Thursday, 23 April 2009

Shades of grey

Talk about serendipity. Earlier this evening I had a conversation with my mother about her decision to 'go grey', and then what do I read? A post from Nappy Valley Girl about blonding herself - and how despite the fact that she was not dressed to impress, she still elicited whistles from builders on her way home from the hairdressers...

Just to digress for a moment (it's been a while, cut me some slack), I'm not blonde. Sadly. But I have always thought that if could pop back in time around, oh, 43 years ago, and have a word with the Gene Fairy before my conception, I might put in a bid for some blonde locks. For some reason I always thought that if I had naturally blonde hair, there would be no stopping me. No stopping me at what, is something I'm not sure of however.

In any case, I know what she would have said. Auntie Gene would have laughed outright at me. "Blonde! Blonde? Are you crazy? There hasn't been anyone with properly fair hair in your gene pool for around 400 years! Not since before those pesky Moors got washed up on the Dorset coast and got busy with the local senorita's has there been anyone naturally blonde in your mother's family. And as for your Dad's side, well the Irish potato famine and the exodus to Liverpool put paid to the previously blonde Scottish roots there, so really, Potty, fughedaboudit..."

But anyway, this post wasn't supposed to be about my sad blonde dreams. I'm a brunette, and that's how it's going to stay. Indefinitely. Come hell or high water. Which takes me back to my conversation with Mum.

A bit of background here: my mum was - still is - what they used to call in the '60's 'a looker'. Frankly, 45 years later Dad still can't believe his luck. And to add to her natural good looks, she's got excellent genes (so there is something to thank the fairy for, after all), works hard at the gym, and gets her hair coloured regularly. As a result, she looks at least 10 years younger than she actually is. When I was in my 20's and she was only 23 years older, people usually assumed we were sisters. There is a classic story of how, at a dinner party with my father, she mentioned her mid-20's daughters to another guest, who looked at her intently and asked, very diplomatically "And did you... inherit your children?". So you get the picture. She looks young.

But now, fast approaching 65, she has announced her intention to go grey - or at least to try it out and see how it looks.

It shouldn't be any of my business, I know. It's her hair, not mine. Although let me tell you, whilst I am lucky enough not to be very grey right now, the moment I feel it's getting out of control I will be dealing with that; I will not go quietly into that grey night...

So why do I so desperately want her to keep her coloured hair?

Vanity, vanity, all is vanity. As my non-naturally blonde sister (also fighting the grey to the last stand) pointed out last night, whilst our mum looks young, then so do we. And frankly, I'll take any help I can get in that respect.

Mum, don't do it!


  1. I dyed my hair in my youth, I was a blonde bombshell for about 12 months. My old man has gone grey, and not purchased any of that Just for Men stuff, I think his hair suits him, and he still looks relatively youthful, I call him Ravenelli, after the Italian footballer.

  2. Haven't you seen some of the glam grey haired ladies out there though?
    There is a grandma who picks up from my daughter's nursery and she is so grey and so much more attractive than most of the mums there!
    I say go for it Grandma Potty.

  3. I think grey can look good, actually, on women who are as beautiful as your mum sounds. One of my grandmothers apparently went white at 30 (!) but she was extremely attractive. But I didn't inherit her dark locks, only mouse from my mother's blondish family. Therefore the highlights....

  4. NO! Dont do it Mrs Potty senior. If you look fabulous why are you changing?

    Maybe tweak the colour or hairstyle for a bit of a change? Or buy some new clothes?

    I havent seen a woman yet who looks fab with grey wispy hair. The texture changes when is goes grey - it looks like a wiry brush. Get rid of it.

    Look fabulous and feel fabulous all the time - you deserve to.

  5. I think some women can really carry it off, and if anyone can, your mum can. Plus, think of all the money she can save! ;)

    I know I'm going to have a real dilemma with the grey thing. So far Mother Nature has been kind. In my late 40s I've not got much grey happening. Yet. And I get a kind of warped kick out of never having dyed my hair. (I'm partly serious about the money saving thing!!). But will vanity catch up with me when the grey hits? Quite possibly. Met up recently with a women I knew 20 years ago. She's in her 40s and very grey.. and I think she does look old.

  6. Trying grey isn't a disaster - at least she can always change her mind. Are you sure you don't want her to go grey because it will make her look older to you and therefore more vulnerable? I know everytime I see liver spots on my mother's hands it scares me to be reminded of her age again and her mortality.

    Sorry. Getting all serious here!

  7. My friend's mum has been grey for many years, now, and stopped dying her hair a fair while back. I think she looks amazing. My mum henna's her hair and it's pretty much a dark orangey-red and always has been. One of her sister's does, as well, though the other two gave up many moons ago. Doesn't seem to make a great deal of difference in how old they look. They all pretty much look their age.

