On going grey

Holland, Caroline and Ward, Richard (2012). On going grey. In: Ylänne, Virpi ed. Representing Ageing: Images and identities. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 115–131.

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Greying hair is one of the definitive physical markers of advancing years. Indeed the phrase ‘going grey’ is common metaphor for ageing itself. In this chapter we consider how media images of hair and discourses on the appearance, condition, length and colour of hair contribute to the normalisation of particular attitudes to the appearance, particularly of older women. The discussion includes the construct of greying as transition; a point of entry to a stage in the life course that is implicitly unwanted and where the language of resistance, fighting and even war is deployed in support of rejecting old age. Drawing on older people's personal accounts, the chapter discusses how their subjective and personal responses often reveal a strategic and agentive negotiation of the reflexive relationship between the body, self and society.

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