MAUD LAAVIN OF THE Chicago Tribune wrote this review about my bookGoing Gray, What I Learned about Beauty, Sex, Work, Motherhood, Authenticity, and Everything Else That Matters:
“To read Anne Kreamer’s “Going Gray” is to enjoy that comfortable illusion that you are chatting with a friend. A friend whose confidences are told in a way that’s concise, entertaining and thoughtful.
“Going Gray” is Kreamer’s first book. It developed from a feature she did for More magazine about the process, when she was 49, of letting her hair grow out to show her natural gray after diligently dyeing it from age 25. This visible graying may seem like small potatoes, and she has the grace to acknowledge there are larger issues in life. But Kreamer skillfully uses that experience and its anxieties to explore thoughts about aging and femininity, and these are, of course, the memoir’s real hook.
Kreamer also takes an almost girlish, Nancy-Drew-detective approach to examining what other women — and some men — think about the cultural pressures and self-images that connect to dyeing hair, especially for midlifers. Although happily married, she wrote an Internet dating profile for herself pretending to be divorced and put it, along with a photograph of herself, on Match.com. At times she used one with dyed hair and at others one with gray locks, to compare how many responses she got. Those of you who, like me, already have a happy vanity about the lively gray streaks in your hair, will be pleased to know she got more approaches with her natural gray look. In addition, Kreamer hired a data-gathering business to conduct a national survey to learn more about attitudes toward graying.
For the reader interested in cultural shifts in attitudes toward women and aging, some of the most thought-provoking parts of Kreamer’s book are the contextual and historical perspectives she gives. She notes that fewer than 10 percent of American women colored their hair in the 1950s, compared with a reported 40 to 75 percent today. And her observation on the potential parallel between that statistical growth and a likely increase in women’s involvement with plastic surgery is a cogent one:
“In the national survey I conducted for this book, of four hundred women, average age forty-nine, 15 percent reported having had cosmetic injections or surgery — probably about the same percentage of middle-aged women who, back in the ’50s when the artificial-coloring boom began, dyed their hair. . . . Extrapolate the trend line, double the available technologies, and imagine the choices and pressures our great-grandchildren may face.” (Maud Levin’s complete review.)
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