Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Embracing the silver

About 2 weeks ago, I got the usual alert that it was time to color my hair. Hints of gray were becoming visible in my roots, indicating it was time to cover the evidence and I already had a plan in place to resolve this "issue."

But when it came time to actually put that plan into motion, I found myself dragging my feet. The idea of spending a long period with chemical soaking my head was the last thing I wanted to be doing with my day. Then there was also the issue with clean-up, additional care to prevent stains on clothing, not to mention the lingering chemical smell.

Most on my mind was me revisiting this idea behind going gray.

I found my first gray hair when I was 21 years old. White and extremely kinked, I remember letting out a scream before scrambling to find a pair of tweezers. For the next 5 years, this method of pulling my grays worked very well, enforced by students and co-workers who were quick to point out any I may have missed (and one student stopped midway when attempting to pull one out). Before my 30th birthday, I had amassed enough gray hairs that plucking became too time intensive and thus I purchased my first box of hair dye.

Then infertility hit and I found myself in a weird place where coloring my hair was to be avoided. For 3 years, I would hold off dying my roots (and often cheating between treatment cycles), dealing with an unusual ombre that reminded me that I was barren and getting old. In my eyes, my gray hair was just another sign of how my body was failing me.

Recently reviewing photos from that period, though, I've been seeing those grays in a different light. Though my face looks sullen and there's pain in my eyes, those gray hairs actually have the opposite effect. In one photo in particular where my face isn't as visible and the sun is hitting my hair, it almost appears as if there is light coming out of my body. Immediately I was reminded of this quote from Rumi:

"I said: What about my eyes?
He said: Keep them on the road.

I said: What about my passion?
He said: Keep it burning.

I said: What about my heart?
He said: Tell me what you hold inside it?

I said: Pain and sorrow.
He said: Stay with it. The wound is the place where the Light enters you."

After some research, I announced to Grey that I'm done dying my hair. He's been rocking silver highlights in his hair for as long as I've known him and I'm at a point where I'm ready to embrace that too. I'm not going to lie, this transition isn't going to be pretty. I've already been warned about the temptation to go back to dying, especially as I'm job hunting again (gray hair isn't embraced in the business world). Grey also has his reservations given how women are labeled and viewed when they don't cover their grays (rainbow hair is fine, but graying naturally still gets an uneasy response).

I'm also hoping that as each day passes, I'll grow more comfortable with what is happening on my head. Embracing the silver that's been masked for too long.


  1. It's beautiful. Think about how much we pay for shiny jewelry, and you have it on your head for free :-). I have never dyed my hair, though I think about it all the time. Mine is grey -- very grey -- with a white streak through the front like Bride of Frankenstein. I spend a lot of time thinking about covering it up and then backtracking through the reasons you listed plus the feeling that I've been grey for so long that it will look even more obvious and fake when I dye it. I don't know. I just want my hair to feel like my hair.

  2. I'm with Mel. (And like you both, I am embracing the gray, too.)

    I love the way you equate silver with light. I'm going to do that now, too.

  3. I'm there too. I've been coloring my hair for years. At first it started out as something fun to play around with, and with age and time, it's become more of a "necessity." I've had the stray gray hair since my early 20s, but now they're noticeable. And with as much as my inner feminist cringes to say this, in the professional world, appearance matters for women. Anyway, I'm in this weird space of being over it and feeling like I should stay on top of it.

    (also, why is it that men who are graying are "distinguished" but women who allow their hair to naturally turn gray are "old hags"?)

  4. I stopped colouring my hair a few years ago, & haven't looked back. I must admit, I might not have done so if I was still working or job hunting... 50+ women have a tough enough time in the workplace as it is...! But I do NOT regret the time or money spent, or whatever those chemicals were doing to my hair...!

    I read a good book a while back on this subject -- reviewed here:


    A post I wrote about going grey myself:


  5. I think it's great that you are embracing the gray! I will tell you, I am noticing more and more women choosing to forgo coloring and letting the silver shine. I feel like it could even be described as a movement. Why should men be free to let their grays come in and, Like BnB said, be distinguished, while women are apparently horrifying when they let their hair be natural? It is EXPENSIVE. It is NOT HEALTHY. I agree, sitting with chemicals in your hair makes you wonder, hmmm, why am I doing this? I haven't colored my hair since the summer, mostly because I haven't had time or money due to the moving nonsense, but now I could make that appointment and I haven't. I kind of like the idea of looking to see what it looks like without color. I definitely have a lot more at my temples than I thought I did, and it's all through my hair now, not just localized. But, when I think on what I could do with the money I spend every 6-8 weeks... a break from the coloring seems like an interesting idea. I hope you continue to love yours -- it will probably only take a couple months for it to look less startling to you. (Also, there's a lady in my tap class whose hair is gray, but then she dyes the ends a bright color, like primary red...that is a cool way to go because it's embracing the gray, but then also embracing how it takes on bright color, too! Not sure I'm brave enough for that one though.)

  6. I think you are very brave!! I applaud you in your decision, and I agree that it seems to be a lot more of us are deciding to forgo hair color these days.
    I haven’t gotten to that point yet...I remember in my mid-20s when I first ran my hands through my hair and saw all the silver strands and kind of freaked out. Now I just see the roots coming back in and I can’t take it, I feel like I re-color it earlier and earlier every time. I hope one day to be able to go all gray. My grandmothers had beautiful white hair and I hope I can be that lucky.

  7. THIS...this is why I adore you. You take this chance on yourself and push yourself just enough outside your comfort zone to grow...and you are beautiful. I've been noticing what I thought were just blonde hairs coming in are actually quite silver. The bathroom lighting at work really brings them out. I haven't colored my hair since I started treatment for the kids in 2010. My hair changes colors with the seasons depending on how much sun I see. But this...silver is new and I applaud you and your beautiful self!

  8. I saw a woman on the tram the other day who had beautiful long silver grey hair. I have noticed more and more women are starting to embrace the grey which is great!


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