Hema Vijay on the eternal conflict that plagues women — dye hair or grey gracefully?
It is a painstaking schedule that will put to shame a soldiers’ regimen — stay on vigil to spot and deal with those grey hairs that sprout unfailingly every week.
Armed with henna and synthetic hair colours, you try to fight the grey army, and wonder whether the black ones grow just as fast, or if there’s a special life force behind the grey ones?
Women over 40 will understand what I’m talking about (of course, a few lucky ones will never have to deal with this trouble until they are well into their 50s!).
But then, it is an individual thing — I noticed my first grey hair when I was at college. It was a single hair creeping out above my left ear. Then, it was a matter of pride, and I flaunted it to friends.
The big battle
But now into my mid-30s, the odds have changed. It is not a question of one grey hair among millions of black hair, but a few hundreds. Here I am, resolutely battling my grey war, and the fact that my elder sister’s mane is still coal-dark, and her mother-in-law’s even darker, does not help!
I am often caught between choosing the lesser evil — henna my hair and see it assume a funny maroon tint, or take the synthetic route with hair colourants that give a decent shade of black without making you look as if you are wearing a wig. Of course, it helps that auburn and reddish hair have become a fashion statement these days, as against earlier when they would have been dismissed as chembattai or thenga naar. Eventually, I use a combination, alternating between the two, imagining that my hair looks quite normal because of this judicious mix.
Sporting a strikingly trendy haircut, Sangeetha, who just turned 42, and has decided to let her hair take its own course, asks: “Why is a grey-haired man labelled ‘distinguished’ while a grey-haired woman dubbed ‘old’?” There are women such as Sangeetha who wear their grey mane with grace, while there are those who are not as comfortable. Manisha, for instance. She says: “I am tired of 20 years of grey-fighting, but I don’t dare to leave my hair grey.”
Here’s a handy tip (from the Internet) to those worrying over their greying hair: White hair can look nice, if sleek, groomed and shiny. And, a nice haircut really helps.
But, what gives some women the confidence to go grey? Maybe it’s about being yourself…