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Ever since I went gray from dark brunette dyed hair, something strange happens to me on a fairly regular basis…and I would be willing to bet money that it’s happened to some of you, too.
Actually, scratch that – I KNOW it has happened to many of you because you’ve emailed me about it.
What happens to me appears to be a fairly common problem among silver-haired women, although (from what I’ve gathered), the problem seems to occur more often to those of us who live in the U.S.A.
(I’m not a cultural anthropologist, so I won’t bore you by trying to figure out exactly WHY it happens more in the U.S.A. than other countries, but I suspect it’s because Americans in general tend to be a bit more chatty and open with each other than some other cultures. Which can be great, but not always…)
I recorded a video all about it, which you can see below – or you can keep reading if you prefer to do so!
Anyway, here’s the scenario:
I go to a party, or a gathering of some kind, with women I haven’t seen in a while.
And then the compliments start. (This is NOT the downside – this is the good part! And believe me, I really appreciate it and don’t take it for granted).
The comments generally start off nice, like this:
“Hey, wow – your hair looks great!”
“I love your natural hair!”
“Your gray hair looks fabulous!” and,
“Look at you, with your gorgeous silver hair.”
Yay, compliments – this is great! I’m feeling pretty good right now!
Yes, this was the best GIF I could find to illustrate my point – and I LOVE it!
But then we move on to the next (seemingly inevitable) phase of the conversation:
“You are so brave, I could never do that.”
(Well, I’m not rescuing babies from a burning hospital – I just got sick of dyeing my hair)
“I’m too young to go gray.”
(Umm, lady you’re the same age (or older) than me)
“I could never do it – I care too much about how I look.”
(OKAY.. I guess I don’t give a flying fig about how I look??)
“Your gray hair is pretty but mine is ugly.”
(You actually can’t tell until all the dye is cut off, but also …what the heck am I supposed to say to this?)
Then, no matter how much I try to steer the conversation away from my gray hair, or gray hair in general, it ends up with my female friends / colleagues / acquaintances explaining to me in great detail why going gray isn’t the right choice for them.
Oh GAWD, not this AGAIN!
Which is fine, but see – I never asked.
I KNOW going gray from dyed hair is still a non-conformist choice.
I would never pressure anybody to go gray, and I never evangelize about it to people because it is SUCH a personal decision.
The only time I give advice or guidance about gray hair is when people ask me.
But I keep getting drawn into these kinds of conversations and to be honest, it’s draining.
I just want to be with my friends and have a nice time, and not have my hair be the main topic of conversation (and controversy).
Why Does This Happen?
I finally figured out why this happens:
When we make choices that are unusual or go against the cultural norm, some people see that as a rebuke.
Our decision to go silver puts these types of people on the defensive.
Even if we never said ONE WORD about our gray hair to them, the very act of BEING a naturally silver-haired woman feels like a slap in the face to them and it makes them feel like we are questioning THEIR choices.
And that’s why they get defensive and start explaining their choice not to go gray to us, even if we never asked them.
It’s so odd as I’m not that type of person – and I bet many of you aren’t, too.
So it’s hard to get into their mindset. But it IS a mindset that many people have.
I first encountered this mindset when I used cloth diapers for my infants.
I didn’t care what other people did with their babies, but for my babies, I wanted to use cloth diapers.
When I’d change my baby’s diaper at a mommy get-together, inevitably someone would notice my son’s cloth diapers and then immediately launch a defense of why they chose to use disposable.
If they were really feeling heated, I’d get an earful about why I was wrong to use cloth (say what?)
I had to hear about it ALL THE TIME even though I never ONCE brought up the topic myself.
It was annoying!
Do I have any words of wisdom on how to handle this?
Not really. Because nothing really works (believe me, I’ve tried everything).
The only thing I can think of is to pretend to start choking on crackers or something (!!) next time this happens, as I think that only a major emergency could stop this type of convo in its tracks.
But at least WE know that, despite this aggravation, we are happy with OUR choice and get to reap the rewards of healthier, unique hair.
I’d love to hear your thoughts or comments on this!
Leave your comment below, and make sure to tell me what country you are from. Thanks!
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