Grey hair and self acceptance is a correlation i would not have made when I decided to go grey. But I learnt that sometimes hair.., Has nothing to do with hair! When I was studying in London more than 20 years ago there was a brilliant two pages ad on Cosmopolitan magazine, picturing a woman walking in nature, and said: “Bad hair day? Why don’t you take a 20 minutes break walking briskly? Movement will make you feel better, and you might realise it has nothing to do with your hair.”

That struck me at such a profound level and for two very different reasons. First, the acknowledgement that what you perceive might not be right, so your mind can actually lie to you, and be unreliable. Second, a lot of things that are about hair, are not really about hair. Sometimes they are about something much more important and meaningful. In the instance suggested by the ad, we translate a feeling of lack of love for ourselves, in a bad image of our hair in the mirror.

Hair seems to have an ancestral meaning in our relationship with others, for which we attribute it much more importance than it actually has, and lately this prompted a consideration on going grey and self acceptance.

Grey revolution and its meaning

And this has never been clearer to me since I started my grey hair journey. The silver sisters’ movement, or anyway the decision to stop dying your hair and embrace your grey, apparently is about hair colour, but it has really very little to do with colour in itself.

What many women are deciding to face is a battle against natural grey hair stigma, perceived as a symbol of lack of care for yourself and as an unforgivable sign of aging.

Ditching the dye and have a leap of faith into our unknown grey hair, is a freedom affirmation: I am free from the expectations this society has about me, and I am free to display my age, and I’m free from the need to hide it.

Every silver sister that proudly displays her grey hair is a force of change, is the fuel that prompts this incredible shift in perception that is happening: grey hair for women is fine, even on the red carpet, now. (I’m referring to the latest Cannes festival, where Andy McDowell, Jodie Foster and Helen Mirren were the silver stars of the red carpet).

Hair has always had a symbolic meaning f
Hair has always had a symbolic meaning

But why hair? A deep dive in the real meaning.

Why hair retains such a big importance in our culture, especially for women?

Desmond Morris gave us a brilliant understanding of the reason behind this, in his book “The naked woman: a study of the female body”.

According to Morris, the hair distribution on the human body is so peculiar that it suggests a way for our species to be easily recognisable. On top of that, the differentiation of the hair types is probably due to the need to perpetuate the genetic advancement obtained by each different tribe: choosing people of your same tribe (same hair type) would enable you to maintain the genetic evolution obtained in your tribe, the best ally for our survival.

Nowadays with the modern movement of people, this type of meaning is lost in time, but hair has retained its characteristic of most important signal for our species.  It is the most preferred and most visible way to transmit info about ourselves, and has always been a way of expressing ourselves.

Again, according to Morris’ book, of all the women who decide to dye their hair, an astonishing 90% chooses blond as new hair colour. He explains that it might be because blond and fair hair is associated with childhood, and tends to inspire a sentiment of protection in the male of our species.

Fighting the always young culture
Fighting the always young culture

A delusional “always young” culture

The same goes for all other alterations that makes us look younger: the main aim it supposed to be being more attractive to the male, looking like a child that need to be protected. Following this train of thought, it is clear that if we are victim of the modern beauty industry, that wants to make us fill inadequate just to sell us products, and so puts a blame on natural grey as a shabby choice. We are the one to put the blame on the aging supposedly coming with grey hair: we do not want to look less attractive, and we associate old with unattractive, in a twisted perception of the real values.

But we have to consider the whole set of features that comes with aging, and why we consider it unattractive for a woman.

Redefining Aging

Becoming older comes with a supposedly wiser attitude, and a bigger knowledge, and although this might not always be the case, surely an older woman is more experienced, in both life and sex, not easily impressed, more confident and less prone to accommodate the need of another person.

For the role that our old male-centric culture has built for women, this is still not acceptable. And it is my vision that when we are not accepting our grey hair, our wrinkles, the changes in our bodies, we actually embody that belief: that a woman need to comply to the expectations to be cared for, to be accepted, to be loved.

This is the reason for which I am so happy to embrace my grey hair and all of my wrinkles (from the ones on the forehead, to the ones on the knees) because I am pretty damn proud of who I am, of who I’ve become.

Aging is an indicator that shows:

  • I am alive. (If you do not age, it means you died young!) Not everybody has this privilege.
  • I lived it all: laughs for the happy moments, frowns from the many tough times, the days spent in the sun, the passing of many different seasons and phases of life blessed by a different tone of grey.

Grey hair = Accepting yourself = Loving yourself

I’ve started my grey hair journey as an act to free myself from the fortnightly dye session, and I have discovered along the way that I’ve freed myself of much more.

The already mentioned leap of faith you make when you stop dying your hair, not knowing what you will look like, puts the foundation for acceptance, and celebrating the growth of something that you felt forced to cover for so long, adds to the powerful meaning of this choice.

 Grey hair empowerment

You feel empowered by every inch of grey you manage to grow, and the acceptance resonates to various aspects, and you naturally begin to accept all the other signs of aging, because you begin to see them in a different light, you understand them at deeper level, and you value them for what they are.

I have even begun to accept my curly hair, after having ignored and straightened them for all my life: going grey gave the right attitude and I began to love them as they are, instead of hiding what I always thought was my worst feature.

Grey and curly hair
Grey and curly hair: accepting it all!

And I would have never expected that, as I was convinced I was not going to have my hair curly once grey, as I feared it would have looked too shabby and surely unacceptable!

Grey hair is a powerful statement, and has everything and nothing to do with hair.

It might seem a simple style choice, or no choice, but it really speaks about something else.

Grey hair speaks about self acceptance, self love, acknowledgement of your own value, and being happy in your skin, proud of you are.  No matter the age you are in, because you are what really matters, and grey hair says to the world that you know it pretty damn well.

Does this resonates with you? What is the real meaning of going grey for you? Let me know in the comments!

For other articles on my grey hair journey click here!

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