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To Go Gray or Not, That is the Question

Where are you on the issue of going gray? Are you firmly for, against, or ambivalent?

Before Me, My Hair and I came out, I thought the most risqué piece in the book was Alex Kuczynski's "And Be Sure to Tell Your Mother," about, well, pubic hair. But once it came out and the New York Post interviewed contributor Anne Kreamer on her decision some years ago to go gray, I realized this was a much more fraught issue than I'd imagined.  It has to do whether whether we're going to age naturally or intervene in the process - and what the costs of each decision are, financially, emotionally, and culturally.

My own story: my essay in the anthology is called, "No, I Won't Go Gray," but soon after the book went into final production, I changed my mind. My hair dresser mistakenly dyed my hair black - it had been a soft brown, close to the original - and after a few weeks of trying to live with it, I decided I couldn't bear to go through what's necessary to get it back to brown - months of highlights, aluminum foil in the hair, money and time - and I decided to take the going gray challenge.

Ten months later, there's a bunch of gray and still some brown. And I'm still not sure where I'm going or my hair is going, but I'm OK with not knowing. With waiting to see. With giving up the need I felt to color. And I've been heartened by all the Pro-Gray women who've posted on various sites.

Here's an abridged version of my essay in the book from Huffington Post, "No, I Won't Go Gray."

Visit the book's Facebook page and share your Pro-Gray/Con-Gray story, and/or send it to me in an email, to ElizabethBenedictOK@gmail.com, and I'll write up the results. Best if your story is 250 words or less.  (Please note the OK after my name in the email.)

And if all this talk of hair makes you anxious, you're not alone.

If you're curious about the book, read us in paperback, on Kindle, Nook, or your favorite ebook platform. And follow us on Twitter: @HairBookEliz


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Great Silver Hair Story from a Reader

I was delighted to receive this story from a reader in response to my call for stories about going gray, or as we say around here, silver. Got one you want on this blog? It can be with or without your name - entirely your choice. Email me at info@ElizabethBenedict.com and I'll consider it. 

In the meantime, here's one I really identify with - especially all the ambivalence - should I, shouldn't I? Thanks for sharing with us!


"I am a 37 year old brunette who has never colored my hair. Prior to having any grays, I never thought my hair was my best feature, so I didn’t want to spend the time/money in the salon coloring it. It simply wasn’t a big deal to me.
"As a few silver strands started showing up like obnoxious runway lights in an otherwise calm night,  I thought, “hmm.” About that time, a (male) colleague of mine gave me Anne Kreamer’s book [Going Gray]. Upon reading it, I resolutely decided to not color my hair and wrote her a fan letter (my first. She responded!…

Our Mothers' Gifts in Quarantine

In honor of Mother's Day this year, I invited the contributors to my anthology,What My Mother Gave Me: 31 Women on the Gifts That Mattered Most, which came out in 2013, to think about any gifts from their mothers that are helping them get through the COVID-19 pandemic. It's a time when, for the most part, people cannot visit with their families, and when those of us whose mothers are gone may be missing them more acutely because of how unsettled the world is. Four contributors to the anthology have contributed thoughts. I'm honored to present them here. For myself, I think about my mother's incredible kindness, her generosity of spirit and love of people. I try to practice the first two and feel comforted by the last and try to comfort others as we all stumble through this terrible time.
To purchase the book, please visit the Algonquin/Workman website before May 25th for a 20% discount. At check-out, enter the code MOTHERSDAY20 -- and voilà.

Cheryl …

"This Glowing Collection of Essays...."

BOOK PAGE just published a wonderful review of Me, My Hair and I.  A taste from the beginning:

“Gorgeous hair is the best revenge,” said Ivana Trump, she of the platinum blonde, sky-high hair. Hair as tool of revenge, as obsession, as embarrassment, as source of pride: Why does a long string of protein absorb so much of our attention?"

and the end:


"Thought-provoking and insightful, Me, My Hair, and I is a must-read for anyone who has ever dealt with frizz, gray hair, mothers insisting we get a haircut, fathers insisting we not, hair envy or hair disasters. In short, all of us." READ MORE Reviewer Amy Scribner mentions essays by contributors Suleika Jaouad, Alex Kuczynski, Hallie Ephron, Jane Green, Jane Smiley, Adriana Trigiani, and Anne Lamott.