Why Going Gray Is Right For Me

by Wendy Wisner
Originally Published: 
Courtesy of Wendy Wisner

My mom started going gray in her mid-30s and like most women of her time, she began dying her hair right away. I remember her bathroom sink perpetually stained with hair dye. It seemed like she was always having to re-dye her hair or touch up her roots. It was a real pain-in-the-ass and she would even mention here and there that she wished she had the courage to just say fuck it and go gray.

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In my latter teen years—during my “au natural” hippie phase where I shunned make-up and even stopped shaving my legs and pits—I decided there was no way in hell I was going to dye my hair once I started going gray. Screw that, I thought, I’m not going to be like my mom and try to defy my age. I’m going to embrace my gorgeous God-given gray locks.

Eventually, the extreme phase of my teenage hippiedom passed. I started shaving my legs and pits again, wearing make-up occasionally, and just generally conforming to the beauty norms of the culture a little more. In my early 20s, my first few gray hairs appeared and I even remember plucking them out right away. It wasn’t that they looked terribly bad: I didn’t like what they symbolized. I wasn’t ready to be “old” yet, for crying out loud!

Still, those gray hairs were few and far between, and I was able to avoid the question of dying my hair until just a few years ago, when I hit my mid-30s, and—just like my mom—the gray hairs started multiplying all over my head.

Courtesy of Wendy Wisner

At first, I didn’t make a decision about whether or not to dye my hair. I still have that hippie, rebellious streak in me and I don’t like to make beauty decisions based on what society says I should be doing. I use makeup when I feel like it, wear whatever the heck makes me happy, and groom myself in whatever way I see fit. I’m all in with the you do you approach to this kind of stuff.

I decided I would see how I felt at each moment as the gray hairs started to come, and if at any point, I wanted to dye my hair, I would go ahead and do it. If not, I wouldn’t.

Soon enough, my grays started to appear in photographs, white streaks against my jet-black hair. I’d find white hairs on my pillow, or mixed in with the hair I’d rescue out of the shower drain. At first, the gray hair kind of freaked me out. Again, who wants to be reminded of how they are aging? It’s kind of creepy when you realize that your body is becoming less and less capable of doing seemingly basic things, like producing melanin.

Courtesy of Wendy Wisner

But I also found that I was starting to fall in love with the gray—or at least make friends with it. My 42nd birthday is coming up now. I’m by no means all gray. At a distance, I still look like a woman with black, wavy hair. But if you look right at me, there’s no mistaking the fact that I’m a salt and pepper kind of gal.

And guess what? I realized the other day that I’m all in with the grays. I’m loving each phase of the way my gray hair has taken over. Of course, the possibility still exists that I’ll change things up and dye it someday. Maybe one day I’ll want purple hair—you never know.

But for now, I’m loving watching the gray-haired-me take form, and I’ve been eyeing those older women who are rocking a head full of silver locks. To me, they look awesome and hot AF. And I want in.

Courtesy of Wendy Wisner

Aging is a very strange thing. So many of us do everything we can to get away from it. Dying our hair is probably one of the top things we do—and the majority of women do this, pretty much as soon as their first gray strand appears. I totally get that, and I think there is nothing wrong with wanting to dye your hair—or looking into botox, getting a facelift, a tummy-tuck, whatever floats your boat.

But for me, embracing my age has been freeing. I have loved getting older because it means I’ve lived life, learned from it, gained wisdom. I have so many fewer fucks to give, and they diminish each and every year. For me, my gray hair goes along with all of that. The grays are beautiful to me and give me a refined sense of beauty.

I don’t want to hide my age: I am proud of it, and I want the world to see that I’m a 42 year-old badass silver-haired lady who takes no shit.

Again, I’m all about the “do what works for you” mentality when it comes to choices we make about our looks, our bodies, our fashion choices. As for me, I’m saying fuck it, going gray, and loving every last second of it.

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