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Inside: How to respond to rude comments about your gray hair.
My experience going gray has been very positive so far (and I hear that from a lot of other women).
But, let’s face it, at some point during your gray hair transition you are most likely going to run into a person who simply HAS to tell you that you are making a mistake…or that your gray hair makes you look older…or unprofessional.
You need to be ready to handle these types of rude comments about your gray hair. Forewarned is forearmed.
I’m pretty dang good about setting personal boundaries, and I’m addicted to advice columns, so I think that makes me qualified to give you my two cents on how to respond to a gray hair insult.
RUDE GRAY HAIR COMMENTS AND COMEBACKS
Scenario 1: A sweet, elderly relative or friend who has completely lost their filter decides to tell you they don’t like your gray hair:
With these types of people, I just smile brightly and say, “Well, I like it!” and then change the subject.
You’re not going to change this person – they’ve reached that stage in life where they just “have to speak their mind.”
But remember: You don’t have to listen!
Scenario 2: Your parent/sibling/child decides to take it upon themselves to tell you that your gray hair is no good, it makes you look older, and they don’t like it.
If YOU are happy with your grays, you need to set a firm boundary ASAP with these type of “concerned” people: “Well, I like the way I look!”
If they want to keep discussing it, you shut them down with “The topic of my hair is off-limits. As long as I like it, that’s really all that matters.”
If you must, get up and leave the room (or get off the phone call, or whatever). Repeat as necessary until they get the picture.
If you get really angry, you could point out that it’s just hair!
If you were harming your health or losing your moral compass or whatever, then your family would have some standing to butt into to your business a bit.
But it’s your HAIR!! Who the heck cares about somebody else’s hair THAT much that they feel free to butt in?
If my lovely 80+ year-old Mother-in-Law started wearing her hair in dreadlocks, I honestly can’t say it would ever occur to me to talk to her about it.
Now, if she started wearing dreadlocks AND smoking a bong every night, then I might get concerned enough about her abrupt change in personality to bring it up!
Scenario 3: Your boyfriend/husband tells you he doesn’t like it.
OK, now I’m going to go on a little rant, before I present you with my answer.
Being of the Irish-American persuasion, I have a temper. And I’m contrary. I had a boyfriend once tell me he liked it when I wore jeans and suggested I wear them more often. I STOPPED WEARING THEM FOR YEARS!
It icked me out that he was so invested in how I looked. (Now that I think about it, we only dated for a few months but I stopped wearing jeans for about TEN years. That’s how contrary I am).
Anyway, I still hold to the idea that if YOU like your hair, that’s what matters.
And if my husband told me he would not allow me to go gray (which apparently happens (!!)), I’d be zipping along to the divorce court faster than you could say Jack Robinson!
But let’s say you have a nice husband… and he sweetly tells you that he misses your colored hair.
Well, you can be nice about it. Some topics that are off limits with other people are allowed between a couple. You can have a discussion about it but just remember – it’s your hair, and you get to decide what to do with it.
Look at your husband. Does he look the same as he did 20 years ago? Do you ask him to color his hair or wear a toupée? Probably not!
So, the “Well, I like it!” response is a good one for this scenario. And you can also point out to your husband how many thousands of dollars you will save by no longer getting your hair colored every 2-4 weeks!
If you dyed at home, point out that you will no longer stain the bathroom tiles and shower curtain every month.
Scenario 4: A negative comment from a complete stranger (on the sidewalk, at the grocery store, etc.)
Since you don’t know this person, you don’t have to be quite as nice as you do to your relatives and friends, but there’s no need to be completely nasty.
There are a few good advice-column-tested ways to handle this.
The Miss Manners Approach #1: “How Kind of You To Take an Interest in my personal business!”
The Miss Manners Approach #2: Look at the person quizzically and say, “Excuse me, do I know you?”
The Carolyn Hax Approach: “Wow” – and then turn away and refuse to engage
And, of course, you can always go back to #1 – “Well, I like it!” But a stranger might feel free to keep going, so I think setting the firm boundary right away is the best way to handle it.
All of these comments can be said in a nice way. No need to be aggressive!
If you feel like being a wee-bit passive-aggressive, however, buy a bunch of copies of this book and hand them out to the worst offenders. Maybe they’ll learn something!
Have you had a rude comment about your gray hair?
How did you handle it? Please answer below!
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