Thursday, February 26, 2009

Long + Grey = Beautiful

Surely I can't be the only one who finds this beautiful: long, thick, healthy, grey hair.

When did we become afraid of aging? Traditionally a woman's lifetime was divided into three (or four) parts: (child), maiden, mother, and wisewoman (aka crone). Each age had it's own purpose: an age for learning, an age for growing, and age for bearing children, and an age for teaching. Each age is beautiful in it's own way. Just as menarche indicates the transition from childhood to maidenhood, so grey hairs indicate the maturity and wisdom of a wisewoman.

(this is the hair I want!)

In ancient times cutting off ones hair was a sign of mourning. Now it seems that millions of women cut their hair as it turns grey. Are they mourning the passage into the next phase of life? There is nothing to mourn! It is true that our current society is quite negative about age (and denies it with everything from botox to viagra), but I am a believer in "be[ing] the change you wish to see in the world, " [Ghandi]. Here in rural Alaska there are strong influances from the native cultures, and one thing they really have right is respect for elders. I love that. I am glad that my son is seeing that respect beyond our own family, and hope that he will teach it to his children as well.
But we fear aging, and so we fear gray. My mother in law has been dying her hair since before Hubby was born. I doubt that even she knows what color her real hair truly is anymore. My husband started greying at his temples in his mid-20s. After we were married he got much greyer (apparently being married to me is stressful!) ☺ and now he has the "salt and pepper" look with silver temples. His mother is greatly bothered by the grey: all her older children dye their hair, so 'baby' Hubby is the only one who's grey. We were at a family gathering a couple of years ago when she told him that he really should start dying his hair, and surely his wife would appreciate it if he did. I smiled at her and said "actually I rather like the grey." ♥ She has not brought it up since.
My own mother dyed her hair for a few months but decided it was not worth the expense. Her light red hair is now streaked with white, but I think it is as beautiful as it has ever been. It's a new kind of beautiful, but it is beautiful nonetheless.

Oh, you may say, that's all well and good to go au natural when you're 50 or 60 or 80, but what if you're going grey in your 30s or 20s? I'd invite you to visit some of the links below before making up your mind. I just always remember that at some point one has to stop dying, right? And then, rather than a gradual changing hair-by-hair, there is a vicious stripe growing out from the roots. Honestly that stripe is one of the biggest reasons I don't ever plan to dye away my greys.
  • Consider the BlogHer article That Touch of Gray (it kinda suits you anyway)
  • Or how about the Going Gray Blog, where they proudly declare that "gray hair is the new black"
  • Check out the Everyday Goddess and her quest for natural hair (with the greys): she quit dying one day and it took her about a year and a half to grow it out long enough that she could cut off the dyed part (and still have a nice feminine haircut). She now describes her hair as "various shades of beautiful." I ♥ that! At least visit this post (the unabbreviated version of "BS" is used a couple of times...just fyi). She's young, unmarried, and living in LA. If she can do it, so can you!

I'm 27 and I've found a few greys. (For the newbies here, I wear my hair long--I'm currently on a quest to find my own terminal length and right now it's about hip-length). I currently use henna in my hair because of it's various nutritive benefits, but I don't think of it as a hair colorant (that's just a side-effect), and I don't intend to use it to cover grey. I use it in small doses so that it brightens my hair but doesn't fully 'cover' it. My hope is that with a few years of use my hair will be stronger and I won't need the henna anymore. I plan to go happily into old age with my own color on the long hair I love, twisted up into some graceful bun. Motherhood is now, but Wisewomanhood is next, and both are beautiful.


Carolyn said...

I would love to have my hair gray naturally. But- I'm worried about the thinning affect it may have on my hair! My hair is already thinning a bit in the front. I'm worried this will make it more obvious. Any suggestions for people like me?

Becky said...

Bless you for this post! I haven't dyed my hair in ten years and I don't suppose I'll ever do it again.

My great-aunt Hester had long, silky, beautiful grey hair cascading down her back. I want hair just like hers when I find my way to Wisewomanhood.

Mallory said...

