Like many an ageing woman, I’ve had to face the grim reality of greying hair. My plan had been to go grey gracefully. However, as the grey invaded, my resolve faltered and it did not take long to succumb to peer pressure. My friends are worshippers at the altar of straight, blonde hair. Even brunettes take the opportunity to become blondes.

So I, too, began to color my hair. Twelve years later I finally decided to opt out. I’d watched the harsh chemicals parch my hair and resented the time and cost.

To navigate growing out my gray hair, I chose a very short cut to minimize the glaring “skunk” line that would inevitably occur as the roots appeared…

Knowing that my demographic were scathingly critical of grey hair and in love with blonde, I hit upon the idea of being part of the ageing blonde brigade by using wigs. Wigs are rather taboo in my world and it felt like a daring leap for me.

Fran Black

I found a lady who would visit my home with a suitcase of wigs. I decided this was the way to make my first purchase as I wanted my husband’s input and dragging him to a wig shop might be stretching the friendship. Trying on wigs in different styles and color was such fun that I toyed with the idea of throwing a wig party. Once I got the hang of buying wigs, I made subsequent purchases in shops.

I was nervous the first time I went to a party wearing a beautiful blonde wig. I felt self-conscious, wondering if the wig looked obvious and how people would react. But it was a great hit. People loved my new hairstyle and had no idea it wasn’t my own hair. Although once they realize I’m wearing a wig, they often say it is very obvious, as though they are embarrassed at my having duped them.

My friends’ comments alternate between being quite convinced that I have made myself look older and less attractive by not using dye and hence wigs are good, or else believing that grey hair suits me but would not suit them. I wonder if they feel I am cheating as they diligently labour to color their hair, spending money and time to achieve their desirable locks. Quite a few men comment favourably on the grey and others love the wigs. I get way more hair comments wearing a wig.

I enjoy watching how new people react to me. I seem to be viewed as younger with the wigs. When I was decked out in my blonde bob, aged 62, a thirty something man approached me in a pub.

Fran Black

Wearing a blonde wig was like becoming another person; at times I feel as if I am in a play or movie. It is so much fun and so liberating, that I soon blossomed into other colours. I now have four wigs that I wear occasionally when I’m in the mood. My decision is affected by whom I will see and where I will be. I feel so good wearing a wig that now often forget that I am wearing one.

The experience of adding wigs to my wardrobe has made me more confident and added to my pleasure in life. I feel more in control. I see it, in part, as an antidote to bad hair days. I always pack one for travelling but don’t always wear it. I attend language schools around the world and if I join my young class-mates to party, I always wear one and they seem to love it.

I rather hoped that when I started I might set a trend. Watching how everyone else tries so desperately to change their hair colour and degree of curl, I wrongly thought they would be delighted when they saw my easy solution. That was not the case. I have, however, converted a few to abandoning dyes and embracing their gray hair.


The best part is that my very dear husband insists that my gray hair is my most attractive look!

Fran Black

—Fran Black

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