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100+ years of Clairol – self image isn’t only about weight

Monday, January 14, 2013

My blog entry on Saturday included the admission that I didn’t diet in the past because I didn’t feel I had to. In spite of my weight gain, my body image was fine.

Case in point: When at a family gathering my aunt remarked to my mother that ooh, Eileen got fat, I responded while gesturing around the room, “compared to whom?”

Still, there was one feature of mine that I always wanted to change – my hair color. Naturally a dark brunette like my mother’s side of the family, I wanted to know if “blondes have more fun” as the commercials said. I started dying my hair at age 15. I couldn’t easily be a blonde, but I went as light as I could with do-it-yourself home products. Did my mother object? No, she was dying her hair too. So was her sister and her daughter, my cousin. We were all “Moongold” women. We were a matched family set.

I went natural for awhile around age 40 just to see what I would look like, including the gray hair, more of which was popping up every day. Finally, my mother had enough. “Dye your hair,” she said. “What will people think if I have a gray haired daughter? They’ll know I dye MY hair.” Well, of course they would, Mom. You’re 65 and your hair hasn’t changed in 50 years.

You see, there was a time when women all claimed their hair was natural. “Only her hairdresser knows for sure” was another Clairol commercial. In our case not even a hairdresser knew for sure since we did it ourselves.

Back in the day coloring your hair was like getting some “body work” done now. It was just polite to believe whatever the remade person said.

I was 45 when my oldest daughter got married and I dyed my hair as Mom wanted. I’ve continued ever since. Fortunately, grey hair is much easier to turn blonde. After 50 years, I’ve finally reached my original goal, but whenever a form requests that I specify hair color, I’m tempted to answer “Nice and Easy #106”

Now we’ve come full circle. My daughter must decide if she wants to turn grey when her mother isn’t showing any. Her sister doesn’t have that dilemma. She started her hair dye ritual at age 15 too and never quit.

Society has expectations of how a woman should look and we can’t help but be affected by some of it. As long as it doesn’t negatively impact your life, go for it. If you prefer to defy convention, that’s OK too. Do what you have to do to keep physically and mentally healthy and happy.
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    I told my wife the other day, I wasn't sure what her original hair color was. She told me that it is now gray. I had my suspicions... For my last driver's license renewal I had to appear in person and take a written test and an eye test. When I was completing the form, I asked the lady if I should change my hair color to Grey. She looked and said, "Nah." So my driver's license still says "BRN". What do you think?
    1923 days ago
    I stopped dyeing my hair awhile ago. I have a few grays in my naturally dark blond hair. The gray hair mixes in with the blond so I just look more blond.
    1924 days ago
    There are no grey hairs.... just sparkly ones! I have "natural platinum highlights" according to my lovely hairdresser.
    1925 days ago
    I have left mine alone for over a year now and I don't think I can go much longer. Streak it at home - trying to match what it use to do naturally in the sun before I decided to get healthy and keep my face and head covered in Phx heat. Thought I was going to quit coloring, but it just seems so blah.
    1925 days ago
    Thank goodness for the option of being able to color! My hair was so short for 15 years, that is wasn't worth coloring. Now that I am letting it grow out again, I just self-colored earlier this month! Seems like an easy "fix" compared to other vanity issues!!

    1925 days ago
    I love all these issues that you bring up. We've come pretty far as women but there are still these "vanity" issues that are in our culture. I'm 67 and basically a hippie inside. I never wore makeup and still don't, but several years ago I started having my hair colored with pink and blondish highlights. It was fun for awhile but the color doesn't last long anymore and it's very expensive. A couple of weeks ago my daughter gave us all blue highlights. Mine turned out blue-green and I thought I looked like a mermaid. A grandma mermaid. But it's almost all gone already.

    The women I admire most are those with natural beauty, whatever it is. I see a lot of botox and eye lifts around here and it creeps me out. Gray or white hair can be gorgeous. A smile can be gorgeous. Beautiful energy can be gorgeous.

    That said, to each her own.
    1925 days ago
    Hair dying, make up, shape altering undergarments. We men don't even know what you really look like. Not complaining, though, ya'll look purty and smell nice, too. Thanks for all that hard work you but in to look nice for us.
    1925 days ago
  • 62NVON
    I love this! I don't dye mine; it's naturally dirty blonde. But I do help it out with Sun-In. That keeps it on the lighter side and helps with the gray.

    I say, barring anything risky, do whatever you like to make you feel better about yourself!
    1926 days ago
    I have dyed my hair, just for fun, a few times, but now that I've noticed the grays coming in, it'll be natural the rest of my life. I'm embracing the dozen long silver hairs I have.
    1926 days ago
    My mother finally decided to stop dyeing her hair red at 94! She is now a silver fox and getting tons of compliments on her hair. What a surprise! She tells me now that she is in her nineties she is getting more beautiful every day! I still dye my hair because my grey comes in salt and pepper and would definitely wash me out.
    1926 days ago
    My mom was Moongold Blonde for years too! I remember buying the stuff for her at the Ben Franklin's Five and Dime. Then back in the 90's, she decided to stop coloring and as her hair grew in, it turned out she was naturally....Moongold Blonde, LOL. She had messed around with her color for so long, she forgot what her natural hair looked like. She finally started getting a little grey around age 80. She is now 86 and still has a lot of her Moongold hair, with some grey, but not all.
    1926 days ago
    I love your answer to your aunts comment about your weight! Good for you! I started to grey early and have chosen so far not to change that. But who knows, not that I'm getting healthier and thinner, I just might make a few other changes!

    Have a great week,

    Karen emoticon
    1926 days ago
    Yep, that's one ritual I'm not going to give up. I look old enough as is, thank you!
    1926 days ago
    I defied haircoloring for a long time, but the gray hairs were popping up all the time...and now, after 2 years, my hairdresser finallly did the all red dye on my brown hair and I love it! I am a redhead in the sun, and a bark brown in the house... and it suits me and my personality. i don't think it would have fit me back 50 pounds ago....I just wasn't in "that place" yet to do anything "nice" for myself... now, after 3 kids, and 13 years married, I consider it more "me time" to look good and to feel good....and yes, to even defy my age a little bit!

    And WILSONWR - you crack me up!! We touched up my hubby's gray beard and had a good laugh the other night! He's with you in that regard!
    1926 days ago
    I didn't realized so many people dyed their hair! Maybe I should give it a try! (nah -- I'll just be grey)
    1926 days ago
    The hair dye thing is kind of funny. One day I realized that NONE of my friends had their natural hair color. Since we are out in the sun a lot, most of us end up some shade of blonde, either intentionally or unintentionally. All of the husbands have turned grey and/or are balding.

    I can't go by my Mom. She's 91 and still has natural strawberry blonde hair with only minimal grey....VERY unusual! One of the caregivers tried to take her wig off when she was going to give her a shower.........but, oops, it didn't come off. She was a hair model in her younger days and I have some beautiful pictures of her.

    I have about 10 grey hairs at 63 in my light brown hair..........which I color to a warmer shade because I find my own boring!

    The grey hair thing is just heredity. Guess women color their hair, grey or not!
    1926 days ago
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