Social Question

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Why are women and not men judged for not dying their grey hair?

Asked by Pied_Pfeffer (27567points) June 12th, 2015

Based on some of the responses on this question asking which females dye their hair this one targeted at men who dye their hair, there is a disparity.

Why is that? Does it only pertain to certain cultures? Does it only pertain to the US and there are other countries or cultures where women, and not men, are judged disfavorably for having greying hair?

Do you judge a woman differently than a man who has grey or greying hair? If so, why?

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50 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

In America our society tends to value men who are and look mature and responsible, and women for looking young, sexual, and fertile.

Coloma's avatar

Yep…^^^ @JLeslie nailed it. Men are valued for power and money which usually comes with maturity, women are valued for youthful good looks.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@JLeslie and @Coloma So who are the people doing the judging? Is there any proof to this?

The reason for asking is that I live in the US and haven’t seen this in practice. Females being young? Yes. Looking young due to covering up grey hair? No.

Coloma's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer It is not so much any individual, it is societies programming in general. I really don;t think most “judge” consciously, but everyone knows what the game is in western society.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I actually think a little grey on a woman is kinda sexy as long as she has young looking features. I like my women organic like that though.

stanleybmanly's avatar

The thing that I find most annoying is that women are hoodwinked into playing along with and promoting the huge farce.

Jaxk's avatar

Women overall, spend considerably more time on their looks. Shampoos, conditioners, lipstick, nail polish, hair coloring, wrinkle creams, and on and on. I see no surprise that as women age, they would continue this process. Men, it’s more of a haircut and shave. Although the shave is beginning to disappear.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@Jaxk the shave is indeed going away, I hardly bother but a few times a week. Most folks at work shave just whenever also.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@Jaxk Women in general in our society, yes. The question is why.

stanleybmanly's avatar

@Jaxk I remember the revelation from my barber when I asked why it was that no one came to barber shops for a shave anymore. His answer surprised me in that I should have figured it out. He simply replied “aids”

JLeslie's avatar

Here is an article about appearance, but not grey hair specifically that you might find interesting.

Another article here

Plus, I think it also matters how often you have to make a first impression. Some jobs it is every day.

The new trend of young people dying their hair grey actually makes me uncomfortable. Someone 30 with grey hair is a little jarring to me, even though I know early grey does actually really happen to more than a few people in their 20’s.

I think age matters. 40’s is too young to be grey. It can look lazy or unkempt if it’s just some straggly greys. While 60 and significant grey can look the person’s age. I guess it’s the transition time that maybe is judged the harshest.

Grey hair can easily age someone 10+ years.

Obviously, corporations have a vested interest in wanting us to dye our hair for years on end. Dye our hair, Botox, lotions and potions, fancy clothes, expensive make up. All big money, big business. So, they spend a lot of business convincing the public all that is important.

Jaxk's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer – OK, here’s my take on it. A women can be beautiful. Even a fairly homely women can be made up to look exceedingly attractive. A women’s body is simply exquisite. A man on the other hand is not. No manner of makeup or blemish remover will fix the basic package. I’ve referred to the comment from Elaine from the old Seinfeld series before but it is relevant. “A women’s body is a work of art, a man’s body is more utilitarian, like a jeep.

Another way to look at this is if you have a nice shiny new car, you tend to wash and wax it more than if you have some rusty old truck. Even if the new car begins to age, as long as the paint is good and the body is straight, you will continue to wash and wax it. That rusty old truck will never see armourall or wax.

Blondesjon's avatar

On behalf of bald people everywhere, we don’t give a fuck about your first hair problems.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

No post so far has answered the question. Why single out women vs. men for having grey hair?

Jaxk's avatar

I don’t see any indication that women are singled out more so than men. Just because women dye their hair more often than men doesn’t mean they are singled out by others. Hell young women dye their hair more often than young men. You posted nothing that would indicate there is a difference in perception by others.

JLeslie's avatar

I think the length of hair has something to do with it. Long hair with some greys is more likely to look as though something should be done. Probably because long hair is associated with youth.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I try not to judge anyone. But our society says women have to look like a Cosmo model. Guys can be rough and dirty and they’re still sexy. What’s with that?

Coloma's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer I answered.
Because women are valued for youthful looks and gray hair is not synonymous with youth.

janbb's avatar

I think men who color their hair – and for some reason it is usually obvious – are judged more harshly than women who either do or don’t color their hair.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Completely wacked thought but it just popped into my head. Do guys look at women with grey hair and think past being able to produce children, so coloring your hair is trying to fool me? Please don’t slice off my head, I just had that pop into my mind.

