The Blog

The Very Grey Area of Why We're So Keen to be Mean

As the owner of an age-perfecting beauty brand, Studio 10, my desire to encourage older women to feel beautiful and believe that they can look great at any age is absolutely all-consuming.

It is what drove me to start the business. It is the purpose behind every product we develop, tutorial we write and message we send. Older women are as beautiful as their younger counter-parts. We believe it and we live it.

The thing is, we also need them to start to believe it. Not just about themselves, but also one another - and understand that that 'beautiful' means different things, to different people. Not so we can sell more products, but because it's absolutely, unequivocally the truth.

image from Wikipedia

Case in point. Last week hairdresser Nicky Clarke suggested that Kate Middleton, barely in her mid-thirties, was a 'disaster' for letting her grey hair show.

Nicky, who has tended to the tresses of many a maturing celeb, including Elizabeth Taylor and ironically Princess Diana said: 'It's not a good look, unless you are really old it isn't acceptable to let grey show.'

Brilliantly women all over bit back, defending Kate's right to let a few stragglers show rather than use toxic chemicals when pregnant.

So far, so good right?


A quick internet search showed that grey has suddenly become the new Botox is debate terms, with women hotly battling on forums across the land over whether dyeing out the grey is against our feminist sensibilities.

'How ridiculous' I say, and journalist and health and wellbeing author, Leah Hardy, certainly agrees. In a post on her Facebook page she wrote about how she had been colouring her hair for years, long before ageing took over. Her hair colour is part of who she is and she doesn't understand why that has to be justified to anyone?

The double standards aren't just aimed at women either. Writing on her wall a commentator said she wondered if Paul McCartney ever had to apologise for dyeing his hair (doubtful).

But quite fairly, Leah, who has over 20 years of experience in the sector, said she thought many men would probably love to hide their ages with a bottle but were scared of being ridiculed.

The issue here clearly isn't in whether or not going grey is ok. It is in our inability to allow one another to make choices about our appearance free from comment.

Why is it ok for 20-something Cara Delavigne to go pink, fabulously pink? But not ok for 30-something Kate Middleton to let a couple of greys show when she is pregnant. Whilst this time last year Nicole Richie was feted by the fashion set for dying her hair a fetching shade of silver artificially, quite simply because she wanted to.

Who is this arbiter of what is right for whom and why? Helen Mirren, Carmen dell’Orefice, Judi Dench. They all have grey hair and look fabulous.

Marie Helvin, Jane Fonda, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Sharon Stone - none of them have grey hair, now who wants to tell me they don't look wonderful too?

Just last week Helen Mirren talked about how she didn't care a jot for what people thought of how she looked, preferring to dress, look and act how she pleased! If only all of us could take this message on board, oh how much more enjoyable getting older would be.

This isn't about grey/black/blonde or pink. This is about us learning to stop forcing our own personal standards of attractiveness onto one another. Botox, post-baby weight, hair dye....there doesn't seem to be a choice we won't judge, a standard we won't debate.

How about we all just decide that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and remember. When it comes to the issue of someone else's appearance, if you can't 'grey' something nice, don't 'grey' anything at all....

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have an appointment at the hairdressers - those greys don't dye themselves you know!