I saw a post from a Facebook friend the other day highlighting a new documentary coming out soon called Gray is the New Blonde. In the post she encourages women to stop dying their hair and embrace the natural beauty of the various shades of gray that we have been taught to cover up. Several of her friends commented that they are transitioning to gray, embrace their gray, have never colored their hair, etc. It was inspiring to read and… they are all over 50 years old.
My mom started graying in high school and by the time I was in high school it was mostly gray. Now she has the most beautiful gray/white hair. She gets comments on it regularly, even from young women who want to know “who does your hair?” Her mom had gray hair too – it probably would have turned white eventually had she lived longer.
I started noticing gray hairs on my head in my early-twenties. Just one or two every now and then. It was startling but not enough for anyone else to notice. During my 30s the grays have started to become more prominent, especially since the biggest patch is right up front at the start of my part along the hairline.
The first time I dyed my hair took place in my friend’s apartment – I was in my late twenties and I thought I’d like to have some highlights. I had used Sun In as a teenager, but that was the extent of my hair coloring. I wasn’t highlighting it to cover anything up, but to add something new to my hair.
After that I had blonde highlights off and on over the last 10-15 years. Just recently I’ve gone back to my natural color – some of the blonde sneaks through now and then, but for the most part I’m a brunette through and through.
So, if I’m not having highlights put in, why do I have it colored at all? Well, it’s that pesky gray hair. And because I’ve been coloring it for so long, I don’t know what it would look like if I stopped. I have no idea how much gray hair is really there. I love the idea of embracing my natural color. I’m all for it… if I were 50. I’m 39 and I’m not ready to be gray yet. I suppose if I knew that spot up front would be a cool stripe then maybe I’d consider it. But that would require taking a big leap and slowing letting it grow out. That’s not an easy step to take.
I’m looking forward to seeing the documentary. I have lots of a great women in my life who have never colored their hair or who have transitioned to natural coloring. Women with long gray hair and short gray hair. Women with varying shades of black, gray and white. Women who look younger because they’ve allowed their hair to be free and women who look like my grandma because they stopped coloring their hair. All of them are beautiful.
I’m not sure why it’s become a trend for young women to dye their hair gray. I’m not sure why it’s cool or who decided this was the thing to do.
I often wonder when I’ll be ready to accept my hair color as it is – how old will I be when I’m ready to be gray? Will I feel older at that point? Will people think I’m older than I am? Will I even care about such things?
I broke a trend along my mother’s lineage when I colored my hair. She never did, her mom didn’t and I can’t imagine that any of the Mennonite or Amish women before her did either! I stepped out of line and made my own path, as my mom did in her own way and her mom did in other ways. I’m sure someday I’m look in the mirror and admire my gray hair. I’ll see glimpses of my grandma’s eyes and my mom’s smile looking back at me under a crown of brown, gray and white. No matter what I decide about my hair, those glimpses are still there and so is the gray hair – visible or not!