Going Grey Gracefully: is it time to get off the hair dye hurdy-gurdy?

Have you given much thought to “going grey gracefully”? Since finding my first grey hair in my early twenties, I’ve been battling with the will-I-won’t-I question of going grey. On my wedding day, only three years ago, I wore my hair up and unashamedly let my silver threads shine through; yet when attending a few weddings as a guest since then, each time I’ve felt the need to hide my greys to preserve this illusion of being still in my twenties.

Just lately, I’ve noticed quite a few women who are, by all appearances, quite youthful…but whose true age was given away by an inch of regrowth. Each time I recoiled a little, thinking, yuck, I don’t want to end up being that woman. I knew I had to make the choice soon, before it became even harder to cease and desist; because once you colour your greys, the only way they’re going to become all grey again is to go cold-turkey and let them grow out.

Then I remembered catching up with a friend a few months ago, and being both surprised and delighted to see that her thick, dark hair was streaked with silver, and I asked her about it. Only a year or two older than I am, she had decided to stop colouring completely, and wore her hair in an elegant, natural style that complemented her casual-chic look. I was so impressed, and knew that if she could do it, so could I.

So I went online to do a bit of research on the topic, and it turns out that it is becoming de rigueur to go grey gracefully, albeit that this is more often the case for women in their forties and beyond. As I hunted through page after page of women much older than myself, I finally came upon this inspirational story of stunning fashion designer Maayan Zilberman, who embraced going grey at an earlier age than many others might. I am fortunate, in that I work in an industry which is perhaps more forgiving of a woman who chooses to adopt a more natural option. Also, I think there is more tolerance in the country than in the city; but, having said that, Maayan Zilberman couldn’t be a better model for anyone who thinks you can’t be grey, beautiful, and stylish in the fickle world of fashion.

So I think it’s time for me to start practising for becoming a “silver fox”, and embrace the reality of who I am, instead of prolonging the agony of pretense. And later, when I’ve turned completely silver, I can choose to have a bit of fun with some crazy colours once again.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this – please do leave your comments below.

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An E-type in the mirror

“Looks like we got a tail”, he said, motioning towards the rear view mirror with his eyes.

She leaned forward and took a steady look in her side mirror. “Mmhmm. That the E-type we saw back a-ways?”

“Yep.”

“Gonna try and shake him?”

“Nope.”

“Good”, she said, and took her camera from her bag, aiming it at the reflected Jag.

This photo was taken on one of only a few occasions where I’ve wished I had the benefit of my DSLR’s manual focus ring – holding the camera steady while trying to get the car in the mirror even vaguely in focus was an exercise in frustration.

La Petite Mort

Photograph by Kat Philcox Photography

I watched a lot of old movies when I was a kid, and just adored the graphic world of black and white cinematography; when I grew up, I wanted to look like those beautiful, remote, magnificent women. Then when I grew up, I realised that they don’t really exist, that they are a confection of the studio; still, I longed to be portrayed as a femme fatale at least once. My big opportunity was the photo shoot with Kat Philcox, and we worked with a black backdrop much of the time.

While I was putting together the photo book (see previous post), this photo led me to do a little creative writing, limited only by the amount of space on the page. Before I knew it, I had written a film noiresque scene, inspired by such movies as The Big Sleep. I picture “him” as a Private Investigator in the style of Humphrey Bogart’s Philip Marlowe.

 

LA PETITE MORT

He surveyed the room: signs of a struggle were evident, from the overturned boudoir chair, to the crooked lampshade, and a shattered vase of Stargazer lilies, strewn across the floor. Then there was the body of a girl, supine on a rug beside the bed.

Sniffing the air, he decoded the smell – a strangely intoxicating blend of Bourbon whiskey, sweat, and lilies, with a faint underlying odour of something bad. He shuddered – he hated the smell of lilies and the memories they brought flooding back.

Apprehensively, he walked towards her body, noting her disheveled clothing. When he saw her stillness, and her glazed eyes, he froze. “Get a grip”, he urged himself, looking away for a moment to refocus. Dropping to his knee, he put his ear close to her mouth, and heard her slow breath. So, not dead. Then…what? A seizure? Pondering this development, he slowly came to the realisation that she was under the spell of ‘the little death’. “Well that’s just swell”, he mumbled cynically, moving away to upright the chair and wait for her full recovery.

