The Gray Project

Photographer/Writer Collaboration: Women who believe that not only isn't gray hair the end of the world, handled properly it can be really exciting

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Young and Vibrant ... with gray hair

Amali’s story is little different than some of the other people we’ve interviewed. She says she’s definitely “taken the plunge.” Her formerly dyed red hair is now heavily highlighted to a more strawberry blondish color with about 1-1 1/2 inches of platinum/white/whatever you want to call it hair.

She says that so far it is not quite as disturbing as she thought it would be. She plans to do more highlighting and possibly go for a shorter cut later. She would love to see Maryanne’s pictures. [My plan for this evening is to get both these stories posted!]

Amali was a little younger than most when she found her first white hair. She was 16 and started her dalliance with the hair-coloring bottle at 19. At that point the predominate “color of her hair (not counting white hairs) was a strawberry blondish/brownish color.” Her affair began with an auburn/red color.

Today her hair is heavily highlighted with varying shades of blonde and strawberry blonde and my roots are whitish/platinum/grayish? She says she finds it difficult to nail it down to just one "color". How may of us are familiar with that story??

She’s gotten very tired of the time and monetary investment needed to maintain the color – hmmm. And, she’s concerned about a health issue that was rarely raised in the past. She and her husband are planning on starting a family in the next couple of years - and she really doesn't want to dye her hair while pregnant.

Now, regular readers of this blog may recall some comments from another reader from San Antonio who has encountered much negative feedback as a result of her gray hair. Amali is from the same city but has gotten a different reaction. Her family is very supportive. She says that a few friends can't quite fathom how her transformation is going to turn out but are supportive nonetheless. She notes that many of her co-workers have said, "Oh, you're going blonde?"
Some people we’ve talked to in the past indicated that they have continued to color their hair because of professional considerations. Amali is starting a new job. She had been planning the "big hair transition" for some time and says she made sure to have her new highlighted look before her first job interview.

Her realistic outlook –other than her hair the rest of her dress and appearance reflects her chronological age – is refreshing and we’re sure no one will mistake her for a senior citizen any time soon. Contrary to others, she indicates that being in the workplace has not influenced her decision to stop coloring her hair.

We hope to follow her progress.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Yikes - I've been negligent

Traveling for work, getting my daughter off to college and a few other work-related issues have gotten me off track - but only temporarily. Hopefully after this week, things will return to normal (whatever that is!)

We have two new stories coming - about friends who've taken the plunge. Amali has a unique perspective and my good friend Maryanne went all the way - I mean it - so check back in a few days, and I'll have their stories posted.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

G Is for Gray

Mystery writer Sue Grafton may think that G Is for Gumshoe, but we don't necessarily agree. You all know what we think it should stand for.

I was in a bookstore recently browsing through the mystery section when I stumbled across Ms. Grafton's alphabet series. What was different this time - at least for me - is that I was a little behind on reading her fine series and ended up picking up a few of her books to try and determine which was the last one I had read.

As I looked through the last few, I noticed that the photos on the back covers. First, they were not taken by Fran - but I guess, there are other good photographers in the world and so, I got passed that and looked at the pictures. As the series progressed, the author's hair got a little grayer - and she left it that way. And, it looked great! But, don't take my word for it. The next time you are in a bookstore, check out her books and see for yourself.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

What happened to L'Oreal's Gray Chic??

Several years ago - with a lot of fanfare - L'Oreal introduced s line of products for women with gray hair. The line was called Gray Chic. Finding it, including on L'Oreals' website, is impossible (at least for us). Does anyone have any information?

We do not appear to be alone in our search. Here's an inquiry posted from another searching women.


Here's an article - a few years old - that shows women have been proudly going gray for a few years now. Take a

Gray Haired Models Gain Acceptance

Everyone else may be having a lazy slow summer, but we've been on the road - Fran at a thimble convention and Mary taking her daughter to college and then off for two business trips. While we were away we heard some encouraging news for our gray haired enthusiasts (not for our publishing project, alas).

Amali writes to tell us that "the September 2004 issue of REAL SIMPLE has a very nice photo spread featuring a lovely silver haired model starting on page 230."

Kudos to REAL SIMPLE and a big thanks for Amali for keeping us in the loop. We hope to have more examples from broad minded publications in the future.


