While I’m typing this blog post, there is black dye in my hair. Twenty more minutes to go, then I can wash it out. The grey hairs that stick together in the front of my hairdo will be black again. And I wonder if in let’s say twenty years (I’ll be almost 60), I’ll be proudly grey like most Dutch women that age, or proudly red/brown/black like most Turkish women.
Some weeks ago I was at the ‘hair designer’ – that’s what the hairdresser I go to calls himself. He should, since he works in one of the most famous and expensive hotels in Istanbul, Ciragan Palace, and there you don’t have your hair cut, but designed. If you need your hair done and plan to go to Istanbul, I’d recommend you to go to a luxury Turkish one. By Turkish standards it’s extremely expensive, but for Europeans 80 or 100 Turkish lira (€ 35 to € 45) is a rather normal price. And what do you get for that price? You get spoiled. One of my favourite treatments is the hair drying, which is usually done by three guys: one – the chief – making the model and using the brush, the youngest helper only holding the hair dryer and functioning mainly as ‘an arm’, and the third one pulling and pushing that arm to the right side of the head and putting it at the right angle.
Anyway, at the hair designer’s they told me I really, really, needed a hair dye. They carefully pointed out the grey hairs grouped together on my right forehead. ‘Yeah I’ll do that myself some day’, I answered. Even though I was in doubt about whether I should or not. In the Netherlands, you hardly ever see elderly women with obviously dyed hair in colours like black or red. Now I’m only 39, but should I stop dyeing at the first signs of grey, or go on dyeing till 60? At some point, the dyeing had to stop, I thought, because dyeing in old age is seen as a sign of denying that you are getting older.
Now, living in Turkey, I might change that opinion. Last week in a restaurant I saw a group of women in their sixties, all with their hair dyed in light or dark red, dark brown or black. They looked good. Here in Turkey it’s not even a question if you are brave enough to stop dyeing your hair – you just dye it, period. Not only the modern Istanbul women, but also traditional women do it. You see it in women’s toilets in public places, where women take their headscarves off to re-arrange them: even the old ladies dressed in salvar (the ultra wide traditional trousers) often turn out to be not covering any grey hair with the scarf. And when I visited a Turkish family recently, the mother of fifty-something turned out to be bright red under her scarf.
For now, I have chosen to dye my hair again. I would have done that in Holland too, I’m sure. But at some point, I will have to make a decision: Dutch grey, or Turkish colour?