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Going Gray: What I Learned about Beauty, Sex, Work, Motherhood, Authenticity, and Everything Else That Really Matters
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Going Gray: What I Learned about Beauty, Sex, Work, Motherhood, Authenticity, and Everything Else That Really Matters

3.35  ·  Rating details ·  967 ratings  ·  200 reviews
Anne Kreamer thought she was a youthful 49 until she saw a photo taken with her teenage daughter that stopped her in her tracks. She set out for herself a program to let her hair become its true colour, and to discover her true self. This is an exploration of that experience and a frank investigation of aging.
Hardcover, 209 pages
Published October 23rd 2007 by Little Brown and Company (first published 2007)
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 ·  967 ratings  ·  200 reviews

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Laura Leaney
Jan 31, 2016 rated it it was ok
What prompted me to choose this book at the library? My age, I think, and an urge to somehow discover my genuine self. I do admire Anne Kreamer's bravery in making her vulnerable insecurities public in this book. Still, the title is misleading. Seriously, 50 percent of the book is about hair, rather than "beauty, sex, work, motherhood."

I think we can all agree that there's a media perception that women with gray hair are no longer sexually attractive. I think we can also all agree that it's a s
Going Gray : What I Learned About Beauty, Sex, Work, Motherhood by Anne Kreamer is an easy read on a seemingly light-weight subject-but one that I find intensely interesting (as I suspect many women do)-hair. The book is also concerned with a more obviously serious subject, aging. Although neither subject is handled in a deeply philosophical way, I found the points made fascinating and personally relevant.

At 49, Anne Kreamer has had (several) successful careers as well as a happy marriage and a
Jan 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, non-fiction
Here at the beginning of 2019, I like many others have some goals: eat healthier, work out more, get better sleep, and so on. The change I most want to make is to stop coloring my hair. I am 52 and every few weeks when my roots start growing out I can see that I have lots of gray, maybe all gray. I don't know if I have any natural blonde left, but I know that I am sick of attempting to cover the gray which now needs more frequent color. This seems so trivial, but as Kreamer talks about in this b ...more

The author was interviewed by Margaret Throsby on ABC Classic FM earlier in the year, and it sounded like a fascinating book. But the interview turned out to have been far more interesting than the book. Kreamer's context is so far removed from my own (she randomly ends up at dinner parties with Anna Devere-Smith, for example), and as my mother pointed out to me, she's also from a distinctly different generation, one that grew up adhering to general expectations on hemlines and the
Oct 19, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: to-be-sold
As a woman who has been going gray since high school, I'm not sure what I expected from this book. Validation? Instead, I am reminded how silly some people are. It boggles my mind that Kreamer spent enough money to send her kids to college on her HAIR. This book wasn't written for those of us who would never dream of a $300 hair styling appointment. Apparently, all we have in common with Kreamer is the color of our hair. ...more
Mar 13, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: women that don't need to follow the crowd
This book is a research paper covering every possible angle of graying. I found it completely mind boggling that Anne had figured out that she had spent upwards of $65,000 dying her hair over the years. Cost has been the biggest reason that I haven't highlighted mine for the past year and half. When things got tight it was one of the first things to go. But even before I read this book I was watching several people around me who are very blond (colored) and I decided I didn't ever want to look l ...more
Jan 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was full of wisdom for middle-aged women (and men!) transitioning into their fifties. When Kreamer, a former exec of Nickelodeon decides to let her hair go gray at 49, she realizes that it isn't all about the hair, but rather what gray hair represents-- embracing her authentic 'older' self. In the process of interviewing people from all walks of life, she discovers more about the psychological aspects of aging and vanity than ever expected. It's hard to believe a book about letting you ...more
Susan C Lance
Jun 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
One year ago today I stopped coloring my hair (or should I say it was the last time I colored my hair) All the old color was finally cut off about a hair cut ago.

It has been an interesting year. I have received all kinds of reactions. I am 54, so am young to have a head of white hair. But it is not completely white and I personally love the way it has grown out with naturally dark lowlights (highlights?)

