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.
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.