Perhaps you’d be just as upset by the prospect of silver hair as my cartoon friend to the left feels. I understand. It’s a personal choice. I’ve been sporting mine now for over a year. I chuckle to myself when people steal glances of them as we’re talking, their eyes darting back and forth from my eyes to my silver strands ever so obviously.
I’m not following a trend per se like other young women who have chosen to bleach then dye their hair gray. Mine just grow naturally. My early grays (or silvers as I like to refer to them) are a product of my genetics from my dad. Starting in his late twenties, he started graying rapidly and has had nearly all white hair since his sixties. He hasn’t seen the full extent of mine yet since he’s been away. He, being obsessive about health and nutrition, would probably tell me that it’s a deficiency in some X, Y, Z vitamin rather than my genetics taking its course.
My first silver strand was discovered when I was 18 by one of my personal care assistants at college. While helping with the blow dryer, she announced, “Girrrrrrrl, you have a big ol’ white hair on the back of your head.”
“Oh no, really?”
“Want me to pull it?”
“Uh, YEAH! How horrible!”
My views on graying didn’t turn more positive until, well…they had to. Throughout my twenties I only developed a thin strip of silver growing from the upper left side of my head, my thick hair covering it well. Since most people never noticed it I was indifferent. This feeling changed when I noticed my silvers going rogue around the time I turned 29.
They weren’t neatly contained anymore in their secret spot beneath layers of hair. They started to sprout in squiggles from the very top of my head, to the middle and along my right temple. Now both sides of my hairline were affected.
Noooooooo! I’m not even 30 yet!
I had just started business school at Duke University where I’m still convinced there’s an unpublished beauty requirement in the admissions process because everyone there was so dang attractive. One of the first things I admired of my female classmates was their hair: raven colored ringlets, shimmery, honey blonde locks and voluminous red waves—you name it they had a lovely version of it. Yet the one color that no woman displayed was gray. I’m a bit ashamed to admit it, but I wanted to fit in and thought that throwing some dye on my ‘gray mess’ was the answer.
Starting in August 2009 until September 2013, I used all sorts of coloring methods: boxed hair dye, strategically placed salon highlights, and permanent color to conceal what my father handed down to me. Once I moved back home in May 2011, I knew my mother wouldn’t have the patience to fiddle with box hair color like my assistants did so salon dye jobs were the only way to go.
At $200 a pop every 4-6 weeks (I really needed every 3 weeks, but the growing hole in my wallet was painful) and burning flare-ups of my scalp that followed each visit I knew this habit wasn’t sustainable. I either had to come to terms with my silvers, or deny reality and go broke.
I obviously chose the former. I won’t claim that I had an epiphany one day that allowed me to turn to the mirror and say to myself with a wink, “Well hello there, you beautiful Silver Fox.”
It’s been a slow and gradual process, but—important to note—an intentional one. I chose to grow out all the hair dye and let the silvers flow. That was nearly two years ago. In that time I realized that my silvers have nudged me towards a greater acceptance of time’s passing and the change it brings to my physical appearance. Might be gloomy and petrifying to some, but having a visual cue, whether that may be silver hair, wrinkles or both serve as a constant reminder of my limited time here on earth. This jolts me to wake up and say, "Times a tickin’, get to livin’!" (Yeah, I say this to myself. Try it. It’s fun.)
I’ve also come to realize that it’s precisely these early silvers that I’ve inherited from my dad that remind me of him and help me feel connected to him.
Why then would I ever want to hide that?