Embracing Grey Hair as a Celebration of you?

By Etta Hornsteiner
January 14th, 2019 Health & Wellness No Comments
proud white-feathered peacock

My fascination with grey hair started with watching my mother groom her hair. While her friends were coloring their hair, my mother was enhancing her grey with the help of Clairol’s Shimmer Lights shampoo. Every wash was like polishing the household silverware. Then came my turn—many years later but still a bit soon. Lucky for me, at that time women under 40 were choosing to go grey, so I thought I’d slip in the pack as a grey-by-choice. But a close look at the mirror delivered the big reveal one day: my greys were seemingly emboldened by my goal to cling to “youth” and were erupting all sides with vigor and determination.   I thought about how the greys made me look. And I thought about coloring.  But there was something inside me that was as resistant to coloring as the new grey hairs peppering my head. Why should I hide my grey? I felt as if embracing my grey hair would be a celebration of who I was and who I am becoming.

So when I saw a picture of 60-year-old Jamie Lee Curtis debuting her new platinum-white hair like a crown of glory at the 2019 Golden Globe Awards, I felt empowered.

Jamie-Lee Curtis with her crown of grey hair

Here was a woman who for me embodied the beauty of aging gracefully. It’s as if Jamie Lee Curtis was saying, Here I stand—grey and beautiful still!

Unfortunately, women have been conditioned—mainly through advertising—to see grey hair as a stigma of lesser beauty, lesser vitality, lesser desirableness. Men, on the other hand, have been allowed to go grey with less criticism. George Clooney and Richard Gere, for example, have faced less negativity—if any at all—because of their grey hair.

But it’s clear that greying hair has been on the minds of men and women in the United States the last 12 months according to Google Trends.

Google Trends chart for grey hair

Some of the interest in the topic is driven by young people who are greying early. People of European background start greying in their early 20s. Africans and East Asians tend to turn grey later, explains Professor Desmond Tobin, a hair and skin pigmentation specialist at the University of Bradford in UK, in the BBC News.

The growing population of Baby Boomers is also affecting interest in this topic. This group is redefining aging and setting their own trends. Is the embrace of grey hair one of these trends?

Grey Hair, the New Trend?

HarperBazaar, an American women’s fashion magazine, predicts that grey hair will be 2019’s big hair trend.   An Australian magazine described one of the 2019 hair trends in these words: “Colour isn’t as important as it used to be. We all want that Parisian-chic, effortless look, so why not think about growing your colour out and going back to your roots? Literally.”

Could the new trend be to let your grey grow out and stand out?

If it is, then it is is a psychological battle for both men and especially women.  To use New York Times bestselling author and researcher Brené Brown’s word of choice, the new trend means vulnerability. Because, to embrace you, to celebrate you by letting others see you as you change colors, seasons of life, takes courage. To embrace vulnerability takes courage.

A study has looked at how women between the ages of 71 and 94 perceived greying. Most of the women disliked their own appearance, associating grey hair with ugliness, dependence, poor health, social disengagement and cultural invisibility. Though averse to their own grey hair, they found other women’s grey hair attractive. The study concluded that women used hair color to appear more youthful and to resist ageist stereotypes, according to Aging and Society.

Grey Hair, is it just a matter of style?

Your attitude toward greying can affect your health. A study shows that people who had a negative perception of aging had a decreased life expectancy by 7.5 years.

This is not to say that everyone who accepts their grey hair has a positive self-perception and will live a long and healthy life. However, I do think the new grey hair trend is showing how beautiful grey hair and the season it represents can be when they are truly embraced with love.

Of course you are not your hair, but there are a lot of emotions tied to your hair that impact your identity—who you think you are, who you think you should be, and who you truly are.

When you embrace your grey, you celebrate, for all to see, the positive changes that are taking place in your life.

  1. Maturation — You’re fully developed. Who you are is beautiful. Nature is on your side.

beautiful white peacock

  1. Gratitude — You have earned your grey hair. You have been given the privilege to age and with gratitude, you love it. You do not judge yourself and you will not allow others to judge you through their stereotypes.
  1. Courage — Yes, your grey hair makes you feel vulnerable. But you have chosen to make a stand and just do you!
  1. Inspiration —Now there’s Iris Apfel, an American businesswoman, interior designer, and fashion icon, and you to inspire a generation yet to grey!

Iris-Apfel-American Icon

  1. Confidence — Your grey hair is your crown of glory. Wear it like a crown.
Angela Bassett-spots grey-haired locs

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/14/style/black-panther-natural-hair.html

So, go ahead, strike a pose: You’re grey and beautiful still.

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