I shall wear purple


I have grey hair!

Last time I went for a haircut, I had about two grey hairs on the right temple. Now I’m quite distinctly going salt ‘n’ pepper at the temples, if you look closely. I have half a dozen or so silver hairs on each side.

Thus passes my first step on the journey towards cronehood. Awesome!

[Image: Wikimedia Commons]

When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple

with a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.

And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves

and satin candles, and say we’ve no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired

and gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells

and run my stick along the public railings

and make up for the sobriety of my youth.

I shall go out in my slippers in the rain

and pick the flowers in other people’s gardens

and learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat

and eat three pounds of sausages at a go

or only bread and pickles for a week

and hoard pens and pencils and beer nuts and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry

and pay our rent and not swear in the street

and set a good example for the children.

We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?

So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised

When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

[poem: “Warning”, by Jenny Joseph]

Categories: gender & feminism


14 replies

  1. Congratulations on your proud graying!

    Love that image. Maiden mother crone?

  2. Congrats, lauredhel!
    When I was younger I always swore that once I started to go grey, I’d bleach and dye my entire head to match (and I still love the way most people go grey, with salted temples to start. V. aesthetically pleasing, to my mind).
    Will you be procuring a new, purple outfit in honour of the occasion?

  3. Congratulations! And thanks for finding the Jenny Joseph poem for us. It’s one that keeps attracting take-down notices, possibly because it’s been quoted too many times without attribution.
    Jonathan Shaws last blog post..Swarmin’

  4. Maybe I need to get more excited than frustrated about my finding of my first white hair this morning 😦 At twenty-six, I was hoping to hold out a little longer! Sounds like I might need a purple outfit to cheer me up 🙂

  5. I knew cronedom had really arrived when my lower hairs started greying 🙂
    When I cut my hair short a few years ago and vowed never to dye again, at the age of 39, a few of my friends protested that I was ‘letting the side down’ and that I would make them look old if we went out together. I thought that was a bit rich, since I never do go out anywhere hip with them (movies and parks don’t count) and I also think I personally look much better being natural than when I try to keep up with the re-dying, being a bit slack in that arena.
    I like women with funky coloured hair, but I think you get to a point where even a week after dyeing, the natural hair shows through, and as a tallish woman, I can see a lot more of the tops of women’s hair than they realise, and believe me, it shows very quickly.
    I love the sense of silvering slowly and naturally, and the way the different shades in my hair catch the sunlight. I don’t think I’m ‘letting the side down’; in fact I think I’m joining a different team, gladly. Welcome to the team!

  6. heh — *re-dyeing*. I do like reincarnation, it’s also hard to keep up with!

  7. A couple of years ago I ran into a large group of gray-haired ladies in front of the Palm Spring Follies Theatre*. They were immediately striking because they were all wearing purple outfits and red hats. I later asked my mom what the deal was and she sent me the poem and told me about the Red Hat Society inspired by it. I love it, along with my own gray hairs.
    * The Follies is a vaudeville-style show in which the show “girls” are all age 55+.

  8. Congratulations! It’s so great that you are positive about it – I wasn’t when I got my first greys (in my late 20’s) and straight out came the hair dye, and the tedium of having to top it up every month *yawn*. I have only just this year decided to accept my grey, which there is quite a lot of now (I’m 36) – so around March I went to the hairdresser and got them to chop all the dye off, which left me with very short hair, but it’s so much better for being it’s natural colour(s)
    I’m so pleased for you that you can accept them right from the start. I tend not to think of them as white hairs, but as wise hairs. I know that’s really corny, but you earned them, you know, it’s like wrinkles when you get them. I also read an article once that called them moon hairs, beautiful strands of silver, which I thought was pretty cool.

  9. I got my first grey hair at 21 – just one, and I kept it at just one until these past few months, when I am nearly twice that age. I decided that that one hair meant I was an old soul.
    No wrinkles to speak of yet. I stay out of the sun and never snmoked, so maybe it’ll be a while.
    And I… seem to have an awful lot of purple clothing already, so I haven’t yet made any plans to shop!

  10. Ampersand Duck, I hear ya – I can’t stand the way regrowth looks. I’ve never dyed my hair, ever, because I like my natural colour (a very dark brown) and I absolutely can’t be bothered. I used to say a few years ago that when I went grey I would start to dye it then and perhaps do it purple or something else interesting.
    However, I’ve kinda changed my mind. I read an article a year or two ago which pointed out that women of all ages dye their hair now – and a lot go grey much earlier than we might think, we’re just all dyeing our hair. I know one girl who’s 28 who’s completely grey, one of my friends is 30 and has fantastic streaky silver throughout black hair. My mum’s only gone grey in the last few years, but she’s just let it go naturally and it looks really great on her.
    So yay for natural hair colour!

  11. Oh Lauredhel, the jealousy burns! My maternal relatives kept their original colours well into their 60s and 70s, so I have a while to wait. When fudge decided to cut their dye range to red, red, red, red, red, red, red, pink, pink, and yellow, I decided it was time to go grey. Do you think I could I find any dye?

  12. My hair’s been greying for a while now. I don’t have the temple-streaks happening, just scattered silver hairs all over, gradually displacing the mid-brown hair. The only time I’ve ever dyed my hair was just after I shaved it all for a charity fundraiser. I was bright platinum blond for a short while, and hated the regrowth. Thank goodness that’s over.
    I took a shot of my grey hairs earlier this year:

  13. If you’re really getting into it, this is a good site completely dedicated to grey hair!

  14. Oh, that poem. *sighs with happiness*
    We have a Ragin’ Grannies group here in Halifax, and last time they were out all I could think of was that poem. (I am in love with her hat. Can I get away with wearing that at 32, do you think?)

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