Lately, I have been thinking about how we put our thoughts out there into the world. With social media, it is as easy as hitting ‘enter’ to say whatever we want to whomever we want, and sometimes it goes way beyond our intended audience. I am part of several silver hair groups now and combined they hover in the 20,000 membership range. I often see themes surrounding the transition to gray go through these groups. One such theme is comparison, and it shows up in some interesting (and sometimes nasty) ways.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy!” Unfortunately, we use comparison in our society to judge others and ourselves, most often harshly, to a point that it seriously starts to take a terrible physical and mental toll.
It is enough the outside world compares us to fictional characters like Cruella De Ville, Ursula, and the Bride of Frankenstein…which to me aren’t insulting comparisons…albeit a little snarky in some cases, but you can see how someone could be offended.
It isn’t just the outside world making these comparisons. I see comparisons and masked self-deprecation about what someone thinks their hair should look like, compared to another person’s hair.
- “I’m so surprised, I thought my hair was white, but it is dark and drab.”
- “We all have to make it through the ugly phase!”
- “I thought my hair was all one color like hers, but it is a dark ugly brown”
- “Yeah, but this works for you to be silver because you are still so young.”
- “Oh yeah, I would do the overnight process that she did if I had a couple thousand dollars lying around.”
What astonishes me is what we say aloud, not just about ourselves but other people. For instance, why are celebrities fair game? Why is it the minute they do something human they become a target for rude comments? It can be anything, from their plastic surgery, to their quick trip from dyed hair to their “natural color,” all the way to the notion that their money can solve all their problems. I’ve even seen their personalities or personal philosophy dissected over the color of their hair, and one has nothing to do with the other. Fame doesn’t instantly make a person invincible!!
Comparison is a tricky bit of business in the art of evolution. It is like a virus, on the one hand, we need the virus to keep us rebuilding our immune system, “Survival of the fittest, baby.” But it also has the ever so sick side; the side that says we aren’t good enough, or pretty enough, or skinny enough, or rich enough, or young enough, or even old enough.
To be an evolutionary society we have to compare and compete.
When it helps…you advance to the next phase in your life whether it is your health, career, family, personal development, sport, or level of education. When it hinders…we destroy ourselves mentally, physically, and emotionally. I’m all for it when it does actually help you evolve into your best self. However, what I am not for is judgment wrapped around any comparison where it becomes cruel or judgmental.
We already have all these negative tapes running in our minds, and often they spill out of our mouths or onto the keyboard. Why are we so cruel to ourselves? Do we think no one is listening? Do we think we can get away with the self-deprecation because we are the only ones who have to live with it? I’ll stop right here to let you know it is one more lie you are telling yourself, if you believe no one is listening…your children are listening, your spouse is listening, YOU are listening.
Support for Transitioning to Gray Hair
I believe in the good in people. I believe we are all in this together. This leaves me shocked sometimes because not everyone believes in the good in themselves or others.
I suppose that is why I found some of my best people in a loving and supportive group. The support group got me through my transition, and they would take me from self-doubt to self-confidence in a single selfie post. While sometimes, kindness means slowing down and rethinking what we mean to say, I discovered very quickly choosing kindness is contagious, it ripples out into the universe becoming compounding and infinite. This silver hair community was one of the first places I had ever experienced that lifting of each other up, no matter our differences.
We all need a little help from a friend or the entire community sometimes. The thing is the definition of support looks different for everyone. Whether you are trying to lose weight, cope with aging, or transition to gray hair.
We all have our own needs. Just like with weight loss, you might have the gumption and will power to stop eating carbs (or whatever) and walk 10,000 steps a day starting NOW. Or maybe you need some support. You might hire the best weight loss coach, you might join a weight-loss support program, and/or you might see your doctor and seek surgical intervention.
Same thing with aging, you might be an individual who is just going with the flow embracing every new little sign that you made it through one more day on this planet. Or you might be avoiding mirrors. You might be buying all the wrinkle-be-gone magic potions. Or you might feel the need to see your doctor and have a little surgical intervention.
