No, it’s not the Rolling Stones song, it’s everyday German reality. Wander around in any German city, and it won’t be long before you see a middle-aged woman with short, spiky, bright-pink hair. Blue and green are other popular options. When I was recently in Berlin, I saw a woman with orange, green, and brown hair closing up a day-care center. She also wore skin-tight leopard-skin leggings and eyed me suspiciously, which I suppose goes together. The moderator of a debate show on the public-affairs channel Phoenix, Gaby Dietzen, is a modest exemplar of this trend. Look at those cheeky white locks hovering above her wise, angular face like a tiny pair of wings. Ain’t they precious? [I rather fancy Ms. Dietzen].
The answer the foreigner seeks is why? What motivates a woman of a certain age to go into a beauty salon and tell Günÿ, "cut it all off and dye the remainder bright-pink"? This morning I got one answer. In the middle of a report about what old people do with their hair on Germany’s version of NPR, they interviewed a management consultant who had bright-pink hair. Like most electric-haired women, she was a baby boomer (68ers, as they are called in Germany), and their dyeing decision is a little poke in the eye of traditional dirndl-and-pigtails conceptions of female beauty. Further, she wanted to preserve just a little bit of the 68er spirit, even as she had made her peace with capitalism: "I just wanted to stand out from the crowd." Finally, she observed, in came in handy for a frequent traveler. Whenever she needed to meet a stranger in a public place, she just said "You can’t miss me — I’m the one with bright-pink hair!"