No grey area - colouring your hair is do or dye for women
Published 04/08/2015 | 02:30
Hair is not just something that happens to be on your head. Hair, particularly women's hair, is a subject that never ceases to interest, obsess and divide people. Regardless of whether you are a Hollywood actress, president of a country, a housewife, or a CEO, if you are a woman, people will comment on your hair.
Women spend hundreds (sometimes thousands) of euros a year dying their hair. Is it worth it? Should we just let our hair go grey and accept nature's choice for us?
But hair colour is one of the first things you notice about someone. So if your hair is grey, the assumption will be that you are old.
When former US First Lady and current presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, right, went back to her alma mater, Yale, to give a speech to the graduating students, she began by talking about hair. Yes, hair.
Imparting words of wisdom to the graduating law students, she told them, "The most important thing I have to say to you today is that hair matters. Your hair will send significant messages to those around you: what hopes and dreams you have for the world, but more, what hopes and dreams you have for your hair. Pay attention to your hair, because everyone else will."
And how right she was. Only last week, column inches were taken up with the news that Clinton and her entourage closed off part of the Manhattan department store Bergdorf Goodman so she could discreetly attend an appointment at the hair salon.
Now, more than ever, image is a crucial part of a political campaign, and Clinton, who is 67 years old, knows that she has to invest heavily in her hair. Signs of grey hair and ageing are a no-no. She needs to look as youthful as she can. God forbid she should actually look her age.
While politicians like Joe Biden and actors like George Clooney are referred to as silver foxes, no high-profile women are called foxy because of their grey locks.
All women will attest to the huge lift in self-esteem a 'good hair day' gives them. The 'hair business' is all too aware of that and exploits it mercilessly. Figures suggest that the global hair care market will be worth $83.1bn in 2016. That's a lot of money for good hair days.
But hair has always been a concern. Apparently in ancient Egypt women covered their grey hairs with a dye made of oil and the blood of a black cat. I am now looking at my own black cat in a whole new light.
Romans favoured a blond colour and used many combinations including mixing ashes, boiled walnut shells and earthworms.
As author Nora Ephron said, "Hair dye has changed everything, but it almost never gets the credit. It's the most powerful weapon older women have against the youth culture. I can make a case that it's at least partly responsible for the number of women entering (and managing to stay in) the job market in middle and late-middle age."
The problem is that a man with a full head of grey hair looks distinguished and wise, whereas a women with a head of grey hair, more often than not is viewed by society as old and past her sell-by date.
Of course there are exceptions. When talking of successful women in senior roles with grey hair, people always trot out Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, chic Frenchwoman Christine Lagarde. She is extremely stylish but she is one of the few women who carry it off.
Remember former First Lady Barbara Bush who everyone said looked like George Bush Snr's mother, not his wife. She was put under huge pressure and suffered many cruel comments about her grey hair but stood firm.
She explained that she used to dye her hair but got fed up spending hours in salons and decided to leave it grey. "People who worry about their hair all the time, frankly, are boring,'' she said.
But not all women are as confident as Barbara Bush and many feel pressure to dye their hair in order to improve their perception in the workplace and extend their careers.
There are some wonderful examples of women with grey hair who look fantastic - Helen Mirren, Judy Dench, and who can forget Meryl Streep in the film, 'The Devil Wears Prada'; she looked sensational with her hair dyed grey.
We live in a society that glorifies youth. Let's be honest, for the majority of women, dying their hair makes them feel and- in most cases - look better. Thankfully we now have the choice whether to let our hair go grey or to dye it … and if you're short of cash there is always the black cat option.