Some people, complete strangers, will come up to me and say “I love your hair!” (I had a la
Dec 14, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2012
Meh. I thought this would be more about understanding our society's obsession with looking young and maybe an analysis of how society has viewed gray haired women in different time periods. It kind of starts off that way. Then it veers into a very odd area. The author does crazy experiments like posting two pictures of herself on with brown hair and the other with gray--to measure the response rate. She also tests her new gray-haired look by going out to bars to pick up men. I fou ...more
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ebook
Well, what can I say? I was down with a bad cold and it seemed as a good idea at the time.
Good writing, spoiled on something so irrelevant. As if once you decide you "go gray" - or grey in the UK- you are not allowed to dye your hair EVER again.
Most likely because the secret is out now and nobody will believe now that your hair is really purple or green or pink or whatever crazy colour is trendy at any given time.
Sep 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013-reads
Looking at herself in a picture, standing beside her teenage daughter Ms. Kreamer decided that she did not like the artificial look she had perpetuated for so many years and made the decision to stop coloring her hair. She was 49 years old. In this memoir about following through on that decision Ms. Kreamer tells of all the avenues she explored while “going gray”. Often funny and always insightful she takes us through the experience of gathering opinions on her new “old” look from friends, profe ...more
Oct 31, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
A skimmably-quick read, light as a feather. I am in the process of (very) gradually going naturally gray and while this book was entertaining, it mostly focused on whether or not people (mostly men) find gray hair attractive, which is the least compelling aspect of going gray for me. Towards the end, she started to wrestle with the idea of getting comfortable with aging, with acknowledging the reality of aging, and how one can really evolve into more of themselves when they stop pretending to be ...more
Oct 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: females with hair
This was even more interesting than I thought it would be. It's extremely intelligently written, well researched, straightforward. The author is not a crazed fanatic about "going gray." She does just what her subtitle indicates: she tells you what she learned about different aspects of life associated with not dyeing one's hair. I love it as a response to our youth-crazed culture and as a response to the idea that if you let yourself age naturally, then you are "letting yourself go." I recently ...more
Katie Morash
May 31, 2019 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one

This book has not stood the test of time. Too much has changed from the early 2000's to now, and I would like to think the average reader expects more from their writers than what is put on these pages. Boring at the best of times, and racist, homophobic, sexist, ageist, and fat-shaming (size-ist?) at the worst of times. Not to mention, the "research" conducted and quoted throughout is completely lacking in reliability. I glazed over the final pages just to say I finished the book, and now
Jun 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Wah, I had hoped for a little more here. I suppose if I cared more about my appearance and grey hair I would have been more into the book, but I don't have any qualms about going grey...I've never colored my hair and have no intention of starting. I'm actually really curious to see what I'd look like, but if I felt it made me look older or as though I had given up, well, I kind of already feel that way now! Well, not really, but I mean, I just don't worry about it. I am more for authenticity abo ...more
Dec 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: aging, memoir, feminism, beauty
Kreamer writes an entire book about her decision at age 50 to stop coloring her hair and let it go gray. At times I wondered why this was a book-length work when an essay would probably cover most salient points. At times I wondered how I could read so much about appearances. However, when I allowed myself, I recognized that hair color does function as a strong signifier in society.

It's an annoying FACT that appearances to make a difference in our relationships with work, family, romance, frien
Jan 23, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: feminisim, memoir
I think I'm just not the target audience for this book. I picked it because I'm having a personal mini-crisis trying to decide if I should stop dying my hair. She writes in a conversational and easy going style that I enjoyed reading. But at an early-grayer, most of the book isn't relevant to me. She talks a lot about age-appropriateness and authenticity but doesn't really cover the situation where gray hair isn't age appropriate. She does mention this in the case of men, but not women (and in d ...more
Beth Anne
Mar 13, 2010 rated it liked it
As a youthful gray-haired lady, I was hopeful that this book would completely rock my world. The author seems interesting, her hair looks great, and she's married to Kurt Andersen. Anyway, read the whole thing while laid up in be with a bad ear infection, but I felt the same way about it that I felt about ELizabeth Gilbert's new one--Marriage: whatever the subtitle is--which is there is a particular kind of self-absorbed navel gazing that seems to be passing as memoir these days. Obviously, this ...more
Dec 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Let me start out by saying I found this book because I am considering allowing my hair to go gray. And as any woman who has colored her hair for years knows - this is a monumental decision. How does one mask the inevitable skunk stripe? What happens when that stripe becomes more of a beanie? Will people think that I am letting myself go? Will I look old? Will no one think I am attractive? Can I still be a funky, fun and interesting person and no longer use chemical dyes to disguise my true self? ...more
Oct 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Interesting for me as someone who is going gray and not bothered by it. Wonder if my "coloring" friends would agree with these quotes from the book:

