Thursday, March 15, 2012

Does She Or Doesn't She?

I’ll save you the suspense—I do. Definitely. For those of you who never saw those Clairol commercials, I’m talking hair dye here. In the old days (the fifties through the seventies), Clairol ran a series of ads where the tagline was “Does she or doesn’t she? Only her hairdresser knows for sure.” Back then there was something shameful about coloring your hair (think of all the jokes on I Love Lucy about Lucy’s decidedly unnatural redhead). Today, it’s sort of the opposite—if you don’t color your hair, people wonder why.

It’s now around three weeks until the Romantic Times Convention, so next week I’ll be trudging down to my local salon to let Dagne, my go-to stylist, spend three hours putting in highlights. Dagne isn’t what you’d call the fastest stylist in town, but when she’s done, those highlights will look like I was born with them. I figure it’s just my parents’ fault that I wasn’t.

Nora Ephron has pointed out that the widespread use of hair color is one of the reasons it’s so hard to tell a woman’s real age anymore (the others include exercise and the fact that nobody smokes). And I suppose the whole “wash away the gray” thing is part of the reason I get my hair done. My normal dishwater blonde is bad enough—gray would probably make me look so pale I’d blend into the wall paper.

But I think there’s more to it than that. Forty years ago, women were supposed to be self-effacing. Changing your hair color was supposed to be a mark of vanity or deception—an attempt to be something you weren’t, and thus an indication that you were well on your way to floozyville. My mom got her hair done, but she wouldn’t have considered coloring it. My MIL still wears her graying black hair in a teased bouffant, just like she did in the sixties. No deception here. No siree.

Me, I’m more interested in seeing what I can do with myself. Particularly now that I’m writing, I get a kick out of trying on different personas just for the heck of it. So my hair isn’t naturally streaked with honey-colored strands—so what? I’ve also got a purple velvet “diva coat” that I fully intend to wear to at least one RT event. Self-effacing romance authors are in the minority.

Of course, I’m not really interested in going the Katy Perry route. Blue or pink hair probably wouldn’t do much for me. And I admit that occasionally I wonder if at some point I’ll just say the hell with it and let my hair go natural. Maybe when I’m in a walker. But for now, bring it on, Dagne, bring it on.

So what about you? Hair color or hair natural?


Kelly Jamieson said...

Never. Never never never will I go gray.

Kate K said...

I have been "true blonde" since I was about 12 and found Sun-In. I went to a mousy blonde/brown color when I was pregnant with our first child (in order to avoid bleaching), and cringed each and every time I looked in the mirror. Once he was born, I re-blonded immediately. One of my nieces asked what my natural hair color was, and I told her that not only did I have absolutely no idea, I had no interest in finding out. Bah. Natural is for sissies.

Kinsey Holley said...

My hairdresser has no idea what my natural color is, neither do I. I started doing henna dyes when I was 15 (my dark blonde hair was turning dishwater), then I colored it myself for the next 25 years, then I started leaving it to the pros. So only God knows what the real color is. I know there's a good deal of gray and the rest is probably dull brown.

My sister and I have talked about this. In addition to coloring your hair, exercising (& eating healthy) and not smoking, there's no longer a set rule for the things middle aged ladies (I'm 48, she's 45) can wear any more. Sometimes that's a bad thing - no matter how in shape you are, a 50 year old should never dress like Selena Gomez- but on the other hand it means we can show our curves and we don't have to wear Christmas sweaters, velour track suits or pants and skirts with elastic waists.

Meg Benjamin said...

Amazing how many of us absolutely don't remember what our natural hair color looks like. Oh, and I used Sun-In too--so glad I can let the pros do it now.

PG Forte said...

I know exactly what color my natural hair is. It's silver. *snort*