Why Ramadan 2020 is a time to embrace going gray

With salons shuttered due to lockdowns and no shortage of stress due to the coronavirus pandemic, this could mean that many people are seeing a lot of gray hair. (File/Getty)
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Updated 12 May 2020

Why Ramadan 2020 is a time to embrace going gray

DUBAI: This January, a Harvard research team confirmed the long-standing belief that stress can indeed cause hair to turn gray. With salons shuttered due to lockdowns and no shortage of stress due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, this could mean that many people are seeing a lot of gray hair.

This may sound like particularly bad news for women in the Middle East, who traditionally pride themselves on keeping up immaculate appearances, from the designer fashion they wear to their perfectly colored and styled hair. Many are thus sorely missing their regular trips to the salon.

Culturally, silver strands are not a welcome sight for Arab women, who are often pressured to start dying their roots as early as their 20s to cover up this much-dreaded sign of ageing.

Dubai-based fashion blogger Zahra Khalil started dying her grays at age 26. She told Arab News that it has been tough not being to visit the salon.

“It’s made me realize that my gray hair is more abundant than I thought! I’m sure the stress of what’s happening in the world has made it worse, but I would like to think I look wiser,” she says.

“Initially I thought maybe it would be an interesting look if I just let it grow out and go natural. But unfortunately, the patchiness of the growth isn’t very appealing, so once I get a chance, I’ll be dying my hair again.”

In the West, gray hair is traditionally seen as a sign of wisdom and even elegance. Ironically, even some millennials are dying their locks gray, championing the silver hair color and “grombre” (gray ombre) trends.

An August 2019 article in Cosmopolitan UK predicted that silver would be the hair color of 2020. Caroline Labouchere, the 55-year-old Dubai-based “gray ambassador,” is an excellent example of why going gray is nothing to be feared. Her confident, alternative attitude towards graceful ageing have earned her spots in numerous fashion and beauty campaigns.

But why wait until our 50s to celebrate gray hair?

In the past, Middle Eastern women would have been aghast at the thought of letting their grays grow during Ramadan, a time when glamour takes precedence. This year, however, Ramadan and social distancing have combined to give us ample opportunity for spirituality and introspection, so it is fitting to learn how gray hair has been perceived as a positive sign throughout religious history.

The Bible’s Old Testament for instance, states that “grey hair is a crown of glory, found on the path of righteousness.” (Proverbs 16:31) In Islam too, gray hair is looked upon favorably; a prophetic hadith advises Muslims to refrain from plucking grey hairs, as they will be Muslims’ light on the day of resurrection.

In Saudi Arabia, salons remain closed, but in the UAE, they have begun re-opening on the condition that they adhere to strict social distancing measures, such as offering limited occupancy and ensuring the use of masks and gloves. Clinical, desolate and borderline-apocalyptic, they no longer provide the serene, satisfactory ambiance they once did. Perhaps women will not be fervently flocking to hairdressers to touch up their roots after all.

We are working from home, prioritizing comfort over fashion and wearing minimal to no makeup; frivolity has no place in our current reality. The pandemic has taught us a lesson: Life is short. Perhaps instead of masking them to extend an illusion of youth, it is time we start embracing our gray hair.


‘On the Rocks’ — Bill Murray is a steal in this dad-daughter outing

Updated 25 October 2020

‘On the Rocks’ — Bill Murray is a steal in this dad-daughter outing

CHENNAI: Bill Murray is the most endearing aspect from “On the Rocks,” Sofia Coppola’s seventh film as writer-director. Behind his trademark deadpan expression, Murray still has twinkle and mischief in his eyes. And he brings out the same kind of lonely wistfulness we saw in his earlier association with Coppola in 2003’s “Lost in Translation,” in which he and Scarlett Johansson meet in a Tokyo hotel and find comfort in each other. There was no romance there, as there is none in his latest outing as Felix. Daughter Laura (played by Rashida Jones, who has starred in “I Love You, Man” and “The Social Network”) is troubled thinking that her life is about to go into a tailspin. 

“On the Rocks” is now on Apple TV+. Supplied

“On the Rocks” — on Apple TV+ and set in New York — is just as sentimental and sweet as “Lost in Translation.” As Coppola’s latest adventure begins, we see Felix, who has made his millions as an art dealer, in the lap of luxury with a chauffeured Mercedes, first-class hotels and sensational magic in his persona. But having divorced his wife many moons ago, he longs to nurture the relationship with his daughter Laura, who is married to the very successful Dean (Marlon Wayans) with two lovely daughters. 

However, in a kind of mid-marriage crisis, Laura begins to have doubts about Dean’s fidelity, especially after he gets busy with his new professional venture that takes him away on frequent trips. His “leggy” assistant, Fiona, accompanies him, and Laura confides this to her dad, who weaves stories of all that could be happening between Dean and his assistant. Felix suggests that they follow the possibly philandering husband, and a troubled Laura gets talked into it.

“On the Rocks” has great moments, and is compelling to a great extent. Supplied

All this leads to hilarious situations with Felix always being in command, even when cops catch him speeding as he is trying to tail Dean’s cab. Wittily calm and composed, he is the sort of guy who will unabashedly say to a passing stranger that she looks ravishing and get away with it, much to his daughter’s consternation.

“On the Rocks” has great moments, and is compelling to a great extent, with Murray engaging us with full-of-life banter. Jones matches up to him, a nervous wife tottering on the edge of what has been a great marriage. She hides her angst with remarkable alacrity, trying to play a good mother to her kids, while her dad leads her up the garden path. “On the Rocks” is happily no weepy tale, and Coppola spices it up.