Gray hair: To dye or not to dye?

TV personality Kelly Osbourne arrives at the 20th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation's Oscar Viewing Party held at West Hollywood Park on Feb. 26, 2012, in West Hollywood, Calif.
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
Kelly Osbourne arrives at an even in West Hollywood, Calif. on Feb. 26, 2012.
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

(CBS/AP) Gray hair has been popping up on runways and red carpets, on models and young celebrities for months, but for regular working women, it's a trickier issue.

Jeanne Thompson began going gray at 23. She colored her hair for years as she worked her way into management at a large Boston-area financial services company, then gave up the dye for good about a year ago.

"Women put pressure on themselves to color," the Exeter, N.H., woman said. ``It's a bold statement to be gray because it's saying, `You know what? I did let my hair go, but I'm not letting myself go.' People take me more seriously now. I never apologize for the gray hair.''

She is among a new type of gray panther, a woman who aspires to do well and get ahead on the job while happily maintaining a full head of gray.

But not everyone finds it so easy.

"I don't think a woman in the workplace is going to follow that trend,'' David Scher, a civil rights attorney in Washington, said with a laugh. "I think women in the workplace are highly pressured to look young. If I were an older working person, the last thing I would do is go gray."

When it comes to gray on the job, Anne Kreamer, author of "Going Gray" said, context counts. The color might be easier in academia over high-tech, for instance, and in Minneapolis over Los Angeles. Job description and your rung on the ladder might also be in play: chief financial officer versus a lowlier, more creative and therefore more gray-tolerant position like assistant talent agent, for example.

The new "gray movement'' doesn't keep tabs on membership, but blogs like Terri Holley's Going Gray are proliferating, along with pro-gray Facebook fan pages and Twitter feeds.

Younger celebrities are also embracing the "gray movement" as a part of fashion. Stars such as Kelly Osbourne and Lady Gaga have started dying their hair gray on purpose.