graying out, outing gray

Maybe I’m just more aware of it since I let my hair grow out gray, but I’m seeing more and more women in their 50s and 60s who are sporting various shades of naturally graying hair. The exceptions might be the women in Florida, who, my cousins who live there tell me, are all blonds.

The national census taken five years ago indicates that a little over 12% of Americans were older than 65 at the time. The census report also states that:

Projected percentage increase in the 65-and-over population between 2000 and 2050 [will be 147%]. By comparison, the population as a whole would have increased by only 49 percent over the same period.

Gray is in. Unfortunately, in some ways, gray is also the new Black, as we become more and more sensitive to the subtle ageism that permeates our culture. I don’t know anyone who has documented the negative and prejudicial attitudes about aging better than Ronni Bennett at Time Goes By.

But gray, nevertheless, is in. And, hopefully, the Gray Panthers, founded in 1970, will grow into an even greater force in the years to come.

Maggie Kuhn convened a group of five friends, all of whom were retiring from national religious and social work organizations. This first “Network” of friends gathered to look at the common problems faced by retirees — loss of income, loss of contact with associates and loss of one of our society’s most distinguishing social roles, one’s job. They also discovered a new kind of freedom in their retirement — the freedom to speak personally and passionately about what they believed in, such as their collective opposition to the Vietnam War.

Currently, the Gray Panthers are working to affect 8 major issues, with health care being the first on the list.

Gray is in. It’s in on the Internet as well. The Ageless Project lists almost 500 bloggers who are over 55, and every day, retirees who are comfortable using communication technologies because of their job experiences reach out into online social networks for diversion and stimulation,.

Too long has becoming gray (in the larger sense of growing older) been something to avoid at all costs, although the costs to those doing the avoiding are high — all of those hair coloring treatments and anti-aging creams, and even botox and plastic surgery.

How much healthier to be gray and proud of it and all of the experience and wisdom it implies.

Go Gray!

2 thoughts on “graying out, outing gray

  1. I’ve never dyed my hair (not counting the time in my early 30s when I had a small patch over my left temple stripped and dyed purple). Both my mother and my grandmother never dyed theirs. My sister went gray very early and dyed her hair until recently, when she made the transition to natural. It looks awesome!

    I love my salt and pepper hair. I’m not sure if I will love it as much when there is more salt than pepper…? But I will get used to it, I am never going to color it. I want to tell other women not to dye their hair and how great natural hair is – but it is a touchy subject.

    Something funny, that patch I had stripped years ago (btw, it never worked; it was really hard to strip the black out and the purple wouldn’t take – red took poorly, eventually became orange and then yellow) – that patch is now completely grey. I got what I wanted, I guess. It makes me look even more like a special paternal aunt (died 1980) whom I resemble.

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