Want to find a topic that will divide women? Ask them what they think of grey hair on anyone under the age of sixty.
I had my first two silver hairs by the time I was 27 years old; it was around the time of my wedding day. I’d already been dying my hair on and off for a good ten years, for fun, so this visible sign premature aging was just another reason to continue. My fast-growing hair meant that I was pretty well putting toxic chemicals on my head every month or so. Sometimes I’d use henna or other so-called natural products, but regardless of what I used, the intention was the same: to deny the natural expression of my body.
I was about 42, when I looked myself in the mirror and knew that if I wanted to truly walk the talk and be as authentic as possible then I had to face the truth: I was someone who was going grey (or silver, as I prefer to call it) early. I decided that I was no longer prepared to coat my head in dye (even the so-called natural ones) every few weeks. I felt ‘too young’ to be going grey, and it was a bold step, but one which I felt was important. My life’s work was about living with integrity and being authentic, and yet, staring me in the mirror everyday was a person who was covering up! So, I cut my hair short, and let the process begin. I had an image in mind: by the time I entered my crone years I’d have long silver hair, and would look like a radiant Goddess. Hey, a girl can dream!
I’m not there yet−it’s a work in progress−but I’m so pleased that I stuck with it, even on the truly bad hair days. I’m grateful that I respect myself enough to value the health of my body, and also that I’m no longer contributing to the massive environmental impact caused by the hair-dye industry.
You have probably heard it many times: a woman choosing to go grey or silver can only mean one thing: she has ‘given up’ on herself. Remember the outrage when The Duchess of Cambridge was seen with a couple of grey hairs? The media reaction was disproportionate to the crime.
Our culture tells us that youth and beauty are mutually exclusive, and any sign of age is an indication of decay and of impending death.
Grey hair reminds us of the eternal truth: we are all going to die. Grey hair scares us! Grey hair is a constant flag in our faces that time is running out. For God’s sake will you just dye your hair! Stop reminding us that everything we’re getting stressed about is meaningless because sooner or later we’re going to end up in the ground! Dye your hair! We don’t want to know about death!
It makes me laugh, now, because this obsession with hanging onto youth only does one thing: it strangles life. You’re not going to slow down the passage of time by putting a product on your hair that contains 5000 chemicals. What you are going to do, though, is increase your chance of ovarian cancer by 75% (*women who dye their hair between one and four times a year).
When I created the character of Azaria for my novel, Sisters of the Silver Moon, I knew this: I wanted to show a woman who was in the Autumn of her life, but as beautiful and radiant as you could imagine. And I do believe that is why readers fell for her, and found themselves wanting to be her: she portrays what it is like to be comfortable in your own skin. She is the embodiment of self-love, and is there anything more beautiful in a human?
As a feminist (not a man hater, but someone who is passionate about women’s rights and equality), I am curious as to why greying men are portrayed as sexy. Whoah, look at that silver fox! Why is it, once again, that there is one rule for women and another for men? He’s hot, and she’s not. He’s coming into his prime, has authority and substance; and she, poor lass, is letting herself go.
A woman with dyed hair gives the illusion that she’s young and fertile, therefore, still attractive. This is what our culture would have us believe. But fertility takes many forms. Is it not also about expressing creativity? As a woman standing in front of the door called menopause, I feel more creative and alive than ever. The creative fire burns so brightly. They aren’t called hot flushes for nothing, you know!
Reclaiming the right of our body to express itself naturally takes courage. The world is constantly feeding images to us that youth is life and longevity, and age is something to be hidden away. Ironically, for many people, myself included, the older we get the more dazzling and exhilarating life becomes. My only complaint about having silver hair? It’s taking a lot longer to come through then I expected.
There are now some modelling agencies which are promoting older woman with lustrous silver locks. I hope this isn’t a passing fad.
The radiance of a woman shines through her eyes and the width of her smile. Silver hair is not going to make her less attractive or feminine. In fact, many women who stop dying their hair feel more confident and authentic.
All the hair dye in the world will not give you a zest for life or a skip in your step or inject you with happiness. These come from within, and are evidence of a life well lived and loved. As we age, our skin tone changes and the harsh truth is that dying our hair isn’t the elixir of youth we’ve been led to believe. Our skin requires a softer look now, and Nature gave us the perfect solution: silver hair.
Embracing each strand of silver hair is a celebration of growth and change, not something which needs to be feared. If we think plucking out a few stray silver hairs or religiously dying our hair is going to hold back the years, then we’re wrong. Feeling alive and passionate about the life we walk means honouring ourselves fully.
It is worth noting that premature grey hair is often an indication of a nutrient deficiency, such as iodine, copper or B12. If your thyroid is low, you might find your hair feels rough or dry (or is, indeed, falling out). I recommend eating seaweeds each day, or taking kelp. You will also need selenium (3 or so Brazil nuts every day). This will improve your hormone balance, and give you lustrous hair, though it may take a while for you to see the changes.
Many women, once they make the decision to go grey or silver, tend to wish it would happen all at once. If you have naturally dark hair, the process can seem agonisingly slow. Find a hair cut/style that suits you, and is easy to look after, and before you know it you’ll have embraced your silver crown.
Many people seem to forget that our skin is one of the main indicators of health and well-being. Eating a nutritious diet and drinking a couple of litres of water each day, as well as thinking happy thoughts, will do far more for your looks and attractiveness than a bottle of hair dye every month.
If you’re taking the bold step of embracing your silver hair, there are wonderful support groups on Facebook, such as Going Grey Gracefully. Do join them, and let yourself be inspired.
Reclaim your beauty with each strand of silver, and dance with that crown. You’ve earnt it.
It is a privilege to grow old, something which is denied to many.