“She realized that the ones who dressed for comfort were also nearly all the ones who didn’t dye their hair—and that they overwhelmingly seemed to be having a better time than the other women.”

“She’s letting herself go. I’m trying, anyhow. Letting go of false fronts and mass-market expectations. Letting go for me is all about…finding myself. It’s let
Mary Havens
Nov 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It's no surprise that I am going gray and, with the most recent birthday, felt like I needed to have a bit of a reckoning about aging and graying. Hence, this book!
Kreamer made me laugh out loud as she fumbled through her decision to go gray and her research to find how much, if any, impact choosing to "be natural" had on her love life and career path. I liked her social experiments and felt that she covered all the bases.
I felt like the book had many positive notes about aging. I didn't realiz
Nov 06, 2007 rated it really liked it
The idea for this book came when the author saw a picture of herself and realized her dye-job did not make her look younger. I'm a woman in my 50's who's never considered dying my hair, even as I get more gray hairs each year. Thus I was surprised when halfway through this book I realized I was unwilling to put it down.

This book provides a fascinating look at how people perceive women (and men!) with gray hair. I learned quite a lot about how women are manipulated in Hollywood, and why hankering
May 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed reading this book, which was a cheap read on Kobo. I know that I would not have bought this in hard copy (which is one of the reasons I like the Kobo). I am prime target market I would guess - 50 and in a constant debate as to whether to let life happen (keep the grey and encourage it) or strive to hold on to the younger me and dye or in some way colour my hair.
I found some of the studies quite illuminating and enjoyed sharing them with my sister who has just decided to let nature takes
Jul 12, 2014 rated it liked it
p. 125 'I think wisdom and age have value... and it's really important, and if all we do is continue this whole business of focusing on youth, we'll miss that all ages can be wonderful, not only personally, but the culture will miss that ingredient as well."
p. 201 'My whole experience hasn't been just about letting my hair grow in its natural gray. It's been about growing up and - pardon the touchy-feely chiche- continuing to evolve as a person'
Dec 30, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those who like good writing
After reading an article by this woma, I then wanted to read her book which is devoted to why women (and men) feel compelled to color their hair! Personally it's something I've been struggling with for a while and since I've been coloring my hair on my own or professionally for over ten years, I have come to the conclusion that enough is enough! ...more
Cindykaye Gordon
Jun 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Loved it! Won't be applicable if you're under 40 - but ALL hairdressers should have to read it!!! Loved the insight, the history of the social constructs of beauty in our world, and mostly the upfront honesty ofn he author and all her friends (especially those appalled at the idea of allowing themselves to go gray). ...more
Edmund Davis-Quinn
Aug 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library
I really enjoyed this book. Going gray is something I have been looking forward to, I like how it looks on me.

I don't think about the pressures by society and advertising to color hair, and the fact that it's a multi billion business.

Mrs. Kreamer looks fabulous with gray hair, and I would love to see more people go gray. Also wrote about this in my post on August 17th.
Jun 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Hair coloring seems a trivial subject, but considering the time and money spent, it is far deeper than a simple question of whether to color or not. An interesting "study" on the effect of gray hair on getting or keeping a job, dating and our attitude about aging in general. A quick read but surprisingly thought provoking one. Great read for all women, regardless of their age. ...more
Oct 20, 2009 added it
I expected more of a fluffy book, oops! sorry sister! this book amuses while putting matters into well researched contemp. context - a welcome read for a formerly unsure wanna/don't wanna be gray (lets call it silver) hair woman. ...more
May 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
One of the best non-fiction books I've read in a while.

The writing is clear and funny, and raises some really good points. I found it very engaging even though I'm (hopefully) a decade or so away from going gray myself.

Very inspiring!
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