So before I go any further I should tell you I’ve had grey hair since I was in my early 20s, which I assume was genetic. Most people don’t know that because it was just a few strands and really easy to disguise up to my late 30s. I suppose I didn’t concern myself with it because I spent those years in full survival mode after a very trauma filled childhood, but that is a story for another time.
I started coloring my hair in my late 30s and was extremely diligent about it. My hair was one of the things that friends, family and strangers complemented frequently. Hair stylists also showered compliments when I got my hair done. They would all but refuse to cut it when I asked them to take off a few inches since the length was usually somewhere around the middle of my back. This long thick black mane became a huge part of who I am so I was diligent about maintaining
The Year 2020
Now fast forward to 2020’s pandemic lockdown with beauty salons closed for months and me at home with many free hours to watch my hair develop a wide stripe of grey around my entire head. Since I am also not savvy at doing my own hair very well a ponytail everyday was the path I took. Of course this style really gave a great view of the grey frame that had grown in and I wasn’t sure how to feel about it and started to realize I had no idea what my hair was like without the black coverage and heat straightening I was so committed to for so many years.
The first appointment I got when the salons opened was for a color and blow out. When I got there and sat down something came over me and I said “no color and just cut it all off”. Of course the stylist debated with me for some time about it because she was sure I was confused about how short I was telling her to cut it. When she finally gave in and cut it I had less than an inch in length and she was almost afraid I was going to be completely vexed and regretful. She immediately suggested we color it but I refused. Who was this person in the mirror with natural wavy/curly hair that was now truly salt and pepper? I felt strangely free but unaware of who I was looking at.
I decided on the drive home I really liked how I felt until I looked at myself in the mirror. This grey hair might be too much of a shock. Although I had always admired other women with grey hair and thought it to be beautiful it just wasn’t me...was it? Was I old? Did I look older than my age? What have I done? Who am I without this long black hair that was admired and complimented? What will people think of me? What do I think of myself?
When I got home my daughter, who did not know about the haircut, jumped up and shouted “MOM”!! “You cut all your hair off! It looks amazing! I really like it!” What about the grey I asked. It looks really good was her response. I walked over to the mirror thinking maybe it would look different now that I’m home but it was still shocking and grey. I still felt great about cutting it though so I decided to live with it to see how it went. I told only one other person over video call and could tell by their reaction they weren’t sure how to feel about it and the shock was blocking an opinion about what they really thought. After that I decided no one else needs to know till I decided what I thought of it. This secret was easily kept because everyone was home due to the pandemic.
After about 3 weeks I decided I was feeling better about my grey hair and would begin to reveal it to the outside world. People had some interesting reactions and I saw on their faces and in their reactions the biases they had for grey hair and was told repeatedly to color it and let it grow back. Others advised me I was too young to embrace grey hair. Some were slow to render a decision because of how shocked they were and I’m sure some disliked it but were trying to be kind. One person just came out and told me I looked old. I can’t take issue with what anyone thinks of it because people like what they like. I just found it interesting that so few people liked it and it was less about the haircut and more about the grey hair.
I have decided to admire my own grey hair and get to know who I am with this wavy/curly grey hair. After all my reaction to it is all that really matters. So I will continue my journey and see where it takes me.