“Amy! Have you stopped coloring your hair?”
Her baffled shock and horror was met with my simple “Yes.”
There’s no ‘right’ way to age.
Except that there is.
The right way is the way that allows every individual woman to feel comfortable in her container.
At age 24, I was at an upscale salon in Cherry Creek (Denver, CO). The stylist, with a slightly scolding tone, told me “You are very gray. Very premature”.
The story goes that my grandfather had a head full of white at 29.
Scientists aren’t fully sure what causes hair to gray, but they do know that it starts happening for most men in their 30s and women by the time we’re 35.
For the past 10 years, I’ve been watching as the men I work with wear their gray proudly.
Meanwhile, I’m dashing to the salon every six weeks to cover mine up.
The only answer that seems reasonable is this idea that women are supposed to maintain all signs of youthful beauty as we age while men are free to embrace the aging process and wear it proudly as signs of wisdom and competency.
Aging man = wise, credible, handsome
Aging woman = washed up, expired, ugly
How antiquated are our beliefs about worth?
It makes me sick.
Women injecting rat poison into our faces is now so commonplace that my dentist can do it while I am in for a semi-annual hygiene appointment.
So, in my own act of rebellion, I’ve let my gray grow.
Just as it is.
As the growing out process began, other women would look at my roots. I saw their eyes dart to my part and then away. I wanted to assure them that I knew…I knew I had a lot of gray and that I wasn’t planning to get a touch up any time soon.
It’s been 18 months so far…and my gray is 3/4 of the length of my shoulder-length hair.
I greet excitedly very new streak, every concentrated solid gathering of white. I welcome the day that it will be consistently un-pigmented to show the world, clearly, that this gray is hard-earned and letting it show through is my intent.
I hope that I can inspire other women to be proud of aging.
It’s not ugly.
It’s not a decline.
It’s how we’re supposed to look.
If we stop trying to hide it or fight it, we teach our daughters, husbands, and sons that authenticity is beautiful.
It may just be me, but a woman with gray hair is exponentially more beautiful than one who has clearly tried to cover it up with a too-bright shade of what-used-to-be.
But, clearly, I am a little biased.
Ladies, no matter how you choose to age, let it be known that my gray and I support you!