The Times Style Section Is A Year Behind On Hair Trends

It’s Wednesday, so it must be time for the New York Times to publish something about men’s lifestyle #issues that most of the women in their age cohort would find familiar but not consider a very big deal. (OK, to be frank, I’m referencing that wrought garbage about how hard it is for men in their 40s to be single.)

Today, it’s a long puff piece about men who are dyeing their hair grey. You know what’s really funny about this? The granny hair trend has been around for like a year and a half, and the Times knows that, because they did a trend piece on it in regards to women last March. The difference is that the article on men poses the trend appraisingly (“For Millennial Men, Gray Hair Is Welcome”), while the article on women poses the trend as somehow baffling (“Why are young women dyeing their hair grey?”).

There are other key differences: The men’s article makes no reference to the fact that it’s not actually Tyler Oakley or Zayn Malik or Gus Kenworthy who started this trend – it’s the women of Instagram who started going grey in 2014. Give credit where credit is due, yes? Or is it impossible to believe that men’s fashion choices might be informed by women?

Or, for example, the men’s article states that “going gray would start at $350 at most salons […] And that doesn’t take into account upkeep.” Having grey hair is posed as similar to having a pet you have to take care of, because you have to have all these products and keep going back to the salon for touchups and oh the #struggle. Notice how the women’s article made no mention of this: It’s something women just do.

I mean. Son. What salons are you going to? Why have you not learned how to bleach and tone at home? Why is it considered difficult to cut down to washing your hair twice a week and stop by Sally’s to get some Generic-brand Shimmer Lights? Are guys really so out of the loop on hair care that they would pay to have this touched up every couple weeks instead of just doing it themselves? Have you all never mixed toner and 20 volume developer? Do you think it’s hard?

Between these two articles, all I’m really reading is: Men want to enjoy the same fashion-forwardness as women but don’t know how to adapt to the high cost of personal maintenance as well as women do. In the meantime, colorists and other fashion professionals are willing to attempt to hoodwink clueless guys into believing that this all necessarily comes at a premium.

And I guess what really bothers me here is that it poses femininity as not just expensive – which it is – but as indulgently, vainly expensive, which by and large it is not. One of the great things about being taught to be feminine is that it comes with a lot of DIY-style thriftiness. You learn how to cook, you learn how to sew, you learn how to mend at least minor injuries and wounds, you learn home economics, and, in this case, you also learn how to do your own damn hair and makeup, because yeah, going to the salon is costly.

It’s not just annoying that the Times is repeating itself or a year and a half behind the trend. It’s annoying that they’re not covering all of the DIY grey hair tutorials that exist on the Internet. It’s annoying that they don’t cover the economics of hair care. It’s annoying that the 2015 piece on women and grey hair talked about embracing ageing while the men’s piece on grey hair claims that it’s not about embracing aging, it’s just about being fashion forward, making the women’s piece an appraisal of women’s entire bodies while affording men the ability to just have it be about their hair. It’s annoying that the women’s piece got stuck into their “Women in the World” vertical while the men’s piece got put into the Fashion & Style section, as if the topic didn’t belong in the more widely-read section until men were doing it.

Eventually I’ll learn my lesson and stop myself before reading any trend pieces in the Times. Until then, perhaps I will use it as coverage for my bathroom floor while I’m toning my hair.

[New York Times]
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