The Week In Books, No. 43A – Playing With Hair

GIRLS, y’all need to read this book!!!!

I really want to discuss it with someone!

Going Gray: How to Embrace Your Authentic Self with Grace and Style by Anne Kreamer is a fascinating account of the author’s decision to stop dyeing her hair at the age of 49. She records reactions of her friends, family, associates, and strangers, did some interesting and surprising survey research, and generally dissected how American women think about hair.

Kreamer points out that our hair says something about us, like it or not. She looks at our cultural conceptions of beauty, ageing, and femininity in terms of hairstyles, colors, lengths, and so on. The research surprised me, and the visceral responses of the women Kreamer encountered when she went gray surprised me too. It really made me think about identity issues, what kind of image I am trying to present to the world (and why), and if my hair style is really conveying what I want it to.

Kreamer stops short of saying that all women should go gray naturally, but her experience makes a good case for it. The back cover of the book shows two pictures with the same background and similar clothes and makeup. In the picture on the left, Kreamer looks like a woman in her late 40s or early 50s, but, in my opinion, she looks old for her age. In the picture on the right, Kreamer still looks the same age, but looks young for her age. It’s amazing how much more sophisticated, elegant, and beautiful she looks with her natural hair color.

Every woman has a good hair story. Girls my age tell of their ’80’s pouffy hair, at Mom’s Night Out last month Rachelle told a hilarious story about accidentally setting her hairspray on fire, and I could tell you about the time I accidentally dyed my hair dark green while trying to get from blonde to brown (and my mom made me go to church with it like that so I wouldn’t be vain, thanks Mom). Even if you’re not that into hair (or think you aren’t), you’ll probably enjoy this funny and entertaining book.

Do keep reading past the first few pages, and make the effort to overlook Kreamer’s weird spiritual-ism-ish-ness and politics, it’s worth it.

Let me know if you read this book so we can talk about it!

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