Inside: Why going gray is such a big freaking deal for most women.
Ever since I decided to embrace my grays, I find myself obsessed with gray hair – mine, yours, and every woman’s!
I try to explain this feeling to my husband (that going gray is a BIG FREAKING DEAL for women), but I get muddled. He’s 100% supportive, but I can’t help but wonder if men are mystified by the intense feelings women have about their hair.
Let’s face it, hair seems like a silly thing to get worked up about when some days it feels like the whole world is falling apart.
But even knowing that, I can’t help it. Since the day I declared myself ready to ditch the dye, I have felt profoundly liberated and happy. I’ve had a burst of creative energy.
So, I’ve been thinking a lot about it and came up with a few insights about this process:
WHY GOING GRAY IS SUCH A BIG DEAL
#1 – Accepting the Grays Means Accepting Your Age
I’ll admit, turning 50 was a little rough. My beauty was important to me.
I was awkward-looking for a lot of my teenage years (I’m not kidding when I say that people still scream when they see my 8th-grade photo), but I hit my stride around 18 and had a lot of confidence about my looks up until recently.
The past few years have been stressful, and my skin has taken a hit. I’ve had sleepless nights.
I used to like seeing photos of myself, but for the past few years, I’ve hated seeing them. I feel like I’ve aged 10 years (circles under my eyes, wrinkles, drooping eyelids, etc.)
But our family recently lost a friend at a young age. She left behind young children. It made me rethink this whole hating growing old thing.
Growing old is a privilege.
Being here on this Earth and spending time with my kids, my family, and friends means more to me than being young. Every day I can have with them is a blessing.
Once I stopped caring about looking younger than my age, I felt incredibly free!
Guess what? I’m a 51-year old woman. That’s nothing to be ashamed about! I have years of learning and experiences behind me, and I wouldn’t trade those years for anything.
#2 – Showing Off Your Gray Hair is Counter-Culture
I’ve never fit completely into mainstream culture. My taste in music, art, books, and TV is pretty eclectic. My friends have almost always been people in the arts.
For years, working a full-time job in a corporate environment, I’ve had to conform to business norms and my personal style has been toned down.
I used to dye my hair magenta in college, and I’ve missed the freedom to do something nutty with my hair. But now that I’m letting my silvers show, and I’m walking around the office with multi-colored “calico” hair, it feels SO freeing.
It feels rebellious and fun.
I admit it – I’m lucky. My office environment is very supportive – I haven’t had any rude comments (God knows what they might be thinking, but they don’t say it!)
#3 – Embracing Your Grays is Feminist
Whether or not you consider yourself a feminist, ask yourself this question: Is it right that men are allowed the freedom to display their grays, but society expects women (especially young women) to cover them up?
I read a story on one of my gray hair Facebook groups about a woman whose colleague told her that it’s not okay for women to go gray because “society expects women to dye their hair.”
Well, pardon my French, but I say “Screw that!”
My hair is nobody’s business but mine. Whether I choose to dye or not is for me alone to decide.
Part of the reason I started thinking about going gray, actually, was the #metoo movement. Women need to let the world know what we won’t stand for, and even though hair might seem like a minor issue, it’s really not.
Throughout history, women’s hair has been a symbol for femininity and virtue or vice. Think of the cultures that insist that women cover their hair because it might drive men towards acting out their lustful thoughts.
Or consider all the myths about women’s hair (Rapunzel!).
Really, people, it’s just hair. And it’s your hair (or my hair) to do with what we choose.
Rant over! And if you want to see how other silver sisters feel about this transition, read The Surprising Truth About Going Gray – it’s a doozy!
How about you? What feelings has going gray unleashed in you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
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