It’s been funny, no maybe, curious is the right word, to see how many folks are thinking about their silver roots while we’re in lockdown. It’s made me reflect on my own journey to silver which started about 6 or 7 years ago physically but probably a whole lot longer before that…
My mum has the best shade of silver white hair. She has been grey for as long as I can remember. She never dyed her hair nor was she particularly embarrassed by her grey hair either. She’d started her journey to grey from about the age of 28 (when I was born, coincidence?) and it didn’t seem to bother her too much. My father, by contrast, didn’t even begin to go grey til he was in his fifties, and even then, it was quite steely and not completely grey til much later. I always expected that I would be like my mother and go grey early. My dark brown hair was never quite dark enough for the vampy, gothic-style look I tried to achieve as a young woman and I experimented with many types of black hair dye to keep any semblance of brown far away. I started noticing regular grey hairs in my late thirties. While I was pregnant, I stopped dying my hair and saw a few greys poke through at the front. I’d have been quite happy with a Lily Munster-style white streak but what I saw didn’t quite match that and so post-baby, where the greys seemed even more prolific, it was back to dying.
This became a massive chore. Not one to get my hair salon-dyed, the regularity of having to dye my roots every three to four weeks started to grate. More of an impact though was the break-up of my marriage. I was 44 years old and hadn’t dated anyone for about ten years. It felt grim. In one particularly heated argument with my ex-, he basically told me I would probably join the ranks of all the other bitter, older women who were washed up and couldn’t get a partner, because hey, who wants to be with a wrinkly old crone when you can be with a svelte young thing. I was furious but also scared. What if he was right? What if I was going to be alone for the rest of my life? How do I compete with people younger than me?
It was at that moment that I thought ‘fuck it’. What the hell am I doing? I will not try to be something I am not. I am a mid-forties woman and that’s what I will be.
I didn’t let myself go (such a soap opera phrase!). Not at all. Actually since hitting my forties, I’m probably fitter than I ever was when I was in my twenties and thirties. And I didn’t throw out my skincare products, stop using makeup (though it’s mostly just lipstick now) or settle in for nights at home with the cat, ok, maybe for a while there. But it was whoosh, out with the hair dye.
I stepped into my own power and claimed it. Sounds corny but that’s what it was. I decided I would meet the world on my terms and if that was grey and wrinkled, that’s what it would be. And honestly, I haven’t really looked back. The transition has been gradual. I wasn’t as grey as I thought I was, which was a surprise. Some friends told me my hair made me look older. My own mum asked me if it was something I really wanted to do?! And I’ve had a few moments of wishing I could try other colours but stop myself when I remember how long it took to grow out the grey. And I do like using the word silver. The other bonus has been how many other women have also ditched the dye and gone silver. Everywhere I look, I am no longer alone. And I like to think I may have contributed to a few people’s decisions to go for silver too.