JLeslie's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I already said it and no one sliced my head off.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

You’re also a woman and I’m a male. Let’s see what happens.

ibstubro's avatar

Because it’s mostly the women doing the judging and women are harder on other women than they are on men, or than men are on women.

I agree with @JLeslie that the quantity of hair has a lot to do with it. Both length and that fact that relatively few women bald (sorry @Blondesjon). I dyed my goatee for a number of years because my hair was pepper with salt and you couldn’t see the goatee if it was all white. Short grey hair tends to highlight your face. Long grey hair can wash you out.

Finally, I agree with @janbb. Men who dye their hair tend to self-dye and it’s screamingly obvious, so they are judged the harshest. Non-celebrity men generally aren’t comfortable sitting in a salon for an hour+ and spending more than $20 maintaining physical appearance.
The more professional a dye job is, the less flack someone takes over it, IMO. A perfect dye job is a bit of artistry, whether on a man or woman, and is appreciated as such.

Aethelwine's avatar

We have the fucking media to thank.

Pandora's avatar

I think it really depends on your skin color and the color of the grey. Some people have unhealthy looking hair because of all the stripping they have done on their hair to lighten it. So when their hair comes in white they are usually balding or the hair has thinned. Their hair will look dull and sickly and they will either over do with the make up to make up for the lack luster hair or stop maintenance altogether and let there skin look just as bad. So instantly they look 10 to 20 years older. I was resisting letting my grey hair grow in but I got a cute cut and make sure to keep my locks looking healthy along with my skin.. So far many people like it. They thought I dyed it this way. Trying to keep my hair dark was making me look pale and ashy, and every two to three weeks I would see my white roots and it looked messy.

Since I stopped dying my hair has gotten healthier and stronger and I’ve actually grown in more hair. Where my hair parted you could easily see my scalp but not any more.

I also don’t try to tan anymore because the sun gives me dark blotches so my new complexion goes better with the white hair. Luckily I also have the bright white hair. That is why people think I painted it that way. It looks pretty stylish.

I find both men and women seem receptive to my white hair. No one has told me I should keep dying it.
So my point is that I don’t think it is the white that people object to when judging people, but rather how the person seems to care for their hair.
Before doing this, I remember seeing a few women with white hair that I thought was cool because it looked bright and well taken care of along with their appearance.
Its the ones that think, I’m getting old, so their is no point in trying to look good and they are only in their 50’s or 60’s but look like they are 80 or 90. They look messy.

cazzie's avatar

Well, how about this…. we women do all sorts of stuff to our hair with colours and highlights and perms and such. When a guy pays as much attention to his hair it’s considered, ‘gay’.

My grandfather was a barber during the depression. He had one word for when men came in and had their hair cut and styled often: MONEY.

ucme's avatar

Because…& this is uncomfortable, but true, women’s looks/appearance have always been “enhanced” by cosmetics & their hair is part of this package.
Us blokes, traditionally, are exactly what it says on the tin, you know…rough & ready.

ibstubro's avatar

I always find it amusing that the color of male American politician’s hair varies with the political cycle. Especially presidents. When the campaign is on, they usually have a young and vital looking solid head of hair. Once they win, they are allowed a degree of stately grey. Reelection calls for a re-dye.
I’ve noticed this to a degree with all the presidents of my adult live, but I found Clinton’s variations particularly amusing.

janbb's avatar

I just asked a woman today if the woman and man she was with were her son and daughter and they were her partner and their son. Two lessons: never make assumptions and – gray here does make you look older. It is for each woman to decide if that matters to her or not.

Coloma's avatar

I was babysitting a little neighbor girl today who is 8 and we went to the local high school pool for a swim. I had a women about 70ish maybe, ask me what “my girls” name was? haha
Are you kidding me!
I am 55 and as I mentioned above, letting my hair grow out.

I am slightly gray at the temples and there is no way , IMO, that anyone could assume I was this childs mother! Who gives birth at 47 anyway? Wait, don’t answer that. lol
Maybe because this lady was older I looked younger, I do not know.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

So here is an interesting twist. A nephew just posted this on Facebook: The fact is that since the 80s, bad hairstyles are at a record all time high: for example, the gray dye jobs seen on girls today. Evidently old is in, so I’m looking forward to the D.I.Y. collagen crows feet coming to a CVS near you.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Coloma I am slightly gray at the temples and there is no way , IMO, that anyone could assume I was this childs mother! Who gives birth at 47 anyway?
Because some people go Gray early in life, and to be PC you can’t assume Gray means aged these days. With modern science and artificial insemination some women can have kids into their 60s now.