Oh, I love this post! I remember once, when my family was waiting at the airport for my sister to return home from BYU, I saw a woman with long, thick, beautiful, grey hair (similar to the first picture in your post)! I told my mom that I wanted my hair to look like THAT when I get old!

I used to dye my hair all the time. I had used all kinds of chemicals for perms or coloring. Then, nearly two years ago, I buzzed all my hair off (well, to 1") and I vowed to never dye or perm it again. It's almost halfway down my back now. I love it. My natural color is a light auburn. I get compliments all the time, and I don't know why I wasn't satisfied with it before. Hopefully I will have beautiful, grey hair someday! :D

Becky N. said...

That first picture is particularly beautiful. I do love long hair on older women! And I do love *natural* colors on women, also. I remember admiring a woman at a hair salon with the most gorgeous silver, healthy hair. She was cutting it somewhat short.... but it still looked absolutely lovely. (What I *can't* stand is the "Relief Society Ball" as I've come to term the super-short, curly hair that it seems most older women nowadays sport.) I hope that when I'm older I'll have at least shoulder-length hair. Maybe even long hair, if I can stand the extra care it takes.

You probably remember my freak-out over finding my first grays about a month ago. I never thought I would freak out when I found the first grays. I know I don't mind being gray *someday*. I know I don't plan to ever dye my hair. So why did I freak out about it? I can only think that the reason is simply because I didn't think of myself in THAT stage of life, yet. In my head, I'm still the fairly young mother of three small children. The gray should come when they're teenagers or something, right?

But apparently it's pretty common to start getting grays at this age. I'm accepting it, slowly.

Mommy Bee said...

One thing that helps rejuvenate hair (help slow/reduce it turning grey) is the herb rosemary. You can look for a shampoo that has it in it, or get the essential oil and add a little to the shampoo/conditioner that you have. Or maybe mix it with some pure water and put it in a spritzer and spritz your hair regularly.

As for getting greys in our 20s...well, I think most of us do. I think we start getting those first few greys in our 20s, but nobody really notices except us. It's when we have teens that we finally have enough grey for everyone else to start noticing. :)

nicole said...

This is a great post! I have never understood our culture being so anti-ageing. I am actually excited about growing older. I honestly think there is something beautiful about the whole process. There is great purpose in that stage of life that I genuinely look forward to.

Anonymous said...

Hi, and thanks for the link! I am loving my hair more and more as it gets longer. I can't wait for it to be long again. Right now it's just past my shoulders.

Also, for Carolyn, I have thin hair and my hairline when I was dyeing was starting to make me feel embarrassed to wear a ponytail. Now that I've stopped dyeing, I have healthy hair growing in again. I almost want to cry about it, it's such a relief! So if you stop dyeing, your hair may get healthier and fill in more. Mine did!

Nancy said...

No, you're not alone. There's a commercial on with this woman who has the most beautiful gray hair! I want it too, I'm going gray naturally, but would love to have it all gray!

Colored With Memories said...

oh henna! my mom used that for years...i will never forget its of those fond childhood memories.

i love grey hair too...i don't actually have any, but i was recently saddened when one of my friends who grayed prematurely colored her hair brown after many years of being gray.

great post!

TiLT said...

Go Grey!
I'm in my later 30s and have quite a bit 'o grey. Funny part is - I used to color my hair all the time, just for the fun of it. But now with the grey - I have stopped :)
weird - but makes more sense to me know.
My mom started in her early 20s & now at 63 is starting to wonder when to stop coloring her now total grey.

And I am with you - if my hair looks anything like those womens - I'm keeping the grey!

Marly said...

It's so funny you post these pictures. Mostly it's not the gray that's funny, but the fact that they have long hair. I love my hair long! I cut it short and then I cry until it grows back. I was talking to my almost 4 year about how someday I will be a grandma. He said I can't because grandma's have short hair and I have long. I asked if I should cut it to be a grandma. he said no, he likes my long hair :)
So I guess I will prove him wrong and be a grandma with long hair. I will also never color it. If it goes gray, oh well.

Janeen said...