It is the same with gray hair, you might be just sucking it up and going full on cold-turkey. You may have ditched the dye the same way some just throw out the last pack of cigarettes. Or you might be like me and had a little bit of a warm-turkey process to help get you through the first little bit before you totally ditched the dye. Or you might be like some of the most recent celebrities and have enough money, or know the exact right stylist to transition you seemingly overnight. Call it a little surgical intervention, if you will, just don’t call it fried-turkey.
Going Gray Has Truly Gone Beyond a Trend
You are so lucky to be going through your transition today. Those of us who have fully transitioned in the last few years have started a revolution. We have been blazing this trail, making it easier, making the support system massive and amazing. We have even shifted the demand for hair care products.
Products have nearly quadrupled; in response to this new era in hair color, from Olaplex to Overtone, you now have endless options and opportunities to help you feel your best. Just five years ago, when I started my journey to my natural hair, Olaplex was so fresh on the scene I knew more about it than any of the stylists I spoke too. Trust me when I tell you I called all over this city, looking for someone who could help me get rid of the red faster than I could grow it out. No one had even heard of it.
Now stylists are paving the way so all stylists can learn and achieve the overnight transition on clients. I am totally on board for making things easier, safely of course, for those who need quick and easy. Some have very high profile or public jobs where they need to look and feel their best. Just be smart, if you do need a little surgical intervention; just make sure you see a specialist. Fried hair, is a thing, a chemical haircut is no one’s ideal way through this process.
Stop the Hate, the Ugly, and the Old Language
I never felt bad about the color on my head as it shifted from boxed red to shiny silver, but I work from home, the only people who see me daily are the baristas at Starbucks and my husband. All of which, didn’t mind one bit if I embraced my silver hair. I also live in New Mexico, where this is a hair color…simple as that…gray is a color too.
I have learned through this process, everyone is unique, and box dye was a lie to make you believe you could be like everyone else. Cosmetic company advertising has made us believe in the almighty four ̶ black, brown, blonde, or red. Advertisements still include language like hate, ugly, and old.
- “Hate those pesky grays? Banish them with RN #5!”
- “Do you feel ugly when you see that dreaded skunk stripe? Root touch up will instantly make you feel better.”
- “Gray hair making you look old and worn out? Get to the salon today for a youth-filled high gloss shine.”
So How do you Avoid the “Ugly Phase”
…STOP calling it the “Ugly Phase”!
You simply cannot keep feeding yourself this self-deprecation. I see people post about the “ugly phase”…I just want to scream…don’t call yourself ugly, old, or hate on your unique qualities. I don’t want to tell you how you should feel! We all have blah days, we all have the less than stellar moments, but they don’t make us ugly, they make us human. I do want to ask you; what would happen if you stopped using language that denigrates you? What if you stopped telling yourself you were old, or too fat, or your hair is ugly? What would happen then? Would your daughter, sister, or even your mother stop doing the same thing to themselves?
How we compare ourselves to others, either, destroys the positive outcome or it supports it.
Remember this: it might not be YOUR outcome, which is destroyed.
What you say about yourself, a fellow member in a support group, a celebrity, someone out there in the world is comparing themselves to YOU and what you think. They take it all in, and you may never know if it is the difference between their success or their failure. So post your bad days, but own them as a temporary thing. Celebrate and post your positives, you never know who will be reading them.
Turn it Around
On that note, if you want to make a positive comparison, I encourage you to name your own color. If you are still transitioning, call it calico or your coat of many colors. Call it the “silver downloading phase” rather than the “ugly phase.” Once you see your natural color in all its glory, if the word gray doesn’t work for you try slate, platinum, brushed steel, chrome, cotton, pearl, snow, or driftwood. If salt and pepper doesn’t work for you, try chalk and slate, cinnamon and sugar, milk and honey, latte and whipped cream, or chocolate and vanilla. Silver works for anybody whose hair is healthy because it will shimmer and shine, no matter if it is all white or steely gray.
This last week marks five years since I fully ditched the dye. It marks a moment in time, when I embraced whatever Mother Nature had in store for me. And Chocolate Vanilla Swirl works just fine for me. 😉
Shine on silver sisters.
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I hope you found this post educational and helpful.
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As always it is about so much more than the hair.
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