Coloma's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Yes but possibility vs. probability. Possible but not very probable. lol
I am totally opposed to women over 45 tops giving birth.

cazzie's avatar

My mother had me when she was 42. Loads of older moms here in Norway. Why are you totally opposed? @Coloma?

Coloma's avatar

@cazzie Up til mid 40’s not so bad but for health reasons as well as mortality reasons I think having a baby at an advanced age is not ones highest choice. There is no reason in the world a 60 yr. old needs to reproduce and potentially leave their offspring an orphan before they are raised. Nature stops reproductive functions naturally and once that has occurred I think women should just accept their fate. We do not need any more humans born period let alone ones that run a higher than average risk for defects and being orphaned at a young age.

My personal cut off line was 35, a reasonable number IMO.
My mother was 34 when she had me and my dad was 45.

cazzie's avatar

I suppose, @Coloma, with the average poor health and poor access to healthcare in the US, it isn’t unreasonable. Infant mortality in the US is right down there with undeveloped countries. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_infant_mortality_rate

Coloma's avatar

@cazzie My thoughts are more along the lines of personal responsibility and over population rather than infant mortality. The odds of leaving a child an orphan giving birth in ones 60’s are much higher than ones 20,30’s or even early 40’s. That, along with the fact that this planet does not need one more human born at this juncture of critical mass.

Jaxk's avatar

@cazzie – This is a good example of why when liberals enact legislation and it doesn’t work out the way they intended. You go after what you want to be the problem and then try to skew statistics to prove your point. The leading cause of death for children in the US is car accidents. Your trying to fix the wrong problem. Not to mention your overly exaggerated claim that our infant mortality is third world. The average infant mortality world wide is 42 per thousand, we are at 5. Most of Europe is at 3 or 4 with the difference being car accidents (we have about 4 times more car deaths than European countries. As usual your trying to fix the wrong problem. It’s not a health care issue, it’s a traffic issue.

cazzie's avatar

Oh, sorry, I forgot about Wikipedia having such a liberal slant. And I was trying to find mortality during birth, not accidental death years afterward.

Inara27's avatar

While that may be true – the US is about 5 to 6 per 1000 and number 34 on the list. Many of the countries with better “ratings” have proper health care systems, unlike the US.

Even if we assume your argument on the effects of traffic accidents to be true, maternal deaths during childbirth are on the rise in the US, the rate is on par with Saudi Arabia, and greater than in China. The death rate for most countries in Latin America and East Asia is trending downward. In many cases prenatal care could have helped, and due to extreme cost in the US (remember we have FOR PROFIT heath care and insurance industries, so Wall Street wants to take their 10 to 15 percent profit).

On the subject of proper prenatal care, lack of it increases the chance of prenatal infant death by 40%.

The US healthcare system is the most expensive in the world. We may have the one of the best capabilities when it comes to trauma and advanced surgical techniques, but we’re poor on basic services and cost.

From a pure financial stand point, it is cheaper to take care of medical issues before they become critical and require emergency services, which if the person is uninsured is absorbed by the hospital and passed on to those with insurance or the ability to pay. So, should insurance or the government and society pay $50 directly to cover a basic care visit, or risk paying many thousands or tens of thousands indirectly through increased costs to everyone else?

cazzie's avatar

I was looking for maternal deaths as well, but my internet connection is sucky at the moment…. but I remember seeing how bad they were in the US and being quite shocked.

keobooks's avatar

I got kinda lost in this thread. I kinda don’t give a flying fish what @Coloma thinks about what age is appropriate for giving birth, unless we were specifically in a thread about mothers giving birth after 40. If we were in that thread, I’d probably talk about it and I’d somewhat understand how the thread got derailed into talking about life expectancy statistics and the U.S. healthcare system. But even in the older mother thread, I’d probably want someone to steer the topic back to parents having kids at an older age at some point.

Anyway, my grandma dyes her hair at age 90. At 90, she has a set of luxurious brownish red locks. I think it’s silly, but it’s what she likes. Twenty years ago, people would snicker and make snarky remarks to her about her ‘natural’ brown hair. They thought it was hilarious that a woman in her 70s was still dying her hair, trying to pretend it wasn’t going gray. This never did more than slightly irritate my grandmother. She’d say “love my hair? Thank you. I dyed it myself!” I think she loved the look on their face when she said that. Now that she’s 90, she doesn’t get out much to have her obviously dyed hair made fun of.

