Several women in my family went prematurely gray, and since they were not slaves to the beauty industry I knew from an early age those strands which society hates so much would pop out soon. Sure enough, at the age of 12, they started. Remarks were plenty, but none (that got to my ears) were patronising about my choice to leave it be.
(Frankly, the thought of that carcinogenic sludge on my hair or skin was less the attractive option than staying salt-n-pepper, never mind the time sink of perpetual coloring sessions.)
Here in Southeast Asia, with the role of women as they are (subservient, servile, invisible unless spoken to), the pressure to look good is greater, which explains why the taboo of gray hair is so much worse than it is back home in the US. There’s hardly a salon visit here in which I don’t shock the stylist with my natural grays and scolded that I should color my hair so that I “look good” and make my husband happy.
It’s like the conversations with my male Khmer friends acquaintances: “What do you mean your wife has no interests?” “You don’t know how to cook?”
Sigh. Sometimes there’s such charm in ignorance.
Needless to say, those stylists got an earful on how this chic-tica views such advice and why they won’t get my business again – but only after the cut and style was finished!
So the times they are a-changin’, and goin’ gray has become the vogue thing in the fashionista world. As uncommon as it is for caucasian women in the spotlight to be comfortable getting photographed with their gray, there are even fewer Asian women mellowing to this route. (Ping me if you see any, I’ll post their photos to replace the ones above, beautiful as they are!)