My mom starting going grey when she was in her 30's. Being a pretty low-maintenance person, she's left it natural. I remember an uncharacteristic outburst from her one night at the dinner table when I was a kid. Her hairdresser had convinced her to try a "rinse," and none of us in the family had noticed. This was enough fuel for her to never try coloring it again. Taking after her, I saw my first few grey hairs when I was in my late 20's. But being far more vain than my mom, I've been keeping my secret under wraps with dark brown or black dye ever since.
As the years go by, my hair continues to get greyer- a shocking reminder that, try as I might to hide it, I am getting older. The coloring habit becomes problematic in that it creates an addiction to looking a certain way- a way in which my friends, family, and coworkers become accustomed to seeing me. I've considered going natural many times through the years, but feared the thought of all the attention it would bring- "oh my god! your hair! it's grey!" is not something I've wanted to hear or have to explain.
I have several reasons for wanting to go natural. Coloring my hair is a pain. It costs money. It ruins clothing, towels, and pillow cases. It dries out my hair and gives it a strange texture. It makes me feel like I'm trying to be someone I'm not.
Dyeing hair promotes ageism by perpetrating a societal myth of eternal youth. It devalues the virtues of being an adult such as maturity, wisdom, and patience. It encourages us to be in denial about something over which we have no control- the fact that we will all get old.
And hair color has its environmental drawbacks. Let's face it- it is a wasteful process. Despite the fact that I use plant-based "natural" color, it's packaged in non-recyclable plastic bottles. And far more people use chemical hair color, a potentially harmful practice I'm allying myself with if I continue to do this.
So this time- as I've watched my roots grow in grey- I'm deciding to give it a shot and see what my natural color looks like. I had my hair cut today into a cute bob, making the process a little less scary.
So now I'd like to hear from you. Is there anyone out there who has made a similar choice? Are you tired of being tethered to a practice which runs counter to your own ethical or environmental beliefs? Have you been inspired by Helen Mirren? I know I have! Or are you one of the brave ones who has never colored your hair? Do you think it's harder for women to go grey than it is for men? Let me know what you think!