What Happens When a Woman goes Grey?

A hair story.

Why is gray hair such a taboo for women?

I saw a post that went like this “I just turned 40 and I found my first grey hair and I cried. I literally cried.”

When I read that I laughed (to myself) incredulously. Seriously, you cried? I had no sympathy.

I found my first grey hair when I was 12 or 13.

Actually, my mother was brushing my hair and found it. She plucked it out to show me and then put it in my baby book.

My hair has had quite a colourful journey. When I was very young, it was wavy and golden, the same colour as my daughter’s hair now. When I lived in Jamaica at 7 and 8, it was dark with bright blond streaks (so thick that people asked if my mother dyed it!)

By grade 5, people described the colour as black, not brown. But, when I would go into the sunlight, it shimmered like gold.

By the time I was in grade 10, I had a cool grey streak in my dark hair that made me look like an X-Men character. I loved that grey streak. I found out many years later that some people would say behind my back “Why doesn’t she dye it?” But, when it’s just a cool streak, why hide it?

When I was 19 or 20, I let my best friend dye my hair for fun. “Don’t worry,” she said. “You can just dye it back to your natural colour and let it grow out if you want.” What we didn’t know is that there is no “salt and pepper” in box hair dye. To let it grow out would be months and months of weird roots or I’d have to do a pixie-cut.

A hairdresser told me, “Don’t go grey. It’ll age you by a decade.

So, for a decade, I dyed my hair. My preferred colour was “dark auburn” from a box. I pulled my “streak” out and protected it before dying the rest of the hair. It looked nice. But, eventually, being kind of lazy, I didn’t feel like dying it anymore.

6 months pregnant and a few month after my last dye job.

So, when I was pregnant with my first child at 27/28, I stopped dyeing my hair. I knew hair dye wasn’t unsafe during pregnancy and, actually dyed it one last time at 2 months pregnant before I said “screw it!”

At the annual Literacy Centre Spelling Bee in Barrie 2 months before giving birth.

I used the pregnancy as my excuse and let my hair grow out. By time my daughter was born, most of the fake colour was gone.

A month old on Mother’s Day 2013

Do I look older than a 33 year old? Maybe.

In the grocery store, when my daughter was 2, she was running around and a lady said “Go see your grandma”. She had only seen me from behind. When I turned around and she saw my face, I could see that she realized her mistake and was embarrassed.

But, since going completely natural two things have happened:

In bright light, it looks so white and so cool!

1) I love it the more white it gets and

2) I get comments on my hair on a regular basis. “How do you get your hair like that?” “Your hair is so beautiful!” “It’s natural? You’re so lucky!”

I also hear this “Your hair is so beautiful. I want to go natural but I’m not sure it would look as good. I’m kind of scared to do it!

Double Standard

I think for most women, the fear is looking old.

Because women with grey hair are tired and old, while men are wise and distinguished. Women who are grey are too worn out to “keep themselves up”, while men are silver foxes. I say we get rid of the negatives and celebrate whatever hair we have.

I’m here to tell you that I’m 33 and grey. And yes, I’m tired because I have two kids and, yes, I’m too lazy / cheap to dye my hair or have it dyed. But I also think grey looks great. It’s time to squash the idea that only old women are grey.

(My grey hair is a bit wiry and I have to blow dry and/or straighten to make sure it looks great. When I dyed my hair, I could get away with washing and ignoring. So, I guess the time saved not dyeing is negated. Oh well! )

I’ll leave you with this video: