I’m actually excited to be going grey in lockdown and here’s why

I am 31 years old but you wouldn’t know it. This is a humble brag for the ages and I am sure I will feel differently when I am much older and still look much younger but, up until this moment, my babyface has caused me nothing but grief.

I’ve started going grey. It began a year ago – just a few wiry strands screaming for attention on my scalp, like errant grey pipe cleaners drowning in a brunette sea. Now, during lockdown, a full herd of them have arrived, all around my face.

A first I felt a bit panicked, as though death had knocked on the door with an hourglass and was reminding me I was on my way out. But then, I started to get excited.

I realise this is not the natural reaction most people have when they start going grey.

We live in a society that praises youthful appearance. After all, how many skincare regimes are predicated on the illusion that they will serve as some sort of elixir of life, keeping you young and fresh-faced forever? But whilst we specifically praise this in women, society certainly does not value the contributions of young women beyond that surface level appearance. Everyone wants to look young; but no one wants to be treated like a baby.

My babyface – coupled with my 5ft 3 height – has served me nothing but condescension from others. It has proved a hindrance in my daily life and a downright obstacle in my professional one, where my worth has been severely, often tragically, underestimated.

I get ID’d every time I buy alcohol – even now, with my face mask on. I was once ushered into a passing school trip on the street on my way to work, by a well-meaning and flustered teacher who told me to “find my partner.” I was 25.

I have been stopped at the airport no less than five times and counting in the last three years, by workers who politely tell me, with a sweet little tilted head and saccharine smile, that I cannot use E Check In with my passport if I am under 16.

“Is your parent with you?” they ask.

My parents have been asked for quite a lot; by people at the bank, by the gas man who comes to check the metre, by politicians canvassing at the door. All of them who take one look at me and ask if an adult can speak to them instead.

Take it as a compliment? Sure, OK then, well how about the time I was ID’d at a party I was working at as a reporter? I was midway through an interview when the manager asked to see proof of age.

I was interviewing Idris Elba.

That’s right. Idris. F*****g. Elba.

Not so funny now, is it?

The fact is, as much as looking younger is a currency, when you look *too* young, you lose credibility and this is a particularly tricky hurdle to cross in a professional environment.

I have been mistaken for the work experience students I have been mentoring, I have been looked at with incredulity by PRs when ushering me in to interview their celebrity client. I can see it all over their face- can we really let this teenager near the famous person??

I was once told by an editor that she had not pushed me for a promotion because I was “fresh out of university” when I had been in my career, and out of university, for over five years. When I corrected her, she laughed absentmindedly and said “Oh yes, I forgot that, you just look so young.”

I think that one upset me more than Idris, if I’m honest.

So, you know what? Bring on the grey hairs, let them do their worst. I hope I have a full head by Christmas and can finally stop being asked if my mother’s home.

Because I’ll probably look like her by then, and that means I might be listened to- or at least be able to buy a sodding bottle of wine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *