I was, however, unprepared for the commentary, nearly all from men. Good grief, is that really you? said one man, who I hadn't seen for a while. How did you get so grey?? Did worrying about the environment do that to you?
No, I said. I just stopped dyeing my hair.
Well, you'd lose ten years if you went back to dyeing it, he advised.
I remembered a trip to a nightclub while in my 20s, when a much older man hitched up beside me on the bar and opined, you know, your face not bad, but your body could use some work. He was at least 30 pounds overweight himself.
I noticed TV anchors, the men with their short greying hair, looking mature and distinguished, their years garnering respect, while the female anchors dyed their hair, had plastic surgery and looked starved and desperate. Does nothing ever change, I wondered? My grey hair became a minor form of defiance.
And now I love it. It's real. It asks nothing of me and costs neither time nor money. It says something about who I am, a many layered, flawed, elder woman who has too much to do and too much to think about to give hair colour the time of day. When I tried to express some of this to another, critical male acquaintance, he said, are you going to stop bathing too?
But I'm not asking all women to stop dyeing their hair. Their hair, their choice. My only request is whether a woman chooses black, blonde, green, grey or shaved hair, all she should attract is silence or admiration.