Should I let my Grey out?

I’ve been colouring my hair since I was 19 years old. First it was rebel-black, then I got into the punk thing and it was fire-engine red, midnight blue, velvet purple…as I mellowed out it went to various shades of red, then auburns, and now bronzy browns.

Every now and then for the last ten years or so, when I’ve let the roots grow out a bit too long, I’ve seen that I have a lot of grey hairs. When I was pregnant with my son I decided to stop colouring my hair. I was inspired by some women I knew who were grey and I thought their hair was lovely and distinguished looking. I mean check her out (no idea who it is), doesn’t she look pretty?

But after several months, when I had roots that were a few inches long, I couldn’t stand it. I looked washed out. Like I had no colour in my skin. I also didn’t have the lovely silver hair of those women I knew, or the dark grey/silver combo, or the light streaked look in the photo above. I sure didn’t look like this. Instead I had a mousy brownish colour with lots of grey frizzy bits. I went back to colouring my hair.

Well, with all the things I’m doing in my life to live more sustainably and simply, colouring my hair is the one thing that seems to fly in the face of all the rest. It’s been a while since I coloured my hair and before I go out and buy that next bottle of dye I’ve been questioning why I do this.

I’m trying to identify the line between trying to meet other peoples’ expectations of beauty versus my feeling good about myself. How much of how I feel about myself (like when I feel good about my appearance) is based on society’s messages about what looks good? Or worse, to what extent am I a victim of marketing that says grey hair is not attractive?

It doesn’t help that I’ve always looked younger than my age. Most people are very surprised to hear I am 40. I pass for early-to-mid thirties. I’ve always liked that about myself. If I go grey, I immediately “look my age”. In fact I’ve seen women younger than me who have gone grey and they look older than me. I’m not at all embarrassed about my age – I love being 40 and readily admit it to anybody. So why do I care if I suddenly look older?

And what about this “feeing attractive”? With what criteria do I evaluate myself? I know with weight I have a number I’m very comfortable with and feel good about. It’s more than the charts say I should be. I don’t care. I just feel good at that weight. I don’t wear any makeup nor do I obsess over clothing. So I don’t think I’m overly influenced by society’s notions of what constitutes beauty.

I think when I’m honest about it, I just like feeling attractive. And I don’t feel attractive when I let my hair grow out in its present state. Even though I am not out to “bag a dude”, I still want to feel like I could if I tried, kwim? I’m wondering if I can learn to live with my grey, or even like my grey, or feel attractive with my grey in its present state? Maybe it’s a mindset? Or maybe I should just wait until I have all silver hair and then let it grow out?


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Abby on April 9, 2008 at 10:00 am

    My mom decided to wait till she was 65 to go grey! LOL. I swear I’ll never dye my hair, but I only have one or two strands that anyone can see.

    But my vote? Natural is always beautiful. But then again…I don’t buy into the mainstream much.

    Either way, it’s your call.


  2. This post could’ve come right out of my brain! I’m 41 and also have been told I look younger than my age. I really like that when it happens. I’m sure that a big part of it is because I dye my hair regularly. I started coloroing it when I was about 30, just for fun. NOthing radical, just a shade or two darker or lighter or redder than my natural brown. But after a while I noticed that if I let it go too long I had two sections of hair, right around each temple, that had a lot of grey/white hairs. I had visions of the Bride of Frankenstein if I stopped coloring my hair. So I didn’t. It costs a lot of money every six weeks and I’m starting to resent paying it. But yet, I’m not ready to look like the bride of frankenstein either. Some days I’d like to just shave it all off and be done with it. But I’m too chicken for that. So for now I keep paying and coloring every six weeks, like clockwork. *sigh*


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