Last month, I wrote two blog posts about gray hair: one about authenticity in which I shared my decision to let myself go gray (I have never dyed my hair), the other about the double standard between men and women about graying. I was surprised to see I struck a cord. Through the writing of these articles, I was given the opportunity to meet many women who have made the same choice most of whom – unlike me – did color their hair at some point. Some are older while others are still quite young (some in their late 20s).
What caused women to make such a drastic move in a society which heralds youth at all cost?
A bold move for sure considering the current climate. I’m sure it was not an easy decision and not one taken lightly by most.
Most of all, it is a very personal choice for every woman who has made it, as well as for those who choose to continue to color.
The difference between the choices is this: women who decide to color receive full acceptance while those who choose to go natural generally feel ostracized, judged, and even rejected. Therefore, these brave women yearn for support and recognition during the transition process. Many such women have turned to Facebook communities in that search for comfort.
Women who make a choice contrary to the societal norm still want to know they are sexy, worthy, beautiful, and loved. They do not want to be accepted or rejected solely for the color of their hair – something which seems so ludicrous and shallow.
For many, at the end of the transformation, to stop coloring means freedom and power.
Though initially, they felt vulnerable, most women discovered hidden strength through the process.
I went to these online communities and was startled at what I discovered. The support and acceptance are both unlike anything I have ever seen. I stumbled upon bold and audacious women who seemed to grow stronger, more vibrant, and dare I even say, sexier, and more beautiful through their metamorphosis!
I didn’t see women who looked older or who “had let themselves go” but rather, women who walked into their beauty and became wholehearted. Women who now empower others to do the same.
I saw powerful women and what a sight!
These capable women humbled me, and it is with humility I asked some of them to share their stories. The response was overwhelming and heartwarming. I am grateful for their openness and willingness to trust me with their voices – while I am a complete unknown to them.
Today, I share Frances story.
Going Grey: Frances
Florence: When did you notice your first gray hair?
Frances: I noticed my first gray at 27.
Florence: Did you ever think of dying your hair? Why or why not?
Frances: I did color to cover the gray because in my 30s, I didn’t have that much gray and semi-permanent color. I colored myself at home.
Florence: How long did you color your hair?
Frances: About seventeen years.
Florence: What made you want to stop coloring?
Frances: I couldn’t fight it anymore, gray roots showed up just days after coloring. Also, I would dye it brown and then highlight it, and it was very damaging. I wanted to simplify my life and have healthy hair.
Florence: How old were you when you went natural?
Florence: How long was the transition process?
Frances: It took 2.5 years to get rid of all colored hair.
Florence: Did you have some support?
Frances: My husband encouraged me to stop coloring when we married in 2012. I waited three years before I listened.
Florence: Did you encounter nay-sayers?
Frances: No one I know personally. A woman who knows a relative of mine advised I keep coloring because natural would make me look old. And she has natural hair! Go figure!
Florence: What does your husband say about your natural color?
Frances: My husband tells me all the time he loves my natural hair, and wishes I had done it sooner.
Florence: Do you feel less attractive because you have gray hair?
Frances: No. I’m attractive to my husband, and I don’t care what anyone else thinks. I personally feel my natural color is more attractive than the fake “bronde.”
Florence: What has going natural done for you?
Frances: Going natural has set me free from the burden of trying to keep the gray covered, and my hair is healthier.
Florence: would you ever consider dying again?
Frances: NEVER will I color again
Florence: Any advice for the woman who wants to go natural but is afraid to carry it out?
Frances: I don’t see it as that big of a deal. It’s just hair. Therefore, I see nothing to be afraid of. I prefer long hair for myself and kept it on the long side and went cold turkey. I just think there are more important things in life than what people think of how my hair looks. That wouldn’t have changed even if I had had people being negative and critical. I had an end goal I was working toward, knew it would take time and was patient. Each woman needs to do what she is comfortable with. There is nothing to lose by finding out what your own natural hair is like. My advice is: try it and if you don’t like it, keep coloring.