Sunday, January 27, 2013

Not Selling Gray Hair Short

Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times
Flaunting their gray hair, whether short or long: Cindy Joseph, third from left, and Dianna Jewell, fourth from left, organized a "Silver Sisters Strut" last fall in Times Square.
Cindy Joseph, a model, knew she was being subversive when she stopped tinting her long, loose waves more than a decade ago.

“Some people think that if you wear your silver hair long, you look like a witch or ‘that frumpy old hippie lady,'” she said. 

But she and a significant cohort of graying Americans seem intent these days on proving otherwise. 
Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times

Jo Johnson joined other "silver sisters" at the event.
Last fall Ms. Joseph, still modeling at 60 but also now a blogger and cosmetics entrepreneur, led a band of silver-haired marchers to Times Square. It was a mini demonstration that she and Diana Jewell, a writer and fellow organizer, called the Silver Sisters Strut. “We are the women that we wished we would have had in our lives,” Ms. Joseph said, “if they weren’t busy getting their hair dyed.” 

In a series of portraits by Vicki Topaz, a photographer based in San Francisco, inveterate rule breakers like Susan Kim, 54, a boutique owner, showily fans out her steel-colored hair, while Gloria Frynn, 60, a college professor, runs her fingers through a mass of curls. 

“Believe me, these are women who have fun,” said Ms. Topaz, whose exhibition of photographs, “Silver: a State of Mind,” is on view through February at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, Calif., in Marin County. Reveling in their manes, she said, “reflects their confidence, their ease with being who they are.” 

Still, wearing one’s gray hair long is viewed in some quarters as ill-advised. If the cut is not precise, “you’re going to run the risk of looking haggard,” warned Lisa Cicchini, a stylist in Manhattan. She nonetheless finds herself frequently fielding questions from clients, she said, about “where we can push the envelope.”
Eva Scrivo, a Manhattan salon owner and beauty writer, sees four or five clients a week, compared with perhaps one or two in recent years, asking to grow their silver hair past their shoulders. “Longer hair makes them feel more feminine,” she said. 

Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times

Susan Hersh, a Ford model, at the celebration of gray hair.

That choice, however, flies in the face of a long-held assumption that a lavish head of snowy hair is somehow unseemly, a rude reminder that a woman, whatever her age, remains a sexual being. 

“Sensuality doesn’t wane as you get older,” Ms. Joseph said. “It’s still there.”

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