Written by Kate O’Donnell
Whilst “going grey” is a natural progression, humankind has fought it defiantly. The weaponry? Hair dye, henna concoctions, boot polish (we’re not joking), hairpieces, and wigs to name a few.
Concealing and hiding greys has been a long-standing battle. In the 20’s and 40’s talking grey was taboo and one tended to their grey secretly. Now, however, there is a building momentum to ditch the hair dye and embrace the grey. The trend of grey pride is building, and with icons such as Jamie Lee Curtis, George Clooney, Tara Moss, Tracey Spicer, Selma Hayek, and Gwenyth Paltrow embracing the grey, we thought it an interesting topic to ponder.
According to Penn Medicine, the average age to begin going grey is in your 30’s. After 30, your chances of having grey hair goes up to 10 to 20% every decade. Most studies suggest half of the population will have 50% grey hair by the age of 50.
It seems that fighting grey is a rather uphill battle. And an expensive one at that!
Given the statistics, it does seem rather silly to consider how going grey naturally is becoming a phenomenon! From interviews with celebs to support groups on Facebook, Women (predominantly) have taken to social media and rallied. For what? For some going grey naturally has given a sense of empowerment, self-acceptance, and radical defiance of not conforming to an outdated ideal. For others, grey hair was liberating. Not wasting time and money at the hairdressers or worrying about maintaining hair colour and covering grey roots.
In a Ted talk, Tracey Spicer stunned viewers when she un-transformed. Her goal was to show how many hours it takes and how much income is spent on looking the way society thinks you should.
“I started going grey in my late 20’s, we have it in the family it’s genetic so I’ve always dyed my hair. When I was in my last 40’s I thought my God this is time-consuming, it’s expensive and it’s inauthentic.”
Rise of the silver Vixen!
Grey hair can be seen from many different lenses. Some cultures view grey alongside wisdom, elder leadership, and right of passage. However, in the western world, we predominantly relate grey hair with ageing and no longer standing in our prime.
Whilst there have been many positive stories of going grey gracefully, it has not been without backlash.
Sue, an Australian woman in her 60’s spoke with Ponderings about her grey- journey. Sue chose to stop dyeing her hair in her 50’s and was shocked when she received hurtful comments of “letting herself go” and being advised to dye her hair so she didn’t look so old. These comments were from her workplace AND friends. Perhaps 50 with shades of Grey is not nearly as exciting as the movie…
In her 60’s, with a complete head of silver, we asked Sue if embracing her grey was as empowering as it was cracked up to be.
The answer may disappoint.
Turns out since going grey naturally, Sue feels invisible in the community. Often dismissed and considered old and out of touch.
“I’ve been referred to as an old lady more times than i’d like to count. Now all of my hair is grey I am talked down to in shops, referred to as “Sweety, Dear and Darling”. None of these titles are endearing and rather patronising.
It appears that with grey pride, comes a free invisibility cloak and a ticket to ageism.
Perhaps it’s not the colour that is the problem, but rather the reflection of grey = ageing and in the Western world’s view on age. Wouldn’t it be lovely if the attitude towards age was like the same appreciation of an aged good wine with rich tannins?
We ponder on the movement of women claiming back their grooming en masse and if it will alter acceptance and a higher level of respect rather than a lesser one.
What are some of your experiences? We would love to ponder these with you…let’s start a conversation!
P.S personally we think you should rock that silver or dye your hair purple if it brings you joy.
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