Article by Ceri Wheeldon
Why I am getting tired of justifying why I don’t have grey hair!
When I set up Fab after Fifty over 11 years ago, is was to provide resources for women to live their best possible lives over 50. At the time there was very little out there that supported getting older in a positive way. Mainstream media was so far behind in how they presented midlife women – whenever I had a meeting the only over 50 celebrities mentioned were Helen Mirren and Judi Dench – both fabulous but both considerably over 50. In fact Judi Dench is older than my mother. Perceptions were lagging behind reality. I was on a mission to change that. This was at a time when there was no Instagram and midlifers were yet to adopt facebook as their platform of choice.
Positive messages about life and work over 50
I poured everything into getting positive messages about ageing and working over 50 in particular out into the world.
Fast forward 11 years and I have to be honest. I have become disillusioned. It seems that all that I have done is being overshadowed by the fact that I don’t have grey hair. I am often asked why I don’t post many photos of myself on the site or my various social media profiles. There are a number of reasons for this . Firstly I have never liked having my photograph taken – even as a child. Secondly, Fab after Fifty was never supposed to be about me. I created it to provide resources and also to highlight real women who are reinventing their lives and living life to the full. The third reason has only recently come into play. When I post photos of myself I am criticised for not embracing my age – for not practicing what I am encouraging other women to do. The reason being that I do not have grey hair. It seems that I letting down the sisterhood by not showcasing my silver tresses.
Some women do have naturally grey hair and choose to colour it. That is absolutely their choice – just as it is a choice to let your hair go grey naturally. I think its a great step forward that women do not feel pressured to cover the grey to feel good about themselves. Equally those who choose to continue to dye their hair should not be criticised for doing so. And for those of us who go grey later than others (some don’t go grey at all) we should not be judged based on the colour of our hair.
As it happens, my hair is not grey. It has become darker as I have got older – but it hasn’t gone grey. I have a few blonde highlights added every few months or so ( mostly as it helps with the texture) , but I have no grey to cover. Even during lockdown when my blonde highlights grew out no grey appeared. My grandmother didn’t go grey. At the very end of her life following surgery she developed one white streak through her hair – but the remainder stayed dark. My mother started going grey in her late thirties – she took after her silver haired father- my sister has embraced her grey. So far I have no grey.
I think the problem with hair is that the visual impact on seeing someone is immediate. Some may choose to go grey to ’embrace their age’ yet still choose to have botox, fillers or even cosmetic surgery. Absolutely their choice but far less obvious and so any criticism from the ’embrace your age’ judges is held back
I am tired of constantly apologising for this fact and having it overshadow all the work I have over the past 11 years. So much so that I was seriously thinking of walking away from the website and the Fab after Fifty project. I feel I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t. If I don’t post pictures of me then I am criticised for not showing the person behind the brand, but when I do post images I am criticised for not embracing my age. Either way I can’t win. Why are women of our age so judgemental?