“Are you letting yourself go… grey?”
The pause in her question made me stumble for a second. Am I letting myself go? Well, that’s a bold question to ask someone. Letting go? Letting go of what?
My hair color.
After a bit of a delay followed by a somewhat awkward laugh, I responded to her question. The exchange lasted only a minute or two, but the question stuck with me all day.
I am 50 years old.
And yes, I am letting myself go grey.
The decision to allow my natural hair color to reign is decades in the making. I saw my first strand of silver when I was 16 years old and promptly started using Sun-In and lemon juice to mask the horror of my discovery. In my 20’s I followed the footsteps of my grandmother, spending hours in front of my bathroom mirror with plastic gloves and a cap making sure to color every speck of hair with chemicals I mixed together in a clear plastic bottle.
Every few months I would purchase another box of hair color.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
When my second child was born in my early 30’s, I searched for the most vibrant shade of autumn I could find on the grocery store shelves, so when asked by strangers, “Where on earth did your son get his gorgeous red hair?” I could point to mine with a smile.
But with each passing year, it became more and more difficult to hide the silver strands. I was also growing weary of how long it took to do the applications myself, especially with two active children clamoring for attention. A few years later, when we moved back to our hometown, I found a local stylist who assured me that a professional dye job would solve all my hair-aging woes. And it did.
Until I got pregnant with my third child.
There I was, sitting in the leather-padded chair, the black cape wrapped around my shoulders and snapped snug around my neck, listening to the hair stylist say, “Well, there’s always a small chance the hair dye will have a bad reaction if you are pregnant, but it’s never happened to any of my clients.”
Famous. Last. Words.
I spent my entire pregnancy with burgundy hair, too terrified to make another change that would be even more disastrous.
I was 36 years old. My doctors reminded me at every visit that I was “advanced maternal age” even though, in retrospect, I still had so many incredible life moments yet to experience at that time.
Was I old? Was I young? At what age could one have a mid-life crisis about hair color?
I ended up switching hair stylists after my third child was born and I’ve been with her ever since. Hayley was able to correct my dramatic hair color and return my locks to light brown, encouraging me to try blond highlights and caramel low lights to blend the colors as my hair continued to grow.
Then the world shut down in 2020.
No hair dye.
During those long weeks and months, I made an incredible discovery. Thanks to the strategic coloring of my stylist for the past ten years, my hair color was actually blended as it continued to grow. There was no visible line between then versus now. The grey had been there all along, just waiting for a time such as this to sparkle a bit more on its own. It shimmered in the sunlight and reminded me of the beauty we all possess when we embrace who we are and who we will become.
I am 50 years old.
I have spent half a century growing into the person I am today.
How blessed am I to live long enough to let go of the things that once served their purpose, but no longer define my worth!
Growing old is a privilege that many don’t achieve. I am humbled by the daily reminder that life is constantly about change; what defines us is how we embrace those things we can’t always control.
If you are someone who chooses to color your hair, no judgment – rock on! If you embraced your natural color years ago, thanks for leading the way. However, if you are struggling with the decision to let yourself go… grey, just know you’ve got a silver sister over here ready to celebrate the beauty you bring to this world.