About seven months ago, I decided I was going to let my hair go silver after dyeing it for ten years. You can read more about my decision here. I was afraid that the whole process would feel weird and uncomfortable, but I have honestly loved almost all of it. It has taught me (or reminded me) of some really good things along the way. Here are five things I have learned (or relearned) so far while letting my hair go silver:
One: Cultural beauty standards are a construct
There is an idea floating around that only youth and things associated with youth are beautiful. I have been suspicious of (and downright rebellious against) this standard for a long time. But since letting my hair go silver, I have become even more suspicious.
Now don’t get me wrong: Of course, I think youth is beautiful. There is a special exuberance and vividness to youth that I really appreciate. But since I have started letting my hair go silver, I have found so many women on a similar silver-haired journey.
I am continually awed by their beauty that has a special quality all its own.
I think older beauty is luminescent. It is often audacious, confident, knowing, and courageous, and it will knock you off your feet sometimes.
When I think of the beauty of silver hair, I often think, “Why didn’t I start this journey earlier?” I wanted to let my hair go silver long before I actually did so, and I know that cultural beauty standards were much of what held me back.
The more I recognize the beauty of silver and grey hair, the stronger my doubt of cultural beauty standards grows. They are a construct. Beauty is not a certain look. We are beautiful when we show up in our life with authenticity, courage, joy, and truth. Anyone at any age can have this kind of beauty.
Two: Magic is in the mundane.
The more my hair goes grey and silver, the more magical I feel. I love the color, and I feel free. In addition, I feel more confident. That’s magic enough, but the process itself is magic, too.
I think of magic as the ability to make something appear out of thin air or to transform things. Letting my hair go silver often feels like both of those. I often feel like my hair grows in spurts, and sometimes I will suddenly notice new strands of sparkly, luminescent hair appear, seemingly, out of thin air. Or I will notice how the texture and patterns of my hair often changes overnight.
This makes the whole process feel mysterious and adventurous. I am almost always up for more of that in my life. Magic is in the extra-special and extraordinary, but it is also in the mundane—like hair.
Three: The process is meaningful.
There are times when I feel impatient with my silver hair process. Sometimes I just want it to be all silver already. But I am grateful for the process. It allows me to say good-bye to my dark brown hair, which has been integral to my identity my whole life.
In addition, it also allows me gradually to welcome my silver hair, which symbolizes a new stage of my life. It gives me time to figure out different hairstyles or clothes I like to match with my new silver hair. And it gives me time to connect with other women that are going through this same process and to hear about their experience.
I realize I am at this pivotal time in my life when I have one foot in my youth and one foot in my golden years. That’s a pretty powerful change, and its wise to take the process slowly. Doing so allows me to build a strong foundation of reflection, wisdom and thoughtfulness for the next stage of my life. This helps me value process in other parts of my life as well.
Four: It’s okay to look weird sometimes.
Because curated media images are so prevalent and we are bombarded with them daily, it is easy to feel like we must look perfect and put together all the time. But that’s not how life is. A beautiful, meaningful life has both messy and perfect moments, as well as moments of falling apart and coming together.
My silver hair has reminded me of that. Overall, I love my silver hair and think it gets more beautiful the more it grows out. But sometimes it looks pretty weird, I’ll be honest. Because I am committed to the process of growing it out, and since both my weird and beautiful moments have all been a part of my process, it reminds me that any meaningful endeavor is full of both perfect and radically imperfect moments. That is what makes the process nuanced, multi-faceted, and an authentic lived experience.
Five: Getting older is awesome because I worry less about what other people think.
One of the awesome things about aging is that the older I get, the less I worry about what people think.
I’ve realized that are two ways of being in the world. You can be a person who looks for beautiful things everywhere, or you can be a person who looks for what’s wrong in every situation.
To be honest, I’ve acted in both these ways in the past. Sometimes I still do. But most of the time, I try to look for beautiful things everywhere because life is just a lot more fun that way.
Before I started growing out my silver, I really wanted to do it, but I didn’t know many women my age or younger who were letting their hair go silver. So, I started looking for them. Suddenly I discovered all these articles, Instagram accounts, and Facebook groups of lovely, spunky, and joyful women my age rocking their silvers.
I love their hair, and it has helped me love my hair.
It has reminded me that we often (although not always) see what we look for. (And of course there are exceptions to this rule, and I write about these in other places on my blog.)
The older I get, the more I try to live a simple, kind, and honest life. And I when I am doing that, I know that what people think about me has much more to do with whether they are looking for good and beautiful things in life or for what is wrong in every situation. People often see what they are looking for. This makes me worry less about what people think, and it reminds me to look for beauty as much as I can.
At whatever stage of life you are in, I wish you beauty and magic.
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