To Hell with Going Gray Gracefully!
Inside: My personal take on why to not worry too much about going gray gracefully.
Since I’m a little (!!) obsessed with the topic of gray hair, I spend a lot of time online looking at pictures of gray hair and reading about gray hair.
And one thing I keep seeing are articles about “How to Go Gray Gracefully.” For some reason, the phrase bugs me. All I can think when I see it is “Screw going gray gracefully!”
There’s nothing wrong with being ladylike or graceful. I like ladylike behavior. For example, you’ll never meet a bigger fan of Miss Manners than me! And I am a FANATIC for thank you notes.
I admire graceful women and I think it would be SO freaking neat to be one! Oh, to glide across a room with grace & elegance!
So what bugs me about the phrase? Is there anything wrong with being graceful? Of course not!
But “going gray gracefully” as a concept still irks the crap out of me.
I’ve been thinking about it all day and I’ve come up with these reasons why I don’t like it:
The Gray Hair Transition Is a Surprisingly Introspective Time
The gray hair transition has brought up a LOT of feelings for me. It’s a deeply personal experience. So telling me how to do it “gracefully” seems like butting in!
Going gray has made me think about things like my mortality.
I have a son with some special needs. Who will take care of him when my husband and I are gone?
The gray hair transition has made me think about women, culture, and society. Why is everyone so invested in controlling women’s behavior?
It also has brought up questions about ageism, biology, and genetics… I’m not close to my biological paternal relatives (by choice), but it has made me wonder: Do they look like me? What else about them is similar?
It makes me think about my Dad – he was technically my stepfather, but that’s such an inadequate word for what he was to me: my one and only b
He had beautiful salt & pepper hair. It was one of his defining features. I had dark hair, so when I was a little kid I positively glowed when people told me that I looked just like him. When I see my gray hair now, it makes me miss him even more.
The gray hair transition also makes you think about identity.
What does it mean to be a person on this planet?
If I was this person before (young, brunette), who am I becoming? Will she be different than the current me, and the one I was before? If that’s the case, who am I, really?
It has got me thinking about my perfectionistic tendencies.
I used to go NUTS when I saw gray hair poking through. It made me a little OCD to see the white hair coming up in the middle of my expanse of dyed dark hair.
Now that I’m going gray cold turkey, I’m forced to be kind of Zen and just “let it happen.” This goes against my natural tendenc to control things and that’s a GREAT THING!
I’m a fast moving, fast talking person. Going gray cold turkey is forcing me to do something SLOWLY and to appreciate the process instead of rushing through it.
OK, just a warning: this is where things get a little bit nuts!
It’s making me think about the Moon.*
It’s making me think about butterflies.*
It’s making me think about prioritizing things I love to do instead of just duties and responsibilities.
It’s making me think about how lucky I am to be alive, on Earth, at this moment, even with all the craziness going on in the world.
Not everyone is lucky enough to be here, breathing the air, and listening to music, talking to people, petting dogs, and doing all the other mundane things we take for granted.
So, how can one possibly u
ndertake this MAJOR process “gracefully?”
I feel like trying to be graceful about it would undermine the freedom and happiness I’m experiencing during this process!
So, I resolve to go gray MESSILY and JOYFULLY!
Which basically means, I’m going to go gray in the way that feels right to me: Imperfectly, rebelliously, and without giving a flying fig what anybody else
I vow to ROCK my gray hair and ROCK the rest of my life!
OK, I was going to stop there – on a high note! – but then I remembered I forgot to explain about the moon and butterflies:
When I see my hair and that of my silver sisters, all I can think about is moonlight. That’s what it looks like, and I prefer the moon to the sun, so it’s perfect!
And butterflies? Well, going gray slowly is like being a caterpillar slowly emerging from its cocoon as a beautiful butterfly. That’s how I’m feeling right now.
How about you?
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Katie is the founder of Katie Goes Platinum. After constantly dyeing her hair for over 25 years, in 2018 Katie decided to stop the madness and embrace the gray. Since then, she’s been sharing her favorite gray hair tips, resources, and stories to empower women to feel beautiful during and after their transition to gray hair.