, if I’m healthy, energetic and fully engaged in life, who cares what color my hair is? Of course, that’s what I’m saying now. But I know a few women who have opted for gray and not only do they wear it well, they’re happy, energetic and attractive.
What do you think when you see someone with gray hair, more specifically women? Do you give it a second thought, or do you automatically think, senior citizen?
So, this will be a yearlong experiment. I invite you to follow my blog, Gray Expectations at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you or someone you know has chosen gray over color, I’d like to hear from them. Psychologists, I’d love to hear from you. I’d also love to hear from those who go against the stereotype, and remain gray and are active, healthy, happy and sassy!
Again, I have no idea what to expect, but one of my main missions is to find out how my mind and body respond to this external change. Do I have some trepidation? You bet, but what fun is life if you don’t explore the unknown. At the end of the year, I’d like to think I’ll discover that age is more about how we feel and what we project, versus what others think. But, that’s the whole point of my journey!
Do you have an inspiring story about your journey to fitness? Share it with Nicki Anderson at email@example.com.