Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Going Gray by Anne Kreamer

In Going Gray: How to Embrace Your Authentic Self with Grace and Style, Anne Kreamer examines her decision to show her true self and stop colouring her hair. While she focuses a lot on her hair and how gray hair is perceived in society, the book is much more than that. It's also about going older and the lifestyle changes that happen as we age.

I loved this book. Along with an amazing amount of research, Kreamer draws on her personal experience with the subject matter to present this book. She lays out and examines her own decision to go gray and the reactions she receives. From working with her stylist for the transformation to restyling her wardrobe for her new "colours", Kreamer shares her personal struggles and triumphs. She also spends a fair amount of time examining how others perceive gray haired individuals (through online dating websites, attractiveness surveys, job hunting experiments) and the challenges they face. Some of the results were surprising, even to the author. In addition, Kreamer also looks at gray hair in the entertainment, political and other public arenas. While most of the book focuses on women, the author briefly touches on men and their issues with their own gray hair.

I really haven't given much thought to my gray hair. I started going gray in my late twenties and used those semi-permanent colours for awhile. I gave up on that after a few years and have been going "au natural" ever since. It was never a struggle for me. I have gray hair. At my age (45), I should have gray hair. I've earned every one of them. Even if I dyed it, it would still be there; just disguised. Kreamer showed me how and why it could be hard for others. I was so surprised that there are support groups and websites for those people deciding to stop colouring their hair and to let it go gray. I had no idea. I also had no idea how passionate women are on this subject, from both sides of the "battle". Kreamer brings all of that to light.

Both of the following quotes sum up my thoughts on gray hair quite nicely. The first one (page 42 and 43) is from Daniel Gilbert, author of "Stumbling on Happiness. What he says about bald men can be applied to women and gray hair. The second (page 157) is from Anne's husband, Kurt Andersen:
As bald men with cheap hairpieces always seem to forget acting as though you have something and actually having it are not the same thing, and anyone who looks closely can tell the difference.

To me, coloring gray hair is like painting over the brick or stone or cedar shingles on a nice old house--it's not necessarily awful, but part of the beautiful essence of the real thing is how it looks as it ages. It's why we love old cities like Paris and Rome.

Highly recommended for those who dye and those who don't; for those who've embraced their gray hair and those who fear it; for those who are not afraid to show their authentic self and those who are still undercover. Know that where ever you stand on the issue, you are not alone.

For more information about this book, visit Anne Kreamer's website.


  1. Great review. This is in my TBR pile. I'm 50 and have earned quite a few gray hairs. I've never had the desire to color them - they're part of me, I guess.

  2. Very interesting. I started getting grey hair even before you. At first I liked having some grey because it gave me an appearance of maturity that I needed in my profession. Then as more came in I didn't like it because I thought it made me look older. I did use henna for a while and then I dyed my hair a few times. But I lost the enthusiasm for that when I realized how quickly it grew out so I just let it go grey. It always flabbergasted me when people would think I was much older just because I had grey hair. I didn't have wrinkles or age spots but people just looked at my hair and thought I was a senior when I was barely 40. To me it is obvious when someone has gone grey prematurely because their face still looks so young. And it is also obvious to me when someone is a senior and is colouring their hair so I don't know why they bother.

  3. Thanks Bermudaonion. My hair stylist told me dyeing my hair would make me *look* 10 years younger. I told him to get back to me when he had a product that would *make* me 10 years younger.

    Gypsysmom: Recently I saw two beautiful women on the street with silvery gray hair. I have no idea how old they were, but by looking at their faces I could tell they were not "seniors" by a long shot. I honestly can't see how they (or you, I've seen your photos on Facebook) would be mistaken for one. I love your hair colour. I hope mine is half as nice once all of the brown disappears.

    Thanks both of you for stopping by.

  4. Please check my blog...I have given you an award! :)

  5. What a great review! I have been debating on 'covering up' lately but the quote on painting over the brick struck a chord.

  6. Missy: Thanks.

    Luanne: Thanks a lot. I hoping to see the day when "going gray" becomes the cool thing to do. Wouldn't that be something?

  7. I also started going grey in my 20s, although I'm still not very grey (I'm 39). However, despite one henna experience, I've never been very tempted to dye my hair, mostly because my mum went grey very young (she started at 16!), so to me it seems quite natural (and beautiful) to be greying. Luckily my partner feels the same way -- he would agree with Anne's husband. Thanks for the great review!

  8. Thanks avisannschild. That's a great way to look at it. Thanks for stopping by.

  9. Myself, I am curious to see whether my hair is turning grey or white??? Not enough really to tell yet, but they sure are trying hard to let me know.


Thanks so much for your comment. I really appreciate it. Unfortunately, I've been getting lots of spam comments, so I'm turning on word verification to help keep spammers away. I know it's a pain; I don't like it either. Hopefully, in time I'll be able to turn it off again. Thank you!