My mother found my first gray hair when I was 14. Yes, I'm not joking, 14. And I still think I had one when I was 12 but I'm not positive. She was SO GLEEFUL when she plucked it out too. I'm struggling with the gray hair. I have more gray hair at 28 than my husband has at 45. Thank goodness, he's finally getting some! I wish he would get more, I LOVE gray hair in men but again, he's 45! I sometimes fear that with my gray hair, people will think I'm older than him. I'm not necessarily against gray hair but I'm against the amount I have at my age.

However, I don't dye my hair often either anymore. I keep thinking I may before I leave for South Korea but if I do, it would be red and then that would grow out with roots and I just wonder if it is worth it. It doesn't help that my older sister, who is 12 years old, has considerably more gray hair. Her hair ALREADY, it almost all gray or at least would be if she didn't dye it all time. My mom, from the time I was four or five, was dying her hair blond so that would have been when she was around 40. Considering she had dark brown to black hair, that she could GO blond meant she had a lot of gray. We were trying to get her to stop when she was around 60. She finally has but she still cuts her hair short.

Mommy Bee said...

You know Marley, I had to do about 4 differently worded searches on google images (and search through a dozen pages) to find these four pictures...there are not many pictures out there of ladies with long grey hair!

Carrie said...

I love this post! I especially liked the last picture because she looks so beautiful and dignified. Plus those earrings are totally me!

Dayna said...

I don't mind the grey. Will let it happen when it starts (I'm almost 60)My hair will never be long though as much as I would like to wear it that way. It has ALWAYS been to thin to wear long. We just have to deal with what God gives us.

Maggie said...

That is absolutely gorgeous hair! To die for!

I'm sorry but I have to stick out my tongue at all you pale folk and point out how awesome my skin tone will look with gray/white hair. Neener neener! :-P

You know it's funny because for years I would think about aging and become depressed for one reason alone- no not wrinkles or age spots which I think are actually pretty awesome but because I hate having short hair. Yes, I for some odd reason believed that when you get old it means your hair has to be cut. Oh what a fool I was and thankfully so! I now seek out older women with long beautiful hair. It is possible! Hallileuah! (I totally spelled that wrong, I know)


Anonymous said...

Janeen - My mother was very gleeful, too, about my first gray hairs in my early 20s... What is up with that? I was definitely taught that gray hair = old, which isn't exactly true. At least, I don't think I'm old! lol

I am, however, nine years older than my boyfriend, so we don't worry about that being obvious. (Although people think I'm younger than I am when I'm with him - even with the gray hair!)

Future Mama said...

I think there's one thing having beautiful, thick, long grey hair, and it's another thing when your hair is thinning or if you're going bald... haha. That I'd cut!

Cozy said...

Great post! I have seen several ladies with long gray hair and I love it. I have a few grays now and have never colored my hair and don't plan to. Also after having it short for a couple years after being waist length for many I am growing it out again except for some bangs.

Janeen said...

Hey, saw a picture thing you should check out, it's all about women who are gray and proud of it. I thought it was really neat.

Randee said...

I. am. weak. I henna my hair TO cover my gray. I agree the final product of that silvery gray is gorgeous... BUT... the beginning phase is hard to get through especially when your still in your 20's. ;) Someday. someday.

Katie said...

I really hope I am able to resist and never cover my eventual gray. So far, the signs look good ;-) I don't do anything trendy right now, so it's unlikely I will take it up any time soon. I really waffle though -- I want to look hot and modern, but the real true ME is natural all the way - little/no makeup, comfortable clothes, no trends, etc.

Jessica said...

I know you posted this a while ago (like 2 years), but I just found it and wanted to comment. :o)
The other day Hubby and I were out dancing and there was a woman with beautiful long white/gray soft curls hanging past her shoulders. My sweetheart pointed out this woman and said that he hoped my hair would look like that someday. He has always been fine with whatever I want to do with my hair, but I thought it was nice of him to point out that he preferred the long hair, even when it has lost all color. Honestly, I hope my hair does turn out white rather than a dull gray, but either way I think it is more elegant long than short. I think there is a point at which a woman looks a little funny with colored hair. Gray hair and wrinkles go together, you know?

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