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Embrace your grey: Society’s double-standard for aging men and women

By September 2, 2015 3 Comments

Does anyone else feel exasperated with the whole “women must cover their grey hair” message? Daily, we are fed images of grey haired men, being told they are distinguished, successful, powerful and that they are even sexy, mature “silver foxes”, yet at the same time we women are taught to be horrified at the thought of our greying selves.

Pictured: The primal fear of womankind, apparently.

Pictured: The primal fear of womankind, apparently.

It still bemuses me why on EARTH it is considered a female’s obligation to look young her whole life while, insultingly, her male contemporaries are free to age with happy abandon — leading men such as Russell Crowe (age 51) George Clooney (age 54), and Daniel Day-Lewis (age 58) are all joyfully rocking the grey, yet fellow stars like Demi Moore (age 52), Geena Davis (age 56), and Sigourney Weaver (age 65) must hide it (or presumably lose any chance of work).

If in reality women are actually greying younger, it’s probably due to this horrendous double standard. 

We regularly see similarly-aged couples both in the media and in reality; miraculously, the women always seem to have youthful, coloured hair, while the men are all grey. Last time I looked, all human beings grow grey hairs with age. Why are we still supposed to believe that women don’t age?

In mainstream media years, she

In mainstream media years, she’s 75.

We need to believe that we can be vibrant, successful, and empowered as we age. This includes loving our grey hair and all the wonderful things it symbolizes. Not just embracing and celebrating grey prematurely for fun, (which is very cool I must say), but learning to love our real, natural greyness.

I’m all for the creative fun of coloring our hair on and off. I’m NOT for it being a requirement aimed predominantly at women in order to “hide” grey hair. It should be a choice we individually make: “Hmm… do I feel like being grey this week? Yes I do!” or “I feel like going red”. It should not be done out of a fear of letting the world know that women do, in fact, grow older.

Hey, society: Old women exist. Female grey hair exists and it’s wonderful. Get used to it.

Love your greys, girls!

Elizabeth is a Human History Museum professional and part time artist from New Zealand. Over the years, her growing exasperation at the media’s uncontested obsession with womens’ appearance and youth has driven her to either self combust or start blogging. She chose the latter.