Ask Amy: Can a Woman Be a "Silver Fox"?

September 23rd, 2020

Is gray beautiful or just frumpy?

Gray haired woman is a beautiful silver fox

Dear Amy: Because of salons being closed during the pandemic, I was able to see the true color of my hair for the first time in decades. I love my natural salt-and-pepper hair color and decided to grow out my hair. I’m very happy with my choice of not putting itchy chemicals on my head and saving time and money at the salons.

I joined with (online) groups with women who are also going through this transformation. Ninety-eight percent of the women look better in their real hair color, versus their dyed hair.

Luckily for me, my mate, family, and friends are supportive. Unfortunately, the women in these groups and I have all received negative comments from the people in our lives, and even from strangers. People tell us: “You’re going to look old; you’re letting yourself go; I’ll pay for you to have your hair dyed; no man will ever date you; nobody will hire you…” and so forth.

I would never think to criticize someone’s appearance. I keep those opinions to myself. Don’t people realize how hurtful these comments are? Do they really think their negative comments are helpful? Why can’t women be silver foxes like men are?

— My Hair, My Choice

Dear My Hair: Yes, a woman CAN be a silver fox – and silver hair is definitely chic.

When it comes to unsolicited comments about your looks, you have a legitimate beef. However, understand that when you join an online group whose sole focus is to commiserate about hair color, you’re going to spend a certain amount of time discussing how people look.

You yourself have chosen to declare that “98 percent of women look better in their real hair color,” which is a subjective and superficial value judgment. Aren’t you now harshly judging people who choose to dye their hair? (Full disclosure: I’ve been dyeing my own hair – at home – for over 20 years.)

See how Boomer editor Annie Tobey chose to highlight her hair.

I’m going to take a stab at guessing that many of these negative comments are coming from other women. In a perfect world, we would all be free to make choices about our bodies and clothing without running the gauntlet of unsolicited comments, but we make these choices to please ourselves (and often, others). And people in general are social, communal budinskis.

You need only to decide how to respond. To a stranger: “Umm, do I know you? Why are you sharing your opinion with me?” To a friend/family member: “I think I look great, and honestly, that’s all that matters to me.”

Want to get even more life tips from Amy? Read more of her advice columns here!

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2020 by Amy Dickinson

More from Boomer