Thursday, April 5, 2007

Grey Pride

I first hit the bottle about ten years ago because the grey happened so quickly and I wasn’t ready. Actually, there is no such thing as grey, there is just white. For a while you colour it aubergine and look funky with purple streaks which go pink as the colour fades, then you use the Clairol “Loving Care” non-permanent tint, persuaded by the photo of the brunette with post-coital eyes. It is a bore because you have to re-do it every other week and it makes an unholy mess of the bathroom and towels. So you graduate to Clairol “Nice ‘n Easy” which isn’t nice or particularly easy. It stinks of ammonia and bleach however much they try to mask it with fragrance. When the roots grow out you have to keep touching up so as to hide the evidence. You read about all the nasty chemicals in hairdye (particularly brown ones) that might give you cancer and Alzheimer’s but you carry on because you don’t want to look like Cruella deVille or Ann Widdecombe with the white streak down the middle, before she went blonde. You don’t want to go blonde. You remember the early days of your courtship with Mr. Signs when a friend of his described you as a sultry, Levantine beauty (you mention this once in a while just so everyone knows that this is what you really are or, at least, were). And then you think, sod it.

I’m giving it up, doing cold turkey, going on the wagon. I don’t know how I’ll look until I’ve done it and everything grows out, and it wouldn’t be true to say I don’t care about how I look. I may be grunge but I can still be sharp. I have been inspired by a couple of women who are bottle-free natural and look fabulous. One of them, a poet who leads the monthly workshop sessions I attend, recently gave a reading after which person after person came up to compliment her – not for her poetry but for her hair which is a combination of snow-white and raven-black. Understandably (being a poet with clout) she was a bit pissed off about this, but still. The other woman is the owner of an extraordinary sculpture garden and is completely white-haired and – I can’t think of any other phrase – drop-dead gorgeous and stylish. It has to be said that there wasn’t a hint of grunge about her, but sharp’s the word and I’m up for it. My “greydar” is already identifying all the women who should and could be throwing off the shackles. I might start a revolution.

12 comments:

The Moon Topples said...

RTS: I only just completed a post about dyeing my hair, and how I eventually stopped doing it as well. Mine was never about gray, though. Something internal.

Anyway, I've always held the view (paradoxical to some of my actions, I admit) that natural is the thing to be, so I applaud your decision to allow your true colors out for some air.

That's so pants said...

Snap - I'd just read Mr Topples on the subject and now yours Signs. Is it a Spring thing perhaps.

Up until about a year ago I used to wash and style my salon highlighted hair every single day. What could I have been thinking of? Since I became the kind of slob for which there is no difference between bed clothes and street clothes, I hardly even wash it now - once a week if that. Priorities change.

Reading the Signs said...

Well Mr. Moon I am getting quite practiced at making a virtue of a necessity. But applause is welcome (bows, takes curtain call).

Ms Pants it may be spring - or is this the new cool and you were just ahead all along?

goodthomas said...

I love reading you, absolutely love it. I love the train of thought, I love poetic phrases you turn and also the wonderful everyday phrases like, "I may be grunge but I can still be sharp" and I adore the long paragraphs you write, like warmth on a winters night.

Sorry, just had to say that. Okay, this post, yes, right. I applaud your decision, your stance. Grey is wonderful, wonderful. There is nothing more beautiful than a woman who has lived. I like this revolution, and I salute you, oh great Signs.

Reading the Signs said...

thanks and salutations to you dear goodthomas, would that you were a literary agent! But then you wouldn't be writing your own things, so maybe not.

Gael said...

Laugh out loud funny. Which is quite an achievement as i've been feeling a bit prickly about the subject given that youngest recently announced "Why is your head silver on top, mummy?" I've been kidding myself that highlights hide my lowlights but apparently not any longer ...
I have a friend of a certain age who has the most amazing Mallen streak. I'm really quite jealous. Maybe i should stop going to the hairdressers and go straight for the Ronseal at Homebase "Chestnut; just like it says on the tin"

Reading the Signs said...

gael, I have been on Brighton beach, silver sheen glinting in the uncompromisingly clear air and bright sun. It looked pretty damn good even if I say it myself. Because no-one else is. Yet.

(Keep me informed about the Ronseal - just in case).

Ms Baroque said...

Hmm, I seem to be going against the grain here. Neither of my parents had a grey hair till well into their fifties, but I started to go grey - just started, mind - after my third baby. A few years later, wham! Too much to pluck out. Disaster.

I started with the bottle ones - actually, even before that I was always fiddling with different colours, bleaching streaks out, going mauve, all that - but, as time went on I realised that NOTHING was working - my hair just sucks up red tones and I was beginning to have that slightly mad, home-dyed, orange look - so I started getting it done at the hairdresser. It's lovely now.

And, see, my grey isn't lovely white, or distinguished streaks - it is simply drab, faded colour, so that even if my roots just grow out a bit it leaches my face of all tone and definition, and ages me 15 years. (I'm told I exaggerate this, but I can assure you I do not.)

In short, I feel much more springlike when my hair's looking good!

Sorry to go against the zeitgeist here - and, really, I applaud your impulse. I often think of it myself, but no, it can wait at least ten years before I need to seriously investigate that one. Till then, I suppose someone has to keep those sweet hairdressers in business.

Reading the Signs said...

Ms B, I think one has to feel ready for this in one's soul (she says, already getting cold feet). Believe me, if I feel anything less than fabulous I will reconsider - except that the chemicals don't agree with me. Actually I will settle for looking ok and brush up on attitude - with a very funky haircut. At the moment I look like Neil from the Young Ones - it's a way to go, isn't it?

Ms Baroque said...

RTS, sounds like you're in with a chance here. Neil must go! (In fact, the cut may be the most important aspect. But my hair is so curly that it never looks sharp, just sort of round and potentially unkempt, which means the colour must be kempt. Curly can easily make you look a bit mad.)

You're right about the attitude. And although it is a zillion times more expensive and thus a huge luxury and not something I can recommend willy-nilly to others, I have found that the dye at the hairdressers is much less intrusive. That is, no ammonia smell and no stinging.

Anyway, this is a great experiment, and if it all goes wrong you can make like Maht and go blue!

Liz said...

I completely agree with you goodthomas, and I know you Signs, you'll be one stunning woman with white or grey or a mixture of the two. And I love your blog. I know I've said this before, but at the moment I'm catching up still on the posts I've missed while on holiday, and reading you is like eating a large portion of my favourite cake. Today I feel very satisfied, and always hungry for more.

Reading the Signs said...

ozLiz - please catch up soon - you'll see from my latest post how fickle I am!