Proud to Be Pro-Age and Pro-Grey

Why is it that the more I pull away from the youthful demands of society, the happier I feel? 

by Julie Meulemans • Member { View Profile }
Photograph: iStock

Truth is that I have always marched to the beat of my own drum, if you will. In fact, whenever a glossy fashion magazine tries to convince me that the newest fad will change my life forever and make me appear 10 years younger, it makes me bristle a bit. One Sunday morning I was reading the style section of The San Francisco Chronicle (Side note: The San Francisco Chronicle’s Sunday Style Section is like eating dessert), and there was a full-page article about a woman by the name of Cindy Joseph. Cindy Joseph was a makeup artist to the stars who became a super model. At the age of 49, and totally grey, she was discovered on the streets of New York City by a casting agent seeking a model for Dolce & Gabbana and the rest is history. The article went on to chronicle how, after years of modeling in her 40s and 50s, she developed a line of cosmetics for women, and was embarking on a pro-age revolution. (Side note: Boom! by Cindy Joseph is the name of the line, and while there are just four products in the entire collection, they all pack a punch, and I highly recommend giving them a whirl)

Cindy Joseph conveyed in one article what I had been trying to emulate blindly for more than 10 years. In a time when aging is practically shameful, this woman was bucking the system. You know — growing older, embracing the lines, accepting the greys, being as fit and healthy as you can, and not apologizing for the fact that you don’t look 20 anymore. Here’s the deal. I am cool enough for my age. My abs are passable in a bikini. I have a smattering of Tesla and Metallica on my iPod. Granted, they’re lodged somewhere between Barry Manilow and the Glee version of "Thriller." But it seems that the illusion of youth has become the goal, and we are all in a race to see who will succeed as the youngest old person. While I have no judgment about others enhancing with Botox or other procedures, I can’t help but think that it is being widely chosen because it’s seen as the only plausible option.

So let me pose this question: Why does Anderson Cooper have two national shows and a head of silver hair? I think we can all agree that there is not one woman in the national media with silver hair. In fact when I look around the only actress who comes to mind as standing firm with grey locks is Jamie Lee Curtis. I applaud her decision and, frankly, she is sexier than most actresses half her age who are already trying to set back the hands of time with one procedure after another.

I was pleased to read last year about longtime San Francisco news anchor Dana King. She too chased the greys for years until it became so much of a chore that she was dying her hair every two to three weeks. Interestingly, she approached her general manager about the prospect of letting her hair go grey, and he was not supportive, but she chose to do it anyway — a ballsy move for Ms. King in a time when looks continue to trump the excellence of great journalism. She took the plunge knowing that her contract was secure until 2013. A short time after kicking the bottle of dye to the proverbial curb, a strange thing happened. The people of the Bay Area started to take notice. Her hair even generated a sizable article in The Sunday Chronicle. When all was said and done the verdict was in and guess what? The response from the viewers was an overwhelming “atta girl.”

I believe we have more power than we think against the multi-billion dollar beauty industry. After all, this is an industry dependent upon our hard earned dollars. If the power of the people can affect change then why can’t we begin to alter the discussion of what we want as consumers? Why are we allowing the powers that be to make us believe that you are either young at all cost or old and washed up? Don’t get me wrong. I love everything fashion and strive to always look my best. I’m just saying why can’t there be fifty shades of grey (so to speak)?

I just learned that in 1950 less than 10 percent of women dyed their hair, and today that number exceeds 90 percent. Why? I’ll tell you why. Because it’s a grand gesture of manipulation brought to us by a select few, and we are all puppets in the great show called the bubble of beauty.

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