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Faith Matters

Real men don't color their hair
Scripps Howard News Service


May 04, 2005

I'm male. I'm white. I'm over 40. Unless they're selling pickup trucks or beer, Madison Avenue marketeers could care less about my consumer buying habits.

Or so I thought. The other day I was walking through the mall and one of those clipboard-toting survey takers actually stopped me and asked if I had 10 minutes.

Wow, I thought. Maybe there is a consumer demographic for me. Unfortunately, I was right.

"How old are you?" she asked.


"Which of these statements most applies to you?" she began. "My gray hair bothers me, but I'd never do anything about it. My gray hair bothers me, but I haven't done anything about it. My gray hair ..."

My gray hair! What gray hair? I've got a nearly full head of thinning dark brown hair and a very short dark brown beard.

OK. The hair at my temples is beginning to lighten some. And the hair on my chin is beginning to whiten some - well, quite a bit. I could do one of those "Got Milk?" ads, but it would look like the milk was dribbling down my chin.

Still, I wouldn't classify myself as a graybeard. Apparently, Miss Survey would.

She asked a few more presumptuous questions. Then she asked me to watch a series of short TV commercials on an array of products apparently being marketed to middle-aged, middle-class white men: toothpaste, coffee, old-fashioned lemonade, throwback sports jerseys and hair dye.

Some of the commercials were good. Others were goofy, especially the hair-dye commercial that showed happy dark-haired men enjoying a gray-free life. I won't say the name of the product, but it's a hair dye just for men.

"What do you remember about it?"

The men in the commercial were too young to have had gray hair. Heck, they were too young to shave.

"What did you like about it?

The women were attractive. They also were too young to have had gray hair.

"What did you dislike about it?"

Our idolatrous and impudent worship of youth culture.



"Do you think getting rid of your gray hair will make you more attractive to women?"

Would you ask Richard Gere that question?

"Does gray hair put men at a disadvantage over other men?"

Would you ask President Bush that question?

"What was the overall message you got from the commercial?"

Get rid of the gray or get ready for the retirement home.

Fortunately, that was the last question. She thanked me for my time. I took my $5, grabbed my walking cane and left to go buy some lemonade.

When did gray/silver/white hair become a Vanityville Horror? Why are we so afraid of it?

I've known bearded men who suddenly started shaving at the first sign of snow. I've known men who prefer shiny, bald heads to white-haired ones.

What's wrong with showing your age, America?

Age brings experience, patience, stability, strength of character, stronger stock portfolios and wisdom. Young men should be dyeing their hair Richard Gere Gray or their beards Sean Connery Silver.

Real men don't color their hair.

It might be cosmetically possible to look younger, but it's biologically impossible to grow younger. Every day you get a day older, regardless of how you color, cover, inject, implant, nip or tuck yourself.

So get over it. Go with it. Grow and show the hair God gave you.


Columnist David Waters may be reached by e-mail at waters(at)
or by mail at The Commercial Appeal, P.O. Box 334, Memphis, TN 38101

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