DEAR HARRIETTE: My hair is turning gray, and it concerns me because I work in a young industry. Most of my colleagues are 20-somethings, while I am in my 40s. I am good at my job and seem to be appreciated. I make sure I look youthful enough and vital so I am not considered old.
Ironically, a couple of my office mates have dyed their hair gray. It seems to be a trend. Even so, I think I should dye mine brown. The trend works for young people. And, of course, it doesn’t seem to matter at all for men. For women, I think it’s a whole different ballgame. What do you think? -- To Dye or Not to Dye, Chicago
DEAR TO DYE OR NOT TO DYE: You are right on many fronts. Yes, it is a trend these days for women to dye their hair gray or white, different from the classic platinum blond that remains popular. I agree that it works best on people who seem to defy the age group for the color. Being young and hip with gray hair gives the color an edge.
That said, I will add that some women wear their natural gray hair beautifully and can maintain a semblance of youthful vitality at the same time. It depends on the style and cut that you wear and the rest of your overall appearance.
Given that you work in a youthful industry and ageism exists even if it is unconscious, you should figure out a look that makes you feel comfortable and competitive with your co-workers. Dyeing your hair is perfectly fine -- and commonplace. Consider dyeing your hair a fun color. Who said only the 20-somethings can have fun with hair color?
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a great job, and I make good money. I’ve worked hard for it, and I feel good that my education and commitment are paying off, but I also feel uncomfortable because most of my friends are struggling. I help them out in different ways, like paying for dinner when we all go out and buying them great gifts for their birthdays, but I’m at a crossroads as to how to be comfortable with my good fortune.
I know my friends aren’t my responsibility in that way, but I don’t want to seem like I’m bragging when I make improvements in my life, like redoing my kitchen when one friend can hardly pay her rent. How do I reconcile my circumstances in comparison to theirs? -- Uneasy, Boston
DEAR UNEASY: Being generous with your friends is a kind and thoughtful action. Be careful not to overdo it, though. You run the risk of creating expectations that you will foot all of the bills when you are together. Balance that out.
In terms of how you live your life, do it without talking about it. Make your improvements, take your trips and do what you do without fanfare. When your friends visit, welcome them to your home and share your bounty without bragging about it or revealing costs. Your low-key manner will help to ease the economic divide.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)