If you’ve ever caught yourself thinking “I could never go gray” or “Gray hair is ugly…” This post is for you! Shining a light on some beautiful role models, talking about gray hair stigma and how to change it, my own personal paradigm shift and where to get support. It’s all here!
By: Lisa Fennessy
Just sitting over here eating crow. It’s been about 20 months since I stopped dying my hair and….I’m loving it. Who knew!?
I mean besides all the obvious bennies like:
- Saving 3 hours of my life every month getting my hair done..
- And saving $1000+ a year on hair dye…
There is the emotional component like:
- Eliminating the negative relationship I had with my hair as my grays started coming in stronger and stronger.
- Eliminating the obsessive thoughts about my visible grays that would consume my conversations and distract me from being present.
And of course there is also…
- Saving the planet by not washing toxic chemicals into our water and ecosystems.
- And not exposing my body to some serious toxins (more here on that).
But then there are the surprises like…
- Gray hair softens my aging face and actually *dare I say* makes me look better, maybe even..younger!?
- I finally have the dimension I’ve always wanted now that my hair is multi-toned and buns and ponies are so fun now.
- Gray hair looks more natural and less forced on me.
- I get reinforcement and compliments from strangers almost daily.
- I have women telling me they found the confidence to go gray through my experience.
- I have women telling me their mother had the confidence to go gray through my experience.
- I’m not even exaggerating, going gray is actually kinda fun. And you get to learn something new about yourself like natural hair colors and patterns.
- A bright lip and gray hair is the new age peanut butter and jelly.
- Realizing we need more role models and women to look up to for examples of going gray.
Flip the script
And if you asked me about any of that 2 years ago, there is no way I would have believed that any of the later were true. My organic-self held on to the one cheat that I would take to the grave; There is NO WAY I will ever stop dying my hair! I legit wrote that in an organic mom’s Facebook group like 5 years ago – I could probably find it but just take my word for it. That was me.
I was so anti-gray, my internal and sometimes even external thoughts sounded like this;
- Yeah, it looks good on her but there is no way I could pull that off.
- Gray hair looks mousy and dirty.
- Well, she could rub dirt on her face and put a trash bag on and still look stunning.
- It’s too bad she let herself go.
- It looks so good on her because she is young.
- If she just dyed her hair she would look so much better.
And it’s these thoughts that I want to talk about today. It’s this construct that so many of us buy into. That one that says; gray is ugly, gray is less-than, gray is old, gray is letting yourself go. It’s that little (or big) voice in your head that keeps repeating, “I could never..“
But just imagine for a second that there are two windows looking into society. Look through one window #1 and you see gray hair equals “less than” . BUT look through window #2 and you see that gray hair beautiful and in fact the jumping off point into a whole new mindset. Gray is a natural progression. And instead of looking old and haggard. It’s cute, edgy, fun and bold. And people get excited to rock their second do.
And you know what’s crazy about this scenario? It actually exists. Guys. People actually LOVE gray hair. I know! It’s crazy! But it’s true. And the even crazier part is, love it or hate it, YOU get to pick which belief you want to uphold.
But here’s the catch: it’s a transition of blind faith because you won’t believe it until you try it. However, once you do, don’t be surprised when you start hearing things like this…
- I ordered a soup from this lunch spot the other day and the guy at the register legit stopped mid transaction and goes, “I really like your hair. Is that natural?”
- Window shopping a woman passed by me with her girlfriend and goes, “I love your look. Gray hair, gray dress. Doesn’t she look stunning?”
- “My mom is a cancer survivor and we love following you. We both decided to go gray this year too. You make it look fun and attainable!”
- “That’s it. Your hair looks so good. I am totally growing my hair out too – starting TODAY.”
- “I don’t have any support at home but I find it here with you. Thank you for your example.”
- “I hope my hair looks like yours when I go gray.”
- “You make me wish I had gray hair!”
- “I didn’t even know going gray was an option until I started following along with you.”
And on and on you guys. So what’s the bigger picture?
We need more role models
This post is not an opportunity for me to tell the world how good my hair looks. Hair is the conduit, while the true root is the social construct (so many of us seem to buy into) that we could never go gray.
And the only thing that will induce a paradigm shift is examples. We need women, mothers and sisters to look to as role models. We need women of all different colors, ethnicities and walks of life to show that world that gray is freakin’ HOT!
What changed my mind…
You know what planted the seed for me? What made me start to even think, “What if I went gray?’ I saw a 45 year old woman sitting at a bar in Hingham, MA. Her skin was gorgeous. Her makeup? On-point. She was laughing and enjoying a drink with her hubs. She was stylish sporting a cute bomber jacket…and she had a full head of curly gray hair.
Her presence struck me. Like, I couldn’t help myself. All of a sudden I felt my legs walking right up to her and heard the words “Can I have your number?” coming out of my mouth. I wanted to talk to her about how she did it. I mean, suddenly, I needed ALL THE DETAILS. Like, what did you wear? How did you feel? What did your kids say? Was your husband on board? What did your friends say? Was it hard? And she turned to me and talked about her journey for about 20 minutes – I couldn’t believe it. Confident, beautiful, gray and a real leader. That was the first time I thought to myself, “I could do that.” I write more about this real life inspiration here.
Shining a light on all the examples…
Several years later, my goal here is not to evangelize those who aren’t interested. Girl, you do you. I’m talking to all the ladies out there who are thinking about going gray. And more importantly, I’m here for all our daughters. I want to normalize the options. And all it takes is living by example. And doing it with pride.
I saw it that one night in New England but we’ve all seen it. That girl who is just ROCKING IT. And if you haven’t, let me give you a few examples…
(Tell me you would’t pin these to your “hair board” – you know you would!)
RELATED: What NOT to Do While Going Gray
Introducing The Gray Book
So I want to do something about it. Bridge the gap. Highlight examples. Normalize going gray. So I decided to start The Gray Book. The Gray Book is inspiration, real women, examples, conversation and community around going gray.
The Gray Book is not about me, it’s about all of us. It’s about bringing real life role models to the forefront to inspire and lead by example. And it all starts with you.
I want to share your story, your look, your journey with woman all around the world. Going gray has never looked so good. And girl, it all starts inside you.
For more on going gray, check out these posts:
- Best eyebrow makeup for gray hair
- Growing Out Gray Hair: 10 Ways to Go Gray
- Going Gray: Why I Stopped Dying My Hair
- Going Gray: 3 Months And Counting
- Going Gray: 5 Months and Counting
- Going Gray: (at 40!) 8 Months and Counting
- Going Gray: It’s Been A Year!
- Going Gray: A Transformation both Inside and Out Video
- How to go gray: A year in review
- Real Life Inspiration for Going Gray
Common questions about going gray:
Most people don’t realize it but the hardest part about going gray is getting your mindset right. Here are some thoughts I had to grapple with.
The best thing you can do is join a going gray Facebook group. These groups provide support, inspiration, connection and they will change your mind about what having gray hair means! We like this one!
We think going gray will surprise you. You may find that it’s not about being old or boring. That it’s actually edgy, fun, and bold.