 

36: the perfect age of a woman

*Photographs by Kat Philcox Photography

A lot of photographers hide their shyness behind the camera, and are often quite unused to having their own picture taken – even if we may sometimes take self-portraits in the desire to record a version of ourselves with which we can be content. 

Since reaching my thirties, I have set milestones that I could look forward to. It may seem a little morbid, but so far these have related to amazing people who died at a particular age; I don’t know why, but the first milestone was 33, the age at which Jesus Christ is believed to have died.

Then as 33 turned, happily, to 34, I set my sights on 36: the age that Marilyn Monroe was when she died. At 35, I read that 36 was considered to be the perfect, golden, ageless age of a woman. With this in mind, I decided that when I was 36, I would pose nude for a photo shoot – something which the inimitable MM also did, only six weeks before her death.

Having agreed to be my photographer, in September 2012 close friend Kat of Kat Philcox Photography took me into her studio for a couple of hours, both of us somewhat apprehensive about this new experience. Like me, Kat is not very comfortable having her photo taken, so I knew she would understand my trepidation. After a few preparations were made, we began working on clothed shots until we were both comfortable enough for me to begin to shed my clothes. Most of the photos were taken without my glasses on – a rare experience, and one which turned out to be quite helpful: having Kat removed from my focus (and therefore my personal space, even when she was quite close) allowed me to be less inhibited. The shoot was an extraordinary experience, one which I was delighted to share with her.

My original vision was to have a collection reminiscent of classic Film Noir, and those surreally perfect images of the silver screen sirens.Although clients rarely have the opportunity to do so, Kat generously provided me with a disc of (largely) unedited photos so that I could edit them myself. As much as I had enjoyed seeing the “teaser” photos from the shoot, it was not until I began editing that I really felt connected to them – almost as though I had been the photographer of another subject – and I felt privileged to have this opportunity.

I am very pleased with how they turned out, and now have a visual reminder of this time of my life to look back upon in years to come. Initially unsure what to actually do with my photos – many of them are a little unsuited to being hung upon my walls! – I decided to make a book, using the free software from Blurb, which I have used several times in the past few years. The image above is from the front cover; the one below is on the back cover. Maybe sometime I’ll share what’s between the sheets!

Having turned 37 shortly after the shoot took place, it is time again to set my sights upon another milestone age – and to devise a way to commemorate it.

Car Panel Paintings: reflecting the landscape

Many photographers enjoy capturing reflected images; years ago, when I first got my 35mm SLR, my partner taught me to see reflections in street puddles, something which I had never actually registered despite being a user of shop windows for parking on the street. Since then, I have always noticed looking-glass puddles.

Then, when I got my first dark car, I started to notice how beautifully the paintwork reflected the landscape, and took a few shots over the years that way.

Yesterday, travelling back in my second dark car from seeing Cake play in Adelaide, we stopped to break the drive, and while I was ogling the lines of my car like a lovesick teen, I noticed she made a nice “panel painting”, so I went to work. 

And then I noticed the tree alongside had been carved by travellers, breaking their drive just as we had. Mister Magpie was scrounging around in the background.

And then I noticed my car alongside the tree, and my focus returned to her. Gawd, I’m so predictable.

Journey Lines in Ta Moko: traditional Maori tattoo art

While I’m on the subject of tattoos, recently My Good Man’s sister and her husband travelled to New Zealand where they celebrated their wedding anniversary by getting traditional Maori tattoos. The tattoos were designed and inked by Te Rangitu Netana, Maori Tattoo Artist of Ngapuhi, Ngati Wai and Te Arawa tribal descent, and while their tattoos are complementary, and similar in placement and general design, each tells their own very individual story, and embodies who they are and the journey they are on.

Skin Deep: street photography in Gawler

Street photography is an artform I really admire and enjoy, and follow a few blogs with really strong images, including Wim Van Gestel, A Walk With My Camera, Antonio Marques, Klara’s Street, and Spool by Spool. But I am such a coward when it comes to aiming even a small camera in someone’s direction.

When I was waiting for My Good Man in the main street of Gawler a couple of days ago, I spotted this lovely tattooed girl on a poster advertising “Skin Deep”, a Tattoo Club of Australia tattoo show, and knew she wouldn’t mind a bit if I took her photo.