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Culture

Silver linings

Debbi Evans
SILVER: A State of Mind is a candid portrait and interview series featuring 52 women who wear their grey hair proudly.

When she turned 60, San Francisco-based photographer Vicki Topaz found the perfect way to explore her trepidation about ageing. SILVER: A State of Mind is a candid portrait and interview series, five years in the making, with 52 women who don’t dye their hair. From their conversations, Topaz concluded that, while these women wear their grey proudly, hair colour is a personal choice; it’s your state of mind when ageing that matters (Topaz admits dyeing her grey hair, quoting project participant Anne Navasky: “You know what they say: grey hair always looks better on other people!”). The above stills are taken from the project, which was also released as a short film.

“A wise friend told me that your fifties can be the time that you discover what freedom means for you. And she was right.”

Amy Hempel, writer / animal rights activist

“Most women in Iran dye their hair. I used henna 
after my hair started to grey when I was 43 but it 
was ‘just pretending’. I don’t like to pretend.”

Firoozeh Anvari, acupuncturist 

“I never dyed my hair. 
I never associated it with 
age. I always associated it 
with the art of being.”

Grace Lehman, healer / writer / artist

“I suppose I’ve been surprised that at this age I find myself  feeling so comfortable. It’s like having permission (…) to be yourself and 
not apologize for it.”

Laura-Jane Coats, illustrator / writer

“My parents were typical Chinese, and very focused on appearances, very upper class. 
And I was a different kind of kid, an artist, 
sick, met and married a Caucasian man, 
not at all what they wanted for me. [When] 
I went to China to visit relatives I was the 
only one with grey hair, under 80.”

Miki Hsu Leavey, painter / teaching artist / arts integration

“I think our desire to contain nature is related to the profound psychological attitude we have in this society that denies death. [Since] woman is associated with nature, she becomes a sort of emblem of nature.”

Susan Griffin, author / women and nature

“I never thought about my own hair turning silver before it happened. I think my mother’s acceptance of her own hair turning silver was a huge influence on me.”

Wendy Stern, psychologist / psychoanalyst

“My hair protects me everywhere I go in the world. It’s really amazing. I’ve been in deep Amazonia, I’ve been in Egypt, in places completely isolated. They were respectful 
of me because of my grey hair.”

Yasmin Rossi, model / photographer

“I don’t like saying my age because people judge an age. They judge what I should be like at my age.”

Ruby Bhattacharya, owner / start up tech recruitment

womenonaging.com

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