A couple of days ago, I noticed I had a strand of gray hair and my knee-jerk response was to pluck it out. I hadn’t thought about it much but when I saw this new movement of women celebrating their silver mane, I reflected on the incident. When I was a little girl, I found silver strands cool. I was actually happy whenever I saw one, even imagining it as some kind of magical thing that gives me power. Now, as I mentioned, I dread finding one and immediately remove them because I’m afraid someone might see and tease me as an old woman.
It’s funny how I eventually came to see gray hair as this disgusting thing, similar to having some kind of gross wart, when it’s completely normal. Everyone grows silver hair. But in women especially, it’s a big no-no because it’s associated with aging (as we all know, women are not allowed to age.) While old men are called “silver fox,” we just get “old” or “stressed out.” Understandably, a lot of women resort to different ways to hide it.
“Coloring my roots every three weeks was getting expensive,” Nicole Andrus, who’s in her midthirties, told Glamour. She added, “I was really annoyed with the double standard for men and women when it came to gray hair. My dad, whom I inherited my premature gray hair from, had never felt the pressure to color his hair. Yet it was expected of me.”
True enough, my mom only started coloring hers since her gray hair started showing. It was a routine I expected I would copy once mine would start showing up too. I have friends my age, with premature gray hair, who do the same thing.
Elizabeth Collins, who is now 31, had this as well. She was 13 years old when she started going gray and had been coloring every four weeks. She decided to stop four years ago. Now, she’s documenting her transition into gray on an Instagram account, @young_and_gray29.
Another Instagram account that celebrates gray hair is @grombre (for gray ombré). These accounts, plus famous personalities embracing their gray hair—like British Vogue fashion features director Sarah Harris, actresses Jessica Biel, Katie Holmes, and model Chrissy Teigen—immensely help break down the stereotype.
Me too! Own it own it own it pic.twitter.com/hYaCyoAZHE
— hunter (@thewolfhuntress) January 22, 2018
“There is so much love and support in the [gray hair] community, evidenced in each #silversister’s post,” says Janelle Gambino, one of the women who found empowerment in the movement. “It’s great to be able to share the agony and triumphs with women who have the same goals. We’re all just grinning through a process that’s not particularly pleasant.” Though she admitted that “Growing out grays is very much like growing out a terrible haircut—you’re living with the shame of the ‘ugliness’ you don’t really want there, but you know you have to go through it to get where you want to be,” she said that having that community is a “tremendous boost on days when I may not feel as glamorous as my Instagram makes me seem.”
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“I found this amazing online community after reading the recent BBC article about it—and I am so glad I did! I remember a friend finding my first grey hair at 13—now half a life ago—and I had no idea what an impact it would come to have on my sense of self. People often tell me how much they love that I don’t dye my evermore greying hair, but it was more a passive acceptance than a proactive choice. Now as I reach further into my late twenties it feels more like a choice, but one made along with thousands of other women. A friend snapped this picture while hiking up a mountain in Wales a few days ago—and I thought I’d send it in. Thank you so much for this incredible community you’ve built!” @alexastevens #grombre #gogrombre
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“I didn’t always love my grey. If I’m honest, some days Sheba (my mane’s name) and I have a love/hate relationship. 😊 Greying early was kind of a shock. Old people are supposed to be grey, right? I couldn't take it so I started dyeing it. I soon grew tired of it, because the greys always came back. One day I decided that I’d had enough. It’s been about 4 years now, and I haven’t looked back. Allowing my silver tresses to show themselves has been liberating. There are times that I wake up, and I’m over it. I want to dye it away, but I know that I never could. It’s mine; kind of like my trademark.” @alluringkinks #grombre #gogrombre
So if you hate your silver hair, we highly recommend you follow these accounts to see just how beautiful having a silver mane can be. As for me, I have decided I’ll hold off from coloring my hair when it starts turning gray. If I manage to look half as cool as these lovely ladies, then I am so in. I can’t wait.
Art by Marian Hukom
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