My mom used to think her mother was so ridiculous for dying her hair like that. She swore to me that she’d never dye her own hair. She was going to be proud and show off her hard earned gray hair. Now she’s in her mid 60s and strangely doesn’t have a single gray hair on her head. And oddly enough, when she stands out in the sun, the light shines right through her hair in a way I’ve never seen happen with natural colored hair. No, of COURSE she’s not dying her hair at all.

I’m in my mid 40s and I have more gray hair than my mother and grandmother combined. My mom always said that the women in her family went gray at a late age. She’s right, because I didn’t get my first gray hair until last year. But I think it’s time for my mom to stop blaming her full head of black hair on genetics. She needs to go natural or develop a sense of humor about it (which will never happen)

Anyway, that’s not totally on topic, but it’s closer that it was. Maybe we can get back to talking about dye jobs. If politics enter the discussion again, it should be along the lines of arguing about whether or not it was really true that Reagan never dyed his hair. Sure, my own dad is in his 60s and he’s barely graying a at the temples, but come on! Reagan was like… 120 or something, right? How did he keep those lovely locks?

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Thanks @keobooks. As the OP, I would prefer that the conversation get back on topic and have new questions spring up from the derails, although they have been discussed before on this site.

As for Reagan, it was surely a dye job. His wife Nancy supposedly confessed that her hairdresser did it. He was 93 when he died. Hopefully, with that well known grin on his face.

So what are your thoughts on the latest trend of young women dyeing their hair grey or adding grey highlights? Here are some images.

keobooks's avatar

That fake gray hair isn’t really my thing. Except for one pic, it wasn’t a really flattering color for anyone’s skin, as far as I could see. That’s not a totally new thing. People in the 80s were getting their hair frosted all the time. I don’t think it was the original intention, but if you didn’t frost your hair correctly, you looked like you were going prematurely gray. I had a bunch of geriatric looking cheerleaders in my graduating class. I can’t find many (or much of any) pics on google because all of the examples shown are of good frost jobs that were probably very expensive to get and maintain. Those look dated, but not so bad. But I swear a bad home frosting kit could age you 40 or 50 years, easily. Lance Bass is the only good pic I found of a frost job gone wrong. But just trust me. There were some lunch tables at my high school class that looked like a gang from a nursing home broke in and set up camp.

It also doesn’t look like natural ‘old people hair’ at all. It may be gray, but natural gray hair is much more coarse and wiry than ‘young’ hair. I’m still in the stage where I can just brush over my gray hair to hide it, but because it’s all coarse and wiry, it doesn’t always want to bend with the rest of my hair. It wants to straighten out and stick out in an annoying way. If you look at pictures of senior citizens, most of them don’t have rich flowing locks. It’s not a matter of of style. For the most part, old hair can’t flow like young hair anymore.

The dyed gray hair doesn’t look old at all. It just looks like an unfortunate color choice to me.

Edited to add: just found the gray Afro curls. No no no no. She looks like a sheep dog,

Coloma's avatar

My apologies for veering off topic for a couple of replies, conversations can segue off now and then, we can also move on without snarky remarks dont’cha think?.
Personally I like some of those gray hair images on some of the younger women, rather unique looking IMO.

keobooks's avatar

Actually ,you weren’t so bad, @Coloma I was just pointing out where the weird shift started. I honestly just glazed over for s few posts and suddenly there were infant mortality statistics flying around and I thought I wandered into the wrong thread when I wasn’t paying attention.

No snark intended- I just didn’t want to confuse everyone by suddenly coming out of nowhere and posting something on topic when the thread was almost killed in a derailment accident. It was more of being at a table with a couple who start arguing and yelling at each other and you’re all…“Ummm… Yeah, well..anyway…”

So umm yeah, anyway… Fake gray hair… Not my thing. Real gray hair, not getting fun yet. I can’t wait until I get a wicked streak going so I can look like Cruella deVille.

Inara27's avatar

I apologize as well. Once the thread gets long, the OP can be forgotten.

ibstubro's avatar

Yet, most of this looks good, even when the facial hair is still dark / obviously a dye job.

keobooks's avatar

@ibstubro I think many of those models have greasy hair. I can’t really judge how I feel about the gray because I’m so distracted by the grease. Has brill cream made a big comeback? Ewww.

ibstubro's avatar

Yeah, @keobooks, current men’s fashion runs to shaving the sides really close and then grow/style the top really big. I like the look if the top isn’t too big or too ‘controlled’. I tried it when the trend first started to catch on, and it’s too high maintenance for a guy (me) that doesn’t own a comb and had to hunt up a brush.
How can you not laugh at this when it doesn’t move? Giggle if you must.

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