By NICKY CHAMP
Alright, I’ve got something I want you to do for me. For the purposes of this post, I need you to name as many female grey-haired celebrities as you can: GO. No, that’s okay. I’ll wait…. Waiting…
How’d you go?
I’m going to take a wild stab in the dark and guess that the number you came up with was in the single digits. And there is a reason for this. Grey-haired women in Hollywood are virtually non-existent. For all my (some might say wasted) pop culture knowledge, I could only name two silver vixens: Helen Mirren and Dame Judi Dench.
Looking around at my social circle – relatives, friends, neighbours, and colleagues – I don’t have a single grey-haired role model in my life. Occasionally I’ll spy a bit of grey regrowth in my mother’s hair when she’s been too busy to get to the hairdressers; the same goes for her mother, my 82-year-old Nan. As for everyone else I’m guessing they have grey hair in some form or other but I’ve never seen it.
Considering grey hair can appear as early as your twenties and many women choose to extend the life of their original hair colour, it’s a fairly large chunk of a woman’s life that is spent in the hairdresser’s chair.
Whether it’s vanity that drives us to hide the ashy white we associate with old age or just a personal preference, there is a perception in society that embracing a full silver scalp implies you have either let yourself go or you own eleven cats and dabble in witchcraft.
Setting out to dispel this tired stereotype is a group of New York women led by 60-year-old model (and accidental poster child for grey hair) Cindy Joseph, who organised a march through Times Square called the “Silver Sisters Strut” as a means of celebrating not just grey hair but – gasp – long, flowing grey hair. Of the demonstration she said, “We are the women that we wished we would have had in our lives… if they weren’t busy getting their hair dyed.”
That’s a sentiment echoed by radio presenter Yumi Stynes, we spoke to her last year about going grey, hair dye and her silver-haired style icons.
When did you first notice your grey hair?
I found my first white hair when I was six years old! And ever since then they’ve been accumulating. It didn’t worry me then, it doesn’t worry me now.
“I dyed my hair twice in my life. Once, in 1995 I dyed it blue. This involved bleaching it white first, which took FIVE HOURS IN THE SALON. I was so bored and the whole experience was expensive and vain and dull.
The only other time I dyed my hair was when I was getting ready for the ARIA Awards – I used to cover the red carpet every year for Channel V. The day before the ceremony my boyfriend gave me a haircut that was SO SHIT that I thought dyeing it might distract everyone from the fact that I looked like a chubby 12-year-old boy! Fail!
So…I don’t dye my hair because it’s boring. And I quite like it the way it is. But if it ever gets to the point where I don’t like how it looks, I will happily dye it. It’s not a political point I’m dogmatic about.”
Any advice for people noticing their first few greys?
Do whatever you like! The one thing I’ve realized again and again as I get older is that it never pays to worry about what other people think of you. Laugh, eat, smile, love. I’d love to be a ridiculous old lady with wildly colored hair and lots of cats wearing beads and tie-died frocks.
As someone who also abhors the amount of time the hair colouring process takes, I hope to embrace silver and strut my salt and pepper when the time comes. Hopefully by then it won’t be considered subversive or brave.
Take a look through our gallery of our favourite silver-haired celebs (the vast bulk of whom are men):
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If you do decide to embrace grey hair and down the hair dye, why does it have to be a statement about ageing gracefully and not just a natural process?