To Sir With Love.

Emily is 32 and lives in Boston with her funny boyfriend. She is a beauty school dropout who cannot stop cutting her own hair. She can be found obsessing about cheese and her cat at Pretty Crabby or talking about products endlessly at Tallulah Blue. She has not seen her real hair color since 1990.

There’s an unspoken problem in the world. I feel this is tied to our shame, or perhaps we don’t want to really LOOK at this issue. Because this issue? It’s scary. It’s ugly. It’s real.

The issue is older (though not always) gentlemen and their HORRIBLE TERRIBLE dye jobs. Have you seen this?

First there was the issue of hair plugs when guys like Ben Affleck and Steve Carrell (whom I love but have you ever watched season 1 of The Office? Say for three hours straight on a Tuesday? And then you watch Season 3 and WOW MICHAEL HAS SO MUCH MORE HAIR!) suddenly showed up with a way stronger hairline. Which…okay. I don’t know what it is like to be a man with thinning hair. So, I give them that. Plug away, dudes!

But the dye. Oh. The hair dye. My mom and I have a favorite example of this. That example is Paul McCartney. I argue that while most English men somehow end up looking like old English ladies (which I heard somewhere and then I saw Elton John who looks markedly like my grandmother these days) but that doesn’t mean you should also attempt to dye your gray hair brown. It doesn’t work.


Rolling Stone.com

Awful! He should just be gray. EMBRACE THE GRAY, Sir Paul! it looks like a sweater sitting on his head.

Or then there is this guy. You may recognize him. Take a deep breath before you look at this photo…



GAH! Al! What have you done?

I mean there are a lot of HANDSOME men who have gone gray and accepted it. Richard Gere springs to mind or Steve Martin, gray since birth! It is like I have said before, it is very hard to cover up gray. Most ladies know this and instead chose to go blond. Guys for some reason, keep trying for that dark brown. Let this be a lesson to those at home. Doesn’t work. Don’t try it.

You’ll thank me later, when you aren’t going to bed alone. In the meantime, please buy a hat and grow that stuff out. Cheers!

  • admin

    February 9, 2009 at 11:07 am

    I just have to say…there is a person in my life (who will remain nameless) whose hair is the color of butternut squash. It kills me, Emily. KILLS ME.

  • Emily

    February 9, 2009 at 11:20 am

    God. That’s horrible. I don’t have any of this in my day to day life. I don’t think I could take it! Most recently my own hair was a not so good color but at least I KNEW and was actively trying to correct it. These guys have no shame! Maybe they figure they are rich and famous enough so we won’t care? But. We do.

  • Emily

    February 9, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Also I keep looking at the sideburns of those dudes. Like, what happened?? They do not bother with the upkeep so the hair is a horrible color and looks like a hair piece balanced on their heads. Ugh. I can’t take it!!

  • Pinky

    February 9, 2009 at 11:23 am

    That was awesome. Especially the take a breath part. I laughed my ass off. At your comment, AND at his hair! Gah!

  • torrie

    February 9, 2009 at 11:39 am

    My father in law’s hair is burgundy. BURGUNDY.

  • Emily

    February 9, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Seriously. It’s a National problem. When will Obama address this?

  • Heather B.

    February 9, 2009 at 11:57 am

    And! Obama has embraced his brand new gray as a result of the world’s longest election ever. EVER. He should make it a top priority in his first 100 days.

  • merrymishaps

    February 9, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    When I was in high school, the chorus director dyed his hair. And not just gray to brown. He went from white to black!

    He was not a well-liked man. There was a lot of giggling behind his back!

  • Deb

    February 9, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    I keep on noticing this trend, too. How can these guys not see the mismatch between their hair color and their skin tone, or the fact that no one naturally has that weird butterscotch-to-rusty-wine colored hair? My husband has gotten used to me pointing out the the dyed-hair guys to him when they appear on TV. (Fortunately, I met my husband just before he was going to try Grecian Formula himself (he actually had some in his medicine cabinet), and I was able to persuade him that grey looks much more distinguished and confident than dye. He now has beautiful salt and pepper curls, and looks like his authentic self.)

