2011-07-18

When Grey Makes You See Red

The Rant

I found my first grey hair when I was 19. Co-incidentally, that’s when I got married. Over the years I have dyed my hair – I freely admit this. Usually it’s close to my natural colour, but a time or two I tried something different . . . like the time I decided to streak it myself and it turned a brassy shade of bronze. Or the time I wanted to see how I’d look as a red-head and it turned more of a burgundy.

The point of this is, I dye my hair by choice. Not because someone tells me to.

This is from an article written on July 12 by Brandon Miller for Sympatico Finance:

According to the Houston Chronicle, a 53-year-old Texas woman was fired for refusing to dye her greying hair. And this, my friends, is ageism and sexism rolled into a fancy little package. But only if that package were stepped on and rubbed in the dirt.

The woman – Sandra Rawline – went grey in her early 20s. In 2009, she was asked by her employer to step up her look – dress a bit younger, wear lots of jewellery and dye her greying hair. When she refused, she was fired within a week and replaced with a younger model ten years her junior.

So, first off, let’s talk about the fact that Ms. Rawline was hired in 2003. If she’s been greying since her 20s and she’s now 53, one would assume that she was hired while sporting grey locks. There’s a bit of inconsistency there, as pressure to look a certain way doesn’t typically set in overnight. But let’s roll with it, because it’s offensive any way you take it.


There’s more to the article and if you’d like to read the whole thing you can do so HERE. I did some digging about this and her hair was indeed grey when she was hired in the first place, so it’s not like she suddenly stopped dying her hair.

I cannot believe any employer would have the audacity to do this. What if she can’t afford new, trendier clothes and jewellery? What if she has an allergy to hair dyes and make-up? And let’s just say she goes along with her employer’s demands, what’s next – liposuction and a boob job?

What kind of world do we live in where an employer can get away with this crap?


Now, a short lesson on why our hair is a certain colour and why it eventually becomes grey.

Each hair follicle contains pigment cells that produce a chemical called melanin. Melanin gives the growing shaft of hair its colour. It also determines our skin colour and whether a person will tan or burn in the sun.

As we age, the pigment cells in our hair follicles gradually die. The fewer the pigment cells, the less melanin and the hair becomes a more transparent colour (silver or white) as it grows.

The age at which greying begins seems almost entirely due to genetics. Sometimes people are born with grey hair because they inherit the trait. From the time a person notices a few gray hairs, it may take more than 10 years for all of that person's hair to turn gray.

Interesting Facts About Hair:

Black hair is more common in men than in women.

A recent study found that blond and red hair are more common in women than in men.

Albinism is a genetic abnormality in which little or no pigment is found in human hair, eyes or skin. The hair is often white or pale blond.

Vitiligo is a patchy loss of hair and skin color that may occur as the result of an auto-immune disease.

Malnutrition is also known to cause hair to become lighter, thinner, and more brittle.

Dark hair may turn reddish or blondish due to the decreased production of melanin. The condition is reversible with proper nutrition.

Werner syndrome and pernicious anemia can also cause premature greying.

A recent study demonstrated that people 50–70 years of age with dark eyebrows but grey hair are significantly more likely to have type II diabetes than those with both grey eyebrows and hair.

A 1996 British Medical Journal study conducted by J.G. Mosley, MD found that tobacco smoking may cause premature greying. Smokers were found to be four times more likely to begin greying prematurely, compared to nonsmokers.

The hair color of mummies or buried bodies can change. Hair contains a mixture of black-brown-yellow eumelanin and red pheomelanin. Eumelanin is less chemically stable than pheomelanin and breaks down faster when oxidized. It is for this reason that Egyptian mummies have reddish hair. The color of hair changes faster under extreme conditions. It changes more slowly under dry oxidizing conditions (such as in burials in sand or in ice) than under wet reducing conditions (such as burials in wood or plaster coffins).

1 comment:

Jamie (Mithril Wisdom) said...

That's so harsh. I hope the employer gets what's coming to them.

Good point about hair in mummies. One of my favourite discoveries is when archaeologists found that Rammeses II's mummy had red hair, and this sparked off a number of conclusions about his ethnic origin and political motives etc. THen a few years later it was discovered that the red dye was an unexpected result of the mummification process. Silly archaeologists :P