To dye or not to dye? That is the question posed by Anne Kreamer's Going Gray. In a bold move, Kreamer, at 49 (but feeling 35), decided to leave the corporate environment, begin writing full time and let her gray-haired self come out. When I made my decision to go gray, she writes, I had no idea that the choice would elicit such emotionally laden responses. In Going Gray, she interviews women in various careers who have chosen to live confidently with their natural hair color. Emmylou Harris, the sixty-year-old country singer, is the great American icon for gray-haired female sexiness, she notes. On the subject of exposing one's true self, Harris tells her, Who wants to put on an act twenty-four hours a day? Despite our culture's obvious obsession with looking as young as possible for as long as possible, Kreamer cites the recent frenzy of media stories concerning Helen Mirren's beauty, and Meryl Streep's dynamic portrayal of an absolutely ungrandmotherly white-haired magazine editor in The Devil Wears Prada as evidence of a shifting consciousness.
But there are plenty of dissenting voices, too. Kreamer admits her friend, famed writer/director/producer Nora Ephron, whose latest book, I Feel Bad About My Neck, is a collection of wise and witty essays about aging, has no plans to stop coloring her hair. She's 66. How we choose to grow older is deeply idiosyncratic, Kreamer says, and is a matter of individual taste and circumstance depending on one's age, romantic status, professional situation, class, race, ethnicity, geography, all of it. Whether 'tis nobler to wear the inevitable signs of aging proudly or to take arms against them Going Gray explores this contemporary conundrum in the most, well, colorful terms. Linda Stankard is dyeing to be seen as a successful Realtor in Piermont, New York.