Irish author Mia Gallagher on greying gracefully: 'At the moment, going grey is almost like a crime for women'
Dublin author Mia Gallagher (47), whose work features in upcoming anthology, Young Irelanders, on greying gracefully...
"I was 11 when I discovered my first grey hair. Growing up, my mum had striking silver hair, so it was quite easy for me follow suit. I didn't think there was anything weird about it. As my hair was originally light brown, it wasn't a big dramatic thing: it just went an even lighter brown, then blonde and eventually grey.
My identity as being grey-haired was set quite early on. If I had started going grey in my 30s, I think that would have been much more difficult. Sometimes people stop me on the street to say, 'It's really inspired me'. But I can understand why other women my age choose to dye their hair too.
Women are valued in society primarily according to their looks. Hair colour is totally bound up with how women see themselves, and how they're seen by others. Traditionally, if you're going grey, you're seen as getting older, and therefore, not as useful to a society that values women according to their ability to bear children. Like Princess Diana before her, Kate Middleton is judged on her appearance daily.
Just because I've embraced my grey hair, it doesn't mean that I'm completely immune to those pressures either. Like any woman, I wear skinny jeans and makeup, and love being complimented on my appearance.
As I get older though, I'm becoming increasingly aware of how restrictive it is to feel good about myself solely based on what I look like. Having grey hair used to be a sign of experience. At the moment, going grey is almost like a crime for women. Every one of us is going to age and die.
As a culture, I don't think we've ever been so unprepared for it. For women in their 30s, my advice is to embrace going grey if you can because it only gets easier."