We often try to write about topics here that are connected with environmental living. What's interesting, and as you surely know, often our environmental choices and challenges aren't simply the result of trying to make the planet or our health better, but implicate other social movements, paradigms and even the political reality of our country (wherever that may be).
(Susan Hersh, Ford model, celebrating grey hair. Photo credit: Suzanne DeChillo NYTimes)
A really great example is the Queen Composter's recent post: "To Dye or Not to Dye" about her (and many women's) difficulty with dyeing grey hair.
It's a fantastic and honest post on a topic where double standards remain glaringly obvious. Take a second to go check it out and come back here to comment and share.
The first time I realized that despite my youthful and passionate claims of feminism and celebrating the wisdom of aging that I would find greying challenging was when I was completing a placement mid-Master's at a Montreal rehab hospital (Speech-Language Pathology dept). One of my supervisors had the most gorgeous, shiny bob... all grey. I automatically assumed she was in her late forties early fifties.
She was in her early thirties. Once I got beyond her hair, it was obvious. She was pretty and the rest of her features were late twenties, early thirties- but the grey hair aged her. At that moment I knew I would struggle with letting my hair go grey... and this was years before I became a full-fledged eco-warrior.
Unlike other difficult eco-choices, the challenge in deciding to go grey doesn't have to do with debating the eco-health benefits of going grey or not (hair dye is toxic), an (in)convenience (it's easier NOT to dye your hair) or cost (cheaper to go natural) but has to do implicitly with the social and cultural pressures inherent in our Western society for women to remain youthful looking in order to be a) considered a valuable part of society and b) attractive and worthy.
And yes, men do have some pressures with regards to remaining youthful, with increasing numbers dyeing their hair and wearing makeup- but like all aspects of body image and objectification of women, pressures on men are considerably less and the double standard remains. I'd also go so far as to say that we shouldn't celebrate the creeping 'equality' of youth-pressure between the sexes, but be alarmed that our society continues to move towards venerating external youth over wisdom.
Interestingly, in the past year there has been a wave of famous women and even some murmurs of a "fashion trend" towards long grey locks. For some more interesting reads check out:
"Grey Hair as Fleeting Trend or Social Statement" at Huffpo
"Not Selling Gray Hair Short" at NYTimes
"Face it, Going Gray is a Fierce Act of Bravery" at Jezebel
Overall I see this "trend" as a positive thing, and recognizing that our want to dye our hair is more social conditioning and less a true "choice" (like makeup, thinness and wrinkles) is the first step in moving towards change.
This post, and Queen Composter's post has helped me take an honest look at my own perceptions around grey hair, body image and aging. My Intention: once those grey and white hairs peek through, I am going to actively work at NOT dyeing my hair. I'm fully aware this is going to be difficult and I am allowing myself the grace of caving, but I am going to try.