After ditching the dye, the grey hair journey is one in which many women are surprised by their ascent into another Layer of Authenticity. I went through a massive amount of life altering changes in my 30’s and that seemed to be when I started recognizing my authentic self. As I reached 40, it became more and more so. One aspect was stopping the dying process. Authenticity is a metamorphosis. It is not attained overnight or by one choice but rather over a lifetime and every choice.
You might think I’m speaking gibberish talking about something so existential, but it happens. Many of us begin this natural hair journey with at least one reason if not a multitude of reasons. For me, the women and men in my family all prematurely greyed, so I knew it was inevitable. I do think it is totally up to you whether or not you dye your hair, so I’m not harping on that as the only way to authenticity.
Back to my thirties, as I cleaned up my health by working out, doing yoga, therapies to get out of chronic pain, emotional work to move past anxiety and traumas, I also changed what I was putting in and on my body. I started with quitting smoking and began eating organic and gluten free food. This led to eating at home, and never eating out (most of which was due to food allergies). This esoteric lifestyle turned me into a more natural approach type person all the way around, which was not far from who I really was anyway, growing up with a mom in the natural health food and healing industry.
I chose to ditch the dye for several reasons, all of which supported my whole-life philosophy.
- Ditch the Chemicals: Dyes, all of them are chemicals, and why would I be dumping a chemistry set on my head every three weeks if I wasn’t willing to ingest them anymore?
- No More Slave to the Bottle: It is a form of societal slavery; society wants women to believe they aren’t good enough as they are in their natural state. You are considered older looking, unattractive, not good enough or pretty enough or enough for that matter if you don’t dump the dye on and bleach the highlights in, or slather on the lotions and potions. Why would I keep playing a game I don’t want to play?
- My Hair Wanted Freedom: My hair was beginning to have a mind of its own. It was rebelling against my dye within days, the white hair would pop up and announce, “I’m still here, you cannot hide me!” Why was I continuing this never-ending battle?
- Artistry: As an artist, I believe each human being is a unique piece of art. Sure, we can add to the artwork with hair dye, makeup, tattoos, and clothing and it’s all a wonderful way to express ourselves. I watch others and think what a gorgeous painting the Universe painted when they were created and I enjoy seeing what people do to express their inner world via their outward persona. However, with my hair, what I saw peeking through the dye was pretty awesome. So, why in all things holy, was I covering up brushstrokes of the Universe?
I have observed as other women grow their silver in; they come alive, brighten up, and shockingly enough they do not look older than they are. Their natural hair color matches their skin tone and makes their eyes sparkle and shine. What I have seen in myself, and in the women, I have become friends with and supported through their growing out their natural color is that society is wrong. Women can be just as sophisticated, elegant, stylish, and lovely as men are considered handsome, debonair, distinguished, and mature when they let their silver shine through.
I found myself in many more layers of claiming myself as I went through this journey. Each snippet of hair dye that fell away, something in me began to sparkle and come alive. I noticed the same thing in my new silver sisters going through this journey. I distinctly remember one of my silver sisters not wanting to leave the house, wearing knitted caps, and not wanting anyone she knew to see her especially during the first few months as her skunk stripe grew every wider. Almost miraculously, as she embraced her authenticity, she found out how gorgeous she is coming so far out of her shell she is now enjoying modeling. She shares with me, “To my surprise, I am showing the world that my hair color and age no longer define me. I want to celebrate that fact loudly and unashamedly.” She shed so much more than dye, I watched as she shed a mountain of pressure she had felt from the world telling her since she was 50 plus that it was ‘this way and that,’ ‘you’re too old for that,’ or ‘that’s not appropriate for a mature woman!’ I watched her grow in self-confidence as the feelings of liberation and empowerment grew within her. She’s a definite example of thumbing your nose at society and doing it your own way. That’s true authenticity. And she is one example of many.
I went through a major turning point in my life at month 9 of my journey ̶ I had a complete hysterectomy. Talk about owning yourself. I had suffered all of my adult life with endometriosis. For several years before my surgery anemia, pain, insomnia, IBS, and other related problems were taking me down. It was all taking me out of myself as much, if not more, all the while I was struggling to get into myself. I remember lying awake in the hospital after surgery and thinking, “this is it, you are starting a new life, you are going to gain your strength again, and get going again.” Thank goodness, I have, little by little. This story of physical care is much more common with women during the process of growing out grey hair than I could have ever imagined or connected without having experienced it for myself. I think as we shed the expectations of aging, just go with the flow, and accept this new version of ourselves we start to make decisions that will help us be as healthy as possible and enjoy the process as much as possible.
My own journey of being more authentic has led me to, if I dare say it, a reinvention of self. I’m not putting on a new mask, I’m just stepping into a new me. A me without dye or pain, one with energy, and verve. I am actually feeling a zest for life and a wanderlust, which had been dampened by the challenges of my thirties. Not that having dye-free hair has anything whatsoever to do with my sense of adventure or want of a LIFE, rather it was a tandem experience as I felt myself start to sparkle and shine with silvery tresses. I was shedding an old way of living and beginning something way more than to do with hair.
To me, authenticity means answering the call of my own dreams, dancing to my own music, creating my own song, listening to my heart guide my journey, knowing that whatever direction I take it was meant to be. My authenticity is my truth, my creativity, my journey, my ultimate LIFE. It is the best possible ME, the ME that looks good on ME.
Who is your best possible you, who is the you that looks good on you?