  8. One of those posts that I haven't written yet (maybe you've just nudged it to the surface and it'll pop out soon) is about being blonde and having a daughter who is blonde, and how it's not all it's cracked up to be.

    And is it blond or blonde? The spellchecker here doesn't like the e on the end, but surely that's the right spelling? Is that another UK/US spelling difference surprise?

  9. I LOVE the way your Google ads match your post.. that is just toooo cool.

    BM x

  10. SPD, it was with sun-in wasn't it?

    Tara, I know, they are glamorous. But they are still grey...

    NVG, listen, if I had lighter hair then I would do highlights too. But, as you've seen, that would look ridiculous on the colour I actually do have...

    RM, I'm with you on this.

    Tracey, she is thinking of the money... that's one of the reasons she's trying it.

    Mud, you're probably right. But don't we all want our mothers to be immortal?

    Tasha, I'm sure I'm making much too big a deal and she'll look just the same. Will know soon, at any rate!

    Iota, looking forward to reading that. And as for blond(e), I think it's the longer version - but what do I know?

    BM, I think that was the first time. Or at least, the first time anyone noticed!

  11. I'm with Iota, it's not all it's cracked up to be. For starters it can look dirty very quickly indeed!
    As for the gray, my mother was blonde and her gray isn't a vibrant gray so she still puts a teeny bit of blond in. My mother-in-law recently stopped colouring her hair (a dark reddish brown) and it's now completely gray and looks fab. She has really thick hair and it's a steely blend of grays. Best wait and see what your mum's looks like. She might not even like it herself - and you get to see how you might look into the bargain!

  12. Ooh I'm with you. My Mother is also 65 and very beautiful, young-looking, etc. She's beeing dying her hair for years (ever since before we were born I think - and judging by the fact that I got my first grey hair at 8 (yes 8) I thin she's telling the truth). She considered going grey recently but we all persuaded her not to. Think it's just what we're used to. I always hated change!

  13. NO, Don't. Who said only Blondes have all the fun. I am Malaysian and have black hair and life is pretty cool. Put in a few brown streaks once and looked like Herman mosnter's wife. YOur blog has a pretty unique name - potty mummy has many meanings!!

  14. Hmmmm. Well I think it depends on what it looks like. I have two friends who look gab with their grey hair, but I dye mine as I have a few greys now. I'm actually looking forward to grey in some ways as I will have thicker hair. Mine is so fine it's ridiculous. I've decided to be a mad old lady with grey curls, or I might dye them a bit blue. :D

  15. I love changing my hair colour - I think it's great that a £5 box of dye can give you a brand new image. It's only hair, not cosmetic surgery, after all! I'm naturally red but have been blond for the last three months (co-inciding with going back to work - I wonder if there's a connection?)

  16. You're probably worried that if she goes grey she'll look old and then you'll have to admit that she's getting older. That's how I think anyhow because my mom is thinking of doing the same thing someday soon! Yikes! Hey, Octamom (not the one in the US making all that noise, but the one on my Google reader who I have to add to my blogroll) has a photo of her mom all grey and she looks fabulous! It will be fine...I'm sure!

  17. I was blonde for most of my younger life until I decided in my 40's to go red. I love the red - makes my eyes VERY green.

    However - during our trip to New Orleans I just go so fed up with everything I thought I should go as short as possible and let the gray shine through.

    When I told The Man about my idea - his look of horror put a stop to that immediately.

    It's a lot of work to keep the gray at bay and your colour looking fresh. As soon as a small line of roots start to show we all start to panic.

    Guess I'm saying I know what your mom is feeling. However - you never know what a raving beauty she will be with gray hair. Some women are nothing but stunning with their gray hair. I hope mine goes a lovely shade of white. I don't look good in gray at all. :0)

  18. My grandmother is 98 and still dyes her hair and looks amazing at least fifteen years younger if not twenty. It was rather poignant recently when she was in hospital she said it was the first time she hadn't had her hair done by the same hairdresser for 40 years. She asked if he could come in, but the bed was positioned in such a way that she wouldn't have been able to!

  19. EPM, hmm, seeing how I look in the future? Only if I give up the chocolate and do a little more exercise, I think!

    MT, change; it's the devil's work, I agree.

    Kestrel, thanks for commenting, and as for my blog name, well, I must admit I have asked myself more than once why I picked it.

    Jo, not a pink rinse, then?

    More Than, you sound braver than me by far!

    Lisa, yes, you're right of course I'm worried it will make people think I'm older. It's all me, me, me... (cue some good old fashioned Catholic guilt)

    Aims, I'll keep my fingers crossed for you on the white rather than grey hair...

    Kate, thanks for commenting and imagine keeping the same hairdresser for 40 years; now that's customer loyalty!


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