So for those who may not know, I was given an amazing opportunity by my dear friend Maria Del Russo to be featured in a piece on Refinery29 after I’d mentioned this ‘big idea’ I had. You see, after noticing tiny silver wings starting to grow from my temples, I realized that my mother sprouted the same grey wings I’ve grown as of late on her temples at 24 and dyed her hair for decades, until she finally threw up her hands and stopped. Now, she works an unbelievable head-turning white mane that she regrets not having embraced YEARS ago. I looked at my greys and started the same process in my head that she, and most women, do at some point. Should I dye them? When do I start? Can people see them? Would I regret it like Mom does? And then… I got mad. Mad because it felt like giving in, like showing signs of time passing meant giving something of myself, something important, up. Why did I have a knee jerk reaction to hide them? Why did I think that having a few greys would look ‘bad’ in the first place? Why did I care? So, I threw up my hands, said ‘fuck it’ (it’s what I do), and decided to face my fears by dying my whole damned head silvery grey.
The morning of my appointment, I stared at a picture of Storm from X-Men all the way into the city on the train for inspiration and to quell my fears. I’ve always felt that my hair was, like Amy once said of Jo in Little Women, my ‘one beauty’. Fat or thin, pimple faced or sweaty or awkward, I always had my hair to hide behind and distract others’ eyes, and now I was going to go and royally fuck with it and my identity. This is to say that I was NERVOUS. I’d never really dyed my hair before, let alone bleached it, and although it felt in many ways downright dumb to do so on a head of healthy, happy virgin hair, I trusted Maria and Lucille & Jae at Sally Hershberger (because who wouldn’t, they are the BEST) to take care of my tresses slash not make me look totally awful. Except in the 8+ hour process of getting to grey, during which I looked ridiculous.
Eyes stinging and watering, my head wrapped in plastic wrap and blue goo, clients coming and going for hours while I’m sitting there stinking up the place with my gigantic bleach head – first, they did the back (note the terror-based laughter at the shade of baby chick yellow I’m seeing for the first time),
And then the whole thing.
Which was terrifying. But I still trusted the talented hands I’d been put into, and my trust was well placed, because I was and am OBSESSED with the end result.
I mean, check out a closeup of this yesburgers (stop trying to make yesburgers happen, it’s not going to happen) amazingness.
Beautiful, right? Well, I think it is. I feel like a superhero, like I have a one of a kind work of art on my head! But let’s be honest here, dying your hair a weird color isn’t even all that crazy. Grey hair has even been a trend as of late, so it’s not like I invented the wheel here. I recognize that just because it’s a big deal to me, that it was a journey for me to be ready to do it, a scary leap to have it done, and a major adjustment to rock it with confidence, doesn’t mean it’s a huge thing to anyone else. There are plenty of comments on both the original piece and when it was featured by Yahoo Beauty that criticize me and my choice to go grey. They say it’s not ‘real’ grey, that it’s dumb to do and dumber to write about, that I look old, ugly, fat, blah blah blah. People stare incredulously and try to touch it (more on this later), ask ‘whyyyyyy?!’, men balk at the very idea of a woman choosing grey. Guess how many fucks I have to give about what they think?
I am proud of my hair, proud of the R29 piece, and above all, SO proud of what it stands for.
Because the purpose of it was, to me, not that I had all that much grey to begin with. Yes, I am embracing the little wings of white sprouting from my temples, but what I’m really doing is jumping head first into the beginning stages of aging – I can’t even type that diiiiirrrrrty word without hearing a judgmental teeth suck in my head – and saying THIS IS HAPPENING. I’m not running. Grey doesn’t have to mean ugly & haggard. Laugh lines are beautiful because of where they came from. These little changes, that will inevitably lead to big changes, don’t have to take my worth away as a woman, and it’s UTTER bullshit that most of the world thinks that they do, or that my worth to the world is in my appearance. My grey hair is a middle finger to all of that. My looks aren’t my worth, but my confidence doesn’t have to suffer because I have been alive longer than Kylie or Kendall, because as beautiful as they are in the stage they’re in, there is just as much beauty in a body that proudly carries every pound of its weight with all of the experience and knowledge that comes with its years. My baby fat may be gone, but my body is powerful and sexy, and no longer tortured with insane diets and self hate. I may be sporting a few wrinkles, but my eyes are bright with the knowledge I’ve absorbed in my 33 years. And I love it all.
To the women that color their hair to hide their grey: do you. After all, I dyed mine, who am I to judge?! But remember that you don’t have to, and that freedom from the time, the money, and the chemicals that go into it is worth it enough to consider stopping, not to mention the beauty of loving who you are in this moment, greys and all, because it feels fabulous. We don’t have to run from time. We shouldn’t be expected to magically never age. Use your wrinkle cream, wear what you want, work out or don’t, and inject whatever you want wherever you want, because feeling confident and beautiful is your right and I embrace whatever you do or don’t do to get there. I just want women to shed the fear of ‘looking old’. Fear weighs us down, holds us back, inhibits our growth, limits our potential. Shame holds our self confidence hostage. It’s a process, and it takes guts, but do what you can to show the world that you’re proud of every minute you’ve had in this world in your body, that you are confident and beautiful just the age you are. We can’t let ourselves be defined or limited by our age and its effects on our appearance, and we can’t let society write us off as obsolete when we exceed the age that’s deemed ‘ideal’ (I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t go back to 22 if you paid me). Because if we buy that nonsense, then it’s so will the rest of the world, not only for us but for our daughters and granddaughters. It starts with us, dear reader. For me, it started with going (unnaturally) grey.
Where will it start for you?