This is a humorous and sarcastic blog written by a paralegal in a mid-sized law firm in a mid-tier market. The goal is to share some of the pitfalls and foibles encountered in my own day-to-day experiences. Feel free to contact me at aparalegalslife@gmail.com with comments. Complaints, not so much :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Question of Vanity

I'm a guy.  I'm getting old(er).  One of the many consequences is gray hair.  Lately, it's reaching the verge of being noticeable.  Based on family history, I have a short window of time before most of my hair is gray.  This means that I have to answer an important question:

To color or not to color?

There are many aspects to this which affect my professional life as well as my personal life.  In professional life, gray hair denotes experience, but also puts you closer to retirement in an employer's mind (despite your actual age), which can affect how long they think you'll be around.  Psychology is just as important as reality in such matters. 

Granted, I realize that as a Paralegal blogger most of my readers are probably women.  Honestly, I don't know how women approach this question.  In my own family it's just something you aren't allowed to discuss.  My mother started coloring hers around 50, because she went from her original light brown to "frosted"  over about 5 years, and then to medium blonde pretty suddenly. 

Most of the men I know either let it go gray fast and live with it, or start coloring at the first sign of gray and fight it as long as possible.  My father did the latter before he finally stopped around 65 or so. 

So, any tips or thoughts?  I'm really wrestling with this.  I'm not normally a vain person, so this is more about what's better for my career prospects than anything else. 


Courtney L said...

I'm not really sure how to advise you on this. I know that men get more leeway when it comes to aging, but it probably depends on your career stage and the culture of your workplace. A friend of mine who is a software engineer colors his hair and beard when he is interviewing for new jobs, but doesn't worry about it when he has a job.

I'm 38 and starting to get some gray. It's not a lot, but my natural hair color is very dark brown, so I feel like they are more noticeable than they would be if my hair were lighter. I don't currently color my hair, but I'm considering it. I'm a career changer, so I have concerns about being in competition with significantly younger applicants when I get done with my certificate program.

Lynne DeVenny said...

Most men are lucky in that they get more distinguished looking and handsomer as they age. Look at Sean Connery, Harrison Ford, and Daniel Craig. Brad Pitt, not so much.

But I think the most important issue is what makes you feel most confident and comfortable with yourself. If the grey suits you, and you wear it well, you'll be confident and that's always a career-plus. If it's drivin' you nuts and you hate it, then you could try a temporary color, and see if you like it.

Corporate Paralegal said...

My husband is getting gray on the sides and wears them with pride. He claims that they stand for each battle with me that he has won. Not sure how I feel about that but I like that he feels confident enough about himself to let his hair go its natural color route.

I presently work directly with 3 men. The younger two have gray showing and it looks good on them. The older one (as in - he should have retired a long time ago) colors his hair. But, he also spray tans and works out at the gym for hours everyday. He does not look natural.

I guess what I am trying to say is if you color, please try to continue to look natural. Acknowledge your age and be proud that you look so good for your age. Don't spray tan and try to recapture your youth. It just looks scary.

Grumpy Humbug said...

I'm not the spray fan or heavy work-out type, so no worries there. Genetics means my gray won't come in gradually (think less than a year to total gray) so it's a now-or-never decision. If I wait and change my mind, then it becomes super-obvious.

Anonymous said...

My husbnad just started shaving his head when the first litte bit of gray came in. It's another option.

Icchic said...

I can't speak for men...but I can tell you that I earned each and every one of my grey hairs and I am oddly proud of them! My husband is secretly hoping that I end up with Emmylou Harris hair...but I think that he is dreaming on that one! lol


Grumpy Humbug said...

Shaving my head isn't an option, I have a lumpy cone-head.

GT said...

I say go for the color. A good colorist will make it look very natural and it will give your hair body and shine.

I understand that vanity is not a priority for you, but there is much to be said for feeling good about your appearance. It will flow over into your work and personal life.

I don't know your age, but it sounds like you're too young to be completely gray.

Happy decision making!!!