Silver and Proud

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I am 43, and I love my grey hair.  In the photo above, I’m a bottle-brunette.  In real life, I’m 95% grey.  This is real life:

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Here’s how the bottle brunette thing happened.  For the first time in over a decade, I was growing out my short, short hair.  I was bored with it, and I thought I’d have fun with a semi-permanent colour while I went through the painful process of growing it.  Although it made me profoundly uncomfortable when people (crazy people, all of them) called me my kids’ grandmother, I wasn’t trying to hide the grey so much as ease the pain of the in-between stage.  But then, my particular brand of grey did not absorb much of the semi-permanent colour, so I was paying for colour that did not actually take.  My hairdresser said, you might as well go the whole hog, and I said, “What the hell?” and switched to permanent: permanent slavery to biweekly examinations for the skunk line at my part.

It was fun for a while having no grey, but it never felt real.  I never felt like I was the real me, and while I did not mind having grey hair from the age of 20, I really hated having grey roots.   I had committed to colour and to letting my hair grow, though, and I was trapped.

Until I wasn’t.

I was walking home with the kids one day in the spring, my now-shoulder-length hair scraped back into an unflatteringly harsh pony tail because the roots were bad and I hadn’t had time to deal with it.  In front of me, waiting for the traffic light, was a woman I guess was in her 60s.  She had less grey than I do, but hers was all showing.  I felt a pang of envy.  At first the envy was for her freedom.  She wasn’t hiding anything.  Her hair was also pulled back, but instead of my thick pony tail, hers was pulled into a clip at the base of her neck.  The clip was so thin.  Her hair was plentiful and long but so fine it looked on the verge of not existing at all.  It was old lady hair.  And it was beautiful.  And my envy became the kind generated by air-brushed magazine images.  “One day,” I thought, “I will have hair like that.  I can’t wait.”  It reminded me of my great aunt who used to braid then wrap her hair into a bun.  Sometimes she would let me braid her hair before she pinned it up, and when I came to the end of the braid, it was a silver sliver.  I wanted my own silver sliver.

In the time it took the light to change, “I can’t wait” became “Why wait?” and I decided to cut off all the bottled colour and go back to short and grey.  See above.  I haven’t looked back.

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17 thoughts on “Silver and Proud

  1. Nathalie – I too have embraced my silver fox and love the freedom as well. My mom had a full head of grey hair by the time she was 28 and while I’ll be 42 in 3 short months and it’s not a full head, I have got a LOT and I am rolling with it. And it’s crazy how many people comment on it and love it…something tells me they wish they would just let go and embrace theirs too 🙂

  2. I admire these women so much. My grey causes me stress…the dye feels so false, but the grey at the temples makes me self-conscious. I can’t quite commit to the truth. I hope I can get my head where these ladies are at, literally and figuratively. Beautiful!

    • I hear you on the stress front. For what it’s worth, six months later, I still feel very self-conscious about the grey, but only when I’m out with my kids, so it’s still the whole grandmother thing…

  3. I’m lucky to have a mother (in her late sixties) who has gorgeous, long, thick, silver hair. I can only hope I’ll be so lucky — at 41, there are quite a few silver strands, but it’s still mostly dark.

    I hear you about the unreality of dye. Older women who dye their hair really do usually look younger, but often somehow inauthentic. Still, it’s nice to have it both ways, I think. — love seeing older women with fabulous, daring colours, as well as women who go natural.

  4. My grandmother’s hair went pure white overnight when she was 21. When I started seeing the first white hairs poking through at 30 during my pregnancy I tried pulling them. Once Daniel was born I didn’t have time and decided I had earned those silver hairs. One of my dearest friends is the most beautiful woman I know and has pure white hair with the spirit of a 21 year old. I haven’t gone completely silver yet but I have decided to embrace it as it comes and where my silver with pride. Age is a state of mind not hair color.

    • Overnight?! Isn’t it funny how we sometimes admire it more in others than in ourselves. I was reminded by a friend that I had once raved about someone’s early salt and pepper, and I realized, “That’s right. I did love it. I can love it on me, too.”

    • I once said to my son’s babysitter that he was blond as a baby but his hair had turned darker as he got older. Without skipping a beat, she said, “That’s funny. I was born with brown hair, but as I get older, my hair gets more blonde.”

  5. Oh I needed to come across this blog! I don’t know anyone who is as gray as I am at 40. I do box dye mine regularly, however, but it is getting very difficult to keep up with dying my hair and my 5 children. Not only that, but I can’t help but to consider how many brain cells I am killing with each dye. I think I am getting dumber by the box. Anyway, my hair goes mostly gray again before I am able to re-color it, so it is not like I am fooling anyone with the dye. Everyone knows I am mostly gray anyway, but for some reason, I am just not ready to let it go and show. You have inspired me. Thank you.

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