Aah Aaah, We Fade To Grey: On Growing Out And Loving My Grey Hair.
I’ve been dying my hair since I was 17, it started out as a bit of fun, trying highlights at the same time as all my friends, then I was a hair model (lol, I know!) for a time and went through all sorts of wacky styles and colours, it was the late 90s and some of the looks I had were… well, interesting, but always good fun, I really enjoyed and still do enjoy playing with my hair and trying out different styles.
Around my mid 20s I started noticing greys peeking through in my roots when they’d be growing out. It was inevitable really, both my parents have white hair, my dad for almost as long as I can remember, and Mum started transitioning away from dye in her late 40s, both of them started greying young. So at this point, driven by ageist and sexist (because they certainly don’t apply to men) beauty standards, I thought the dyeing I’d had so much fun with, was now a necessity, something I had to do to cover up the grey. And so I continued doing it for another decade, almost two decades of colouring my hair, countless hours spent at the hairdressers or in my own bathroom with a box dye when money was a bit tight. All that time, I’ll never get it back. I know a lot of women love the ritual and relaxation of the hairdressers, more power to you but I am not about that life. I’d personally rather be anywhere else than sitting in a hairdressers colouring and treating my hair!
After I had my first child I underwent a radical shift in perspective about beauty and bodies, I had always considered myself a feminist but had long held myself up to an almost impossible aesthetic standard, pregnancy changed my body so much and I also knew I didnt want my own child to grow up hating the way they looked the way I had, something had to give. When I began to come to the realisation that I had been fed a toxic discourse my whole life and that I had an eating disorder the whole house of bloody cards fell really. While always impatient in the hairdressers, and always a bit riled by the price of it, it started to genuinely infuriate me the lengths women are expected to go to, not to mention the cost incurred. I don’t like being angry, I needed to stop colouring my hair for the sake of my sanity!
Can I just take a small moment to interject here and just say that this is not a criticism of anyone else choosing to partake in beauty rituals like hair colouring etc, you please do you, I am criticising a culture, a systemic issue that is rooted in both sexism and ageism. I am criticising that it is expected of women but not of men, and that being seen to visibly get older is considered a bad thing, we are constantly bombarded with anti-aging products and covering up the greys seems to be just a foregone conclusion, those of us who decide not to are looked upon as a bit eccentric. I still think so much of beauty and hair is decorative and fun and lovely, and I do sometimes miss that element of hair colouring. I’m not down with slagging off traditionally feminine pursuits, there is value in them, I just personally wanted to move away from this particular one.
Anyway!! In consultation with my lovely hairdresser, who is always honest and fair, I decided to start growing out my grey and stop colouring my hair in summer 2016, I didn’t start the cold turkey no dyeing process until January 2017 though. My hairdresser matched my hair colour as best he could and we worked with a bit of balayage to get things started and then from January of last year we stopped colouring it altogether. It coincided with me growing out a pixie cut as well so safe to say 2017 was not a good hair year for me. There were many frustrating awkward phases where I wanted to colour it or chop it all off again but I got through them and now, we reckon, my next haircut the very last of the colour will be cut out of my hair. Being pregnant helped as the hormones meant my hair grew out quite fast all things considered, my hair usually grows at a snail’s pace so it was a relief and a silver lining to an otherwise pretty miserable pregnancy.
So now at the age of 37 I’m in Club Grey and I’m delighted about it, I genuinely really love my natural hair now, people tell me I’m lucky because I have “nice” grey hair. I don’t have millennial silver hair like what is all over the Instagram greyhairdontcare hashtag, I have proper, this lady is getting old grey hair, I have streaks around the temples and then greys scattered around the top of my head so I guess I am lucky in a sense but I like ALL types of grey hair and to be honest, bollocks to applying more bloody ideals to what our grey hair “should” look like!! I got trolled online about it, was told “it really ages you, hun.” That was pretty funny, especially as it’s something I feel so confident, happy and strongly about that no amount of trolling could ruffle my feathers on this. I’m grey and proud.
Are you also making the transition to grey? Or is it something you would consider? Do you also think it’s bullshit that women are expected to colour their hair but men aren’t? I’d love to chat in the comments.