“I’m just done.” These were my sentiments in 2018 when I finally decided to stop dying my hair.
Ever since I went prematurely grey in my early 30s I’d been a slave to the messy process of staying a brunette. Every three weeks I’d vigilantly monitor the hair growth along my scalp, leaping into action with chemicals, bottles, towels, and tools whenever too much white started to show. It was exhausting. After years of this, I was finally ready to let go of whatever it was people might think my white hair said about me.
What’s behind the trend of going grey? It’s more than a fashion statement—I think it’s a form of revolt. After all, how can you fight age discrimination while making time-consuming concessions to it every three weeks of your life? Dying my hair told everyone that I bought into the lie that I had to be young to be relevant. That I had to look young to be beautiful.
Professional women like me have been aware for years of the risks associated with looking their age. It’s especially true in the marketing industry. According to senior writer Laura Bensman, age discrimination in advertising is “on steroids.” This despite evidence that creativity “flourishes, rather than flounders with age.” In best-selling writer Bob Hoffman’s book, The Age of Creativity, he lists those dominating the creative awards of 2017:
- Nobel prize for literature – Kazuo Ishiguro, 64
- Pulitzer for Drama – Lynn Nottage, 54
- Pulitzer for Poetry – Tyehimba Jess, 53
- Academy and Emmy Awards for acting – Frances McDormand; 60, Gary Oldman, 59; Allison Janney, 58; John Lithgow, 73; Ann Dowd, 62
I’m a far better writer today than I was—or ever could have been—in my 30s. I did not know then the first part of what I know now. Experience enriches everything you have to say as an artist. It informs and provides texture, depth, and insight.
This is not my first stab at going silver. In my early 40s I got pregnant with my first and only child. My obstetrician went above and beyond to make sure I delivered a healthy baby. One of his prescriptions was to stop dying my hair. The verdict was still out whether hair dye passed the placenta, and he didn’t want me taking any chances. Everyone liked the result: pretty, white hair that made me stand out. But that was in California, where having a child later in life was relatively common. I was in for culture shock when I moved to Colorado. “Are you a grandma?” asked the little boy who saw me with my toddler. I started dying my hair again within weeks.
Today, I’ve turned a corner. I’m a lot more comfortable in my own skin. I’m ready to be the authentic me. Some people like it, while others may secretly think it’s a mistake. That’s OK. Not everyone makes the same decision, but for me, going silver is a prominent badge of confidence, creativity, and freedom.