Saturday, August 14, 2004

Are we going to reveal which publishers passed on our project?

In a word - NO.

Why not? For several reasons. Mostly it's just not our style. We try and follow the you-can-catch-more-flies-with-honey-than-you-can-with-vinegar approach to publishing - especially since everyone has been so encouraging about the project.

We don't want to antagonize any potential book buyers either. Some (hopefully many) of the editors and agents who turned our project down may ultimately buy the book when it is published.

Besides, what if one of the publishers who passed changes their mind? It happens. The first book Mary every wrote was ultimately published by a company that had flat out rejected the proposal using a Xerox form that was barely legible.

So, while we thank all those who have written to suggest that we list all the publishers who have turned us down, we are not going to do that - but we thank you for your support and good wishes.

Rejection - AGAIN!

Yup - another publisher passed on us - but with very kind words (which is not always the way in the publishing world). Here's what they told us:

"It looks like a very interesting project. As a small regional publisher,however, I don't think we're the most appropriate for a book of this kind.Our books are distributed regionally only, and it looks like this is a project with broader appeal. I wish you the best with it and look forward to seeing gray-haired women on the bookstore shelves soon!"

YIKES! We agree that the project has broader appeal - but are still searching for that publisher who shares our vision - so onward we trek.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Women in Burlington VT

I just spent a few days in Burlington VT with my daughter who will be attending the University of Vermont in the fall. I was immediately struck by the number of women who left their hair alone once it turned gray.

The concentration of women who would make good subjects for our book excited me as did the prospect of combining a trip to see my daughter with a few interviews. If you are a women with gray hair and strong opinions and live in Burlington or the surrounding area (or know someone who fits this description) please contact us at - we'd love to hear from you.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Trying to put an international spin on things

As you may have noticed, most of our participants come from the US - in fact, we have a high concentration on the east coast - probably because that's where we live. This does not mean that we don't want others. In fact we do. I thought I had found the perfect opportunity to add some real international flavor to our project.

My son is currently doing some graduate work in South Africa. I sent him an e-mail explaining our blog, asking him to give our information to any women he might see who might be interested in our blog. Here's what he wrote back:

" I will not be mentioning your book to any gray ladies. 'Say you've got gray hair, my mom thinks you should check out this web page.' Yeah that'll make me a popular one. Remember when I was little and I asked great grandma how it felt to have white/yellow hair? Then I asked grandma how it felt to be fat. I am still the same charmer today."

At least today he realizes that he might be sticking his foot down his throat. I wrote back and explained how he could broach this topic tactfully. His reply "will run down gray haired women when I see them. I warn that you are responsible for all litigation, fines and possible imprisonment that results from this." And, if you saw his driving, you'd know that run down was an apt choice of words.

Hopefully, we'll hear from some women from South Africa without my son running into any problems - but I'm not holding my breathe.


Taking The First Step

In a recent post, Amali asked how she could gracefully go from coloring her hair to not. Here are a few techniques used by some of the women we spoke with:

1) Start using a temporary dye and gradually just stop. To be perfectly honest, this technique works best with lighter colored hair. Temporary dyes tend to leave some residue - thus for dark hair this may not be a great approach.

2) Start layering in the gray. This is the approach recommended by my hairdresser. She suggests highlighting the hair with the dye to simulate what would happen naturally if one never colored their hair. While emulating Mother Nature, this could take as long as a year.

3) Just stop - although few would call this approach graceful. One of the women we interviewed took this approach and she referred to the six months it took for the transformation to be completed as "UGLY." My good friend from high school, Maryanne B. , is taking this approach right now and we are documenting it. It will probably work well for her as she has thick hair that grows quickly and she wears it short.

4) Those with long hair might emulate Maria. (Hopefully Fran will post a picture shortly that we can link to.) We found Maria through one of her real estate adds. I saw it and sent her a message and she graciously agreed to be included. To make a long story short - probably a first for me - Maria had her long hair layered and then let the gray grow in naturally. Again this worked well because her hair grows quickly. Despite this, she says it took two years and many visits to the beauty salon for the transformation to be complete.

5) Take a look at an earlier posting regarding one savvy Canadien.

I hope this provides Amali with some information. We'd love to hear from others who have made the transformation - either through a post here or e-mail to