I have no intention of going gray.
This book caught my attention with the subtitle: What I learned about Beauty, Sex, Work, Motherhood, Authenticity, and Everything Else That Really Matters. That’s what I wanted to read about.
To my good fortune, the ebook was available immediately on the NYPL site so I grabbed it, and got it on my phone. After a quick skim, I realized that perhaps a story about going gray wasn’t so interesting. I am, after all, quite committed to my monthly root touchups
Then the hardcover copy arrived. The before and after photos of author Anne Kreamer are pretty remarkable. She looks way better with gray hair! My curiosity was piqued.
It all started with a photo. Kreamer came across a picture of herself that served as the wake up which evolved into both an article for More magazine, and later the book. It details how her experiment of going gray turned into a major life changer based on not only her age and appearance, but who she really was.
In one second, all my years of careful artifice, attempting to preserve what I thought of as a youthful look, were ripped away. All I saw was a kind of confused, schlubby middle-aged woman with hair dyed much too harshly.
She quickly discovered that an exploration into authentic aging is quite radical in this day and age of our youth obsessed culture.
The anti establishment statements that certain styles of hair used to represent – long hair or Afros for men and women in the 60s, Mohawks in the 70s and 80s, Day-Glo colors in the 90s – have become period pieces. Today it seems as if the most provocatively political statement a woman can make with her hair is to let it be naturally gray.
So she delves into the research. Posing with both brunette and gray hair, she goes into the online dating world along with real-life singles bars to find out which version fares better. She also consults with others including men, stylists, and head hunters to help determine if gray hair really does equal granny status as far as the world is concerned.
In the end, Kreamer finds not only acceptance, but grace in her aging process.
I’ve actually begun to internalize and understand for real that it isn’t so much how we think others think we look that is important; it’s how we feel. I know, I know, every women’s magazin, talk show, and self-help book says the exact same thing, but I needed to experience it firsthand to believe it.
What I liked about this book was the emphasis she places on self expression. Sure, we all want to look our best as we age, but ultimately we need to decide how we will do this. Do we fight every wrinkle? Perhaps. More importantly, we figure out where our priorities lie, and do our best to live in alignment with those.
We don’t have to decide between being unshaven, unstyled, and all natural or beind dyed, Brazilian-waxed, Botoxed, restylaned, and surgically enhanced. We each have to find our own comfortable place.
Buy the book here.
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