Tuesday 1 September 2020

Job hunting is scary as a greying, middle-aged woman, but for now I’m ditching the dye

High-profile women with naturally grey hair are few – it doesn’t conform to the narrow social standards of female beauty

My quiet Covid rebellion is – as feminist fightbacks go – a rather low-key affair.

In my 20s I Reclaimed the Streets with the best of them. Bra-burning has been done, and besides, I consider mine critical weaponry in the Great Gravity War.

My iso struggle, however, is not entirely lacklustre. It has a little sparkle, a sprinkle of silver. Lockdown has delivered a visible three-inch-wide streak of grey hair, along with a less obvious but sizeable spread underneath.

What to do about it has become a mild obsession and strangely complicated.

At first I gladly threw open the door and stamped the back of Mother Nature’s hand with an access-all-areas pass. I didn’t want to spend hours in a hair salon in this health crisis and I hadn’t used box colours in years so I didn’t want to buy one now.
‘Defying the societal expectations born of years of patriarchy and sexism, I have continued grombreying, if I can manufacture a verb.’ Photograph: Gary John Norman/Getty Images/Image Source

Plus, I grew to quite like the silvery shimmer, and I was working from home and not going out.

But as restrictions eased and our lives began to resemble normality a little, my greying hair became cause for mild anxiety.

The vibrant and growing social media movement #grombre is full of women of all ages decrying fake hues. They’re embracing their grey with the Insta pics to not only prove it, but to celebrate it.

And there’s much to be said for ditching the dye. In the past five years I must have spent upwards of $6,000 for a salon colourist to saturate my scalp with ammonia and hydrogen peroxide every six or eight weeks.

But … what awaits the grey-haired woman? Is society kind to her?

I am far from ready to don the fluffy slippers and shuffle off into invisibility, and years of conditioning make me fearful that accepting the grey is a kind of giving up – on upkeep, any semblance of sexual attraction, maybe even respect in a professional setting.

Throughout our lives the clever marketers of the multibillion-dollar beauty industry have insidiously instilled in us a resistance to, if not downright revulsion of, ageing.

High-profile women with naturally grey hair are few, presumably because it doesn’t conform to the narrow social standards of female beauty.

Do we often (ever?) hear the term silver vixen?

So, just as iso ended, my role at work became redundant and the hunt for a new professional place in the world suddenly seemed scarier as a greying, middle-aged woman.

I have been dithering about what to do and while I dithered, Melbourne relapsed and iso 2.0 is upon us.

Defying the societal expectations born of years of patriarchy and sexism (and harbouring my aforementioned fear of the salon) I have continued grombreying, if I can manufacture a verb. I am Reclaiming my Hair. No angry marching needed.

But maybe ageing naturally is not a feminist act at all – the younger grey-and-proud Insta posters are certainly signs of a brave new world. Many are in their 20s and 30s and allowing their early silver strands to shine.

My fears may well be unfounded.

For now, I embrace my authentic self and wave a metaphorical flaming bra on behalf of the anti anti-ageing movement.

Admittedly, ageing gracefully (disgracefully?) with my revealed, shimmering sign of years lived is easy within the confines of lockdown. I don’t know how high my metaphorically blazing bra will be hoisted in the flagpole when socialising is a thing again – or (slow, deep breath) a potential employer calls me for an interview.
Will keep you posted.

(Source: The Guardian)

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