Hair Dye

 Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Courtesy Wikimedia Creative Commons

Courtesy Wikimedia Creative Commons

Peripatetic author Malcolm Gladwell covers the subject of Hair Dye in his book, What the Dog Saw… An excerpt from the book on the daily blog, Delancey Place, reminds me of the changes.

The 1950s to 1970s saw a rise in the number of women who colored their hair from seven to forty percent. Clairol came up with a genius ad slogan, “Does she or doesn’t she?” The question gave women permission to get rid of the gray or the drab in their hair. Women generally went blonde. Blonder looked younger. Darker brought out the lines in your face.

I can’t remember when I began with color. Certainly by the time I started full-time work in 1979. The children were in school. The father-in-law I had care for had passed on. Nervous since I’d been out of the work force for years, I decided to cover the gray streaks in my hair.

Grateful to find a data entry job that would enable me to learn to operate a computer, I set to work updating my skills, hoping that I looked younger than I felt. I stuck with lipstick and a little powder to cut the shine. Eye makeup hadn’t caught on during the years I’d been home folding cloth diapers. I’ve worn glasses all my life and worried that I’d get an eye infection.

I soon noticed that many  supervisory women had gray hair. Those that did wore no makeup. If I wanted to rise above data entry, I might be better off ignoring my gray streaks.

You still see mostly blondes—with longer hair. Also purples pinks and greens. I never rose far in the corporate world. Today my hair is white. Now I write books and blog.

None of us are Marilyn, yet sometimes we reinvent ourselves.

2 responses

  1. Ah, the funny vagaries of life. My mom began to color her hair when she turned 45, and so I felt no compunction to differ when my gray began at the same age. I began with highlights – in that way, I didn’t feel like I was ‘cheating.’ Now? I cheat every 5 weeks, and will continue to do so until my gray roots look white like yours. White is lovely. 🙂

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