  • Nothing But Bonfires

    February 9, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Um, Anderson Cooper? HOTTEST MAN WITH GRAY HAIR EVER. Why can’t all men just take a cue from him? In fact, the other day Sean was all “you know, I think I might dye my hair gray. It looks so distinguished.” He was kidding, thank god, but STILL.

    Holly! D is the same way – he loves finding more grays. Why can’t men just get on board? Distinguished, silver foxes are HOT!

  • Emily

    February 9, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    Oh, yes, Anderson Cooper is totally on that list. Also on the list John Slattery. Love. Him.

  • brista

    February 9, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Oh, I love Andy Coop. Silver fox!

    Maybe we need to reorginize Obama’s To Do List and get this on there. I’m already disappointed because he was supposed to address that stupid Subway’s song. (You know…Five dollar. Five dollar. Five dollar footlong!…) If he can make that song, Miley Cyrus, and badly dyed head suits go away within the next four years…well, he’s got my vote for the next round.

  • molly

    February 9, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    I attended a college football game last fall and didn’t watch a minute of the game because I was staring at this guy’s hair in the row in front of me. He was slowing going bald and gray and decided to use some Ron Popeil Spray On Hair. He ended up with splotchy brown spots all over his head! And to top it off, he was trying to hit on the lady sitting next to him.

  • Groovymarlin

    February 9, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    I’d rather see a man with a shaved head than a ridiculous dye job. Come on men, stop being silly. I blame Donald Trump. I guess most guys, especially famous guys, figure if HE can get away with that ridiculous dead squirrel thing on HIS head, then they can get away with ugly dye jobs and crazy hair plugs.

  • lisa

    February 9, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    My husband has coined it “Ronald Reagan Hair” when men dye their hair. It either inevitably ends up looking like “butternut squash” OR shoe polish black!!! UGH

  • briantologist

    February 9, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    OH MY GOD, SERIOUSLY. I am so glad you wrote about this, as it’s been horrifying me for YEARS. It’s so fucking basic: White/gray hair has a *completely different texture* to it than non-gray/white, which makes any man-dye job PAINFULLY OBVIOUS. Fucking go with it, other men. I say this as a man with thin hair on top. It is what happens when we get old, and dyeing doesn’t make a guy look young, it makes him look like a guy who can’t deal with getting older. JAYsus.

    Oh, P.S. — I would like to add the following addendum to this discussion: As absolutely verboten as it should be for an older guy to dye his hair, it is like sixty times as verboten to dye one’s beard. It’s a one-way ticket to looking like the screaming Oxi Clean guy.

  • MelissaS

    February 9, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    Gray hair is where it’s at. They should sell “Silver Fox” in mascara style tubes so the young fellows can put it on their heads and woo women.

  • mom

    February 10, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Thank you Emily for this truly awesome post…if only Paul could see it!! His “people” must be able to see and tell him the truth, n’est pas?? And what about the girlfriend?? Not carrying enough weight yet??
    Please Sir Paul act your age, at least where your hair is concerned!
    Who are you doing this for, half your fans are as grey as you should be..

  • Amy

    February 10, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    My biology teacher in 9th grade (who also had a hilarious name: Nevin Longenecker) was always grayish by Friday but back to brown on Monday. Never failed!

  • Amy

    February 10, 2009 at 2:22 pm
  • Jamie

    February 10, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    oh man, JOHN SLATTERY. CALL ME. You are the hottest silver fox since Paul Newman.

  • kate

    February 17, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Ok, I know I’m late to comment (I’ve been on vaca) but I loved this post! Every time I see a recent photo of Sir Paul I think he looks more like Camilla Parker Bowls than she does.

    As for Al, here’ my theory: I just read in Vanity Fair that he is “5’5” in heels”….I think this hair is his attempt to gain some height. That said, it is absolutely ridiculous. I think he’s going to Phil Spector’s hair stylist.

  • Stephen Ownby

    September 25, 2009 at 11:53 am

    This is great! I worked with an old guy who for years wore his hair in a pompadore and dyed it reddish brown (like the Fonz). Between hair-cuts his side-burns and the hair on the back of his neck would turn grey and he’d know it was time for a re-do. My hair has been grey since my late twenties and he’d always tell me I should try a little Grecian Formula. No thanks!