I tried to ignore an article about the dangers of going gray in the workplace because I have written about this subject so many times, and I wondered what was left to say. But every time I get on the Internet, I see the article is reprinted yet somewhere else, and I just can't let this idea that gray hair is a career killer continue unchallenged this time around.
While it is a balanced article and showcases a successful female executive with gray hair as well as other great looking silver-haired women, you can't help but read it and question your choices. Nobody wants to take unnecessary risks that could damage their career. The article even makes the point that Anne Kreamer didn't go gray until she left her day job and became self-employed.
This quote really fired me up:
"I don't think a woman in the workplace is going to follow that trend," David Scher, a civil rights attorney in Washington, said with a laugh. "I think women in the workplace are highly pressured to look young. If I were an older working person, the last thing I would do is go gray."
I do agree that appearance matters, but I believe you should focus on looking good not young. I mean, they know how old you are. And if a company really has issues with your age, dying your hair won't make a difference. Age discimination is illegal, of course, but it happens all the time, and it happens to people who dye their hair.
In the picture on the left, I am 50 years old. This was about two years before I quit dying my hair. It's a touched-up photo they did for me at work. I took the photo on the right with my computer camera a couple of days ago. I am 56. Since the first picture was taken, I have been promoted to a leadership position and have no reason to believe I'm on a hit list because I have gray hair. In my work, being a high performer who is willing to relocate if necessary is probably more important than anything else.
Sure, I looked younger in the first picture. I was younger! But I like how age looks on me. I'm wearing a little makeup, dressing better and staying fit. I wore the white jacket this week with a purple knee-length pencil skirt and my coppery flats. The clothes fit me well, but I certainly wasn't sporting the low-cut and super-tight clothes some of the young women like. I asked a trusted and truthful co-worker if I looked frumpy. She said, "No way! You look sophisticated."
Looking sophisticated at work can't be all bad. I like it better than trying to compete with the younger women. It's not a fair fight, and we will lose every single time. My suggestion for a long and happy career is to celebrate who you are and focus on how to be the best you can possibly be in every regard. If dying your hair makes you happy, go for it. But don't do it because it makes somebody else happy.