I found a white hair the other day.
It wasn’t gray. It wasn’t ashy. It was wiry, long and white. And as vehemently as I’ve always vowed to gray gracefully, I’m telling you I totally wigged out. Then I yanked it.
I’m 36, so I figure I have a few years before head-tweezing becomes a regular occurence. My mom only began to go gray in her late 50s, and she doesn’t do a damn thing about it; it looks pretty chic, actually. But she doesn’t have to go to work. And my pop, well, he’s been bald since he was a seminary student in his 20s. Besides, it’s different for men. What would I do if my grays hit while I’m still trying to do the corporate thang?
It sounds like a ridiculous conundrum in this day and age. But maybe it’s not. Read this excellent article in a recent TIME called “The War Over Going Gray,” in which the author Anne Kreamer likens the Gray Wars to the Mommy Wars:
There are differences between the gray wars and the mommy wars, of course. For starters, the stakes in the debate between stay-at-home mothers vs. working mothers are plainly, unequivocally serious, since that’s a zero-sum game between maximum professional fulfillment and maximum parental availability. But there are serious and similar social crosscurrents underlying the apparently trivial issue of hair color as well, and the divide is of roughly the same scale. Three-quarters of women from 25 to 54 are in the labor force these days, twice as many as worked a half-century ago — which is why the decision to be a stay-at-home mother became a difficult and fraught minority choice. And according to a 2005 Procter & Gamble survey, 65% of women had colored their hair in the previous year, several times as many as in the 1950s, which is why going gray has become a difficult and an equally fraught choice for modern women to make.
Kreamer argues this is for the most part a women’s problem. The Wall Street Journal says otherwise—at least, that is, not in China. Apparently,
Very few of China’s political and business leaders these days seem to go gray.
It is possible that could have something to do with genes, but something else is involved, too. For aging men of influence here, the dye job appears to have become as commonplace as the Mao suit once was.
Though they range in age from 52 to 67, the most senior leaders in the Politburo Standing Committee include nine men with nary a white strand of hair.
In the TIME article, Kreamer reports a longstanding bias in the workplace against people with gray hair. My own industry is famously ageist, and now that I think about it, there aren’t that many gray or white heads walking around the building.
Do you, or would you, dye your hair for work?