Why This Mom Is Embracing Her Silver at 39
Four months ago, at the age of 39, I found myself scrolling on instagram and considering the possibility of growing out my natural hair color – my silver and gray natural hair color (gasp!).
A friend of mine had told me about the hashtag #silversisters on instagram and how inspiring it had been for her to see so many empowered and beautiful women showing off their journey to silver hair. This friend had recently decided to let her natural hair color grow out (also at age 39) as she’d had silver and gray hairs since she was a teenager, and was so tired of dying her roots every 2 weeks to cover it up.
When I began to scroll through these silver sisters posts I saw what my friend was talking about- these women were excited about their gray transition (often referred to as a “silver journey”) and their natural hair color. When I asked several of them what made them decide to grow out their gray and silver hair I heard things like —
“I just got tired of dying my hair”
“One day I just realized I didn’t HAVE to do this anymore if I didn’t want to”
“I’m embracing myself, my body, my age, my ideas, my life. (I am) letting my silver, my natural hair color, show for the world to see”
“I was tired of my life revolving around my monthly hair appointments. Not only saving $$ now but also time as the salon appointments took hours!”
“I ended up seeing dying my hair as a form of compliance/submission whilst punishing myself and I realized how brainwashed we are as women as to what we should be – always chasing youth.”
As I swiped through the images, I kept asking myself if I thought these women looked older or less attractive with their silver and gray showing–and my answer was “heck no…these women look even better!” These women not only seemed empowered to be embracing their natural hair color and texture, but what I’d been told — that going gray ‘makes you look older’ or that ‘you are letting yourself go’ – just simply wasn’t true. Moreover, many of these women had been covering up their silver and gray hair since they were very young (some as young as 8 years old!), so the idea that silver and gray hair means a person is older just isn’t true.
To say that my mindset around gray hair changed after scrolling through the #silversisters of instagram would be an understatement. I’d been thinking about my own silver journey and gray transition for a while and had decided to wait until I was around 50 (in about 10 years) because, until recently, I believed that dark hair just looked better on me–and I didn’t want to look “older”.
“…I was forced to check in with myself about some hidden (and often unhealthy) beliefs about my appearance..”
Yet, after seeing so many women my age, and much younger, embracing their natural hair color, I was forced to check in with myself about some hidden (and often unhealthy) beliefs about my appearance. I had to confront some unpleasant messaging I’d come to accept as truth about what I’m allowed to be and do in order to be considered a “beautiful woman.” After some reflection, I realized I had always been very attached to being considered a beautiful woman by society, and I didn’t dare question the notion that gray or silver hair would take that social currency and approval away from me.
All it took was one close friend who was choosing a different path and seeing the inspiration of the silver sisters on instagram to make me rethink my entire plan around how I’d like to age gracefully in the coming years. After much journaling, one morning I looked in the mirror and I just knew that I was ready to ditch the dye and see what life could be like without dyeing my roots every 4 weeks.
Now, 4 months into my silver journey (Check me out on instagram @6footsilversister), I’m struck by how much has changed internally for me to not only accept and embrace my gray hairs, but to be empowered and excited when I see them. Although I try to view the entire transition as a playful experiment, and I’m not committing to never dying my hair again, I am noticing that each week as I document my grow out on instagram I’m getting more excited about how unique and beautiful my hair will look once my hair is fully natural- and in my case that means a lot of salt and pepper.
I’ve already experienced some challenges on the journey. Some days I really don’t like my hair and I question my decision. Some days I hear the old thought patterns- you are looking older- you should just dye your hair- people are going to judge you. And the comments from strangers online and in person can be frustrating anytime you choose to do something out of the norm. This is all to be expected in a culture that asks women to hide any signs of aging (with the false conception that grey hair = aging) in order to be appreciated, valued, or praised. Yet, the empowering part of the journey is the positive changes you start to see and feel about yourself on the inside. Once I started allowing myself to be just who I am on the outside, I noticed I started embracing so many other areas of myself and my personality that I often kept hidden. As my silver continues to grow, I feel a more authentic me is emerging.
To be clear- I’m not against haircolor at all. I love hair of all colors and most silver sisters you meet online will share the same sentiment. There are a lot of reasons that women (or men) decide to stop dying their hair and it doesn’t mean that they judge anyone else who decides to dye their hair their entire life. I write this to share my own personal experience and I am not encouraging anyone to be against hair color or to grow out their gray, but if you do decide that is for you- there is a whole community of silver sisters that will support you in doing so.
No matter what you choose, it’s your choice. And hey, it’s just hair- have fun with it!
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