To all the young 20 something's or even some of the teen salt and pepper heads out there reading this. To fill you in, salt and pepper heads = a young person with hair of silver.
There is no denying it, you noticed your first grey hair a while ago and you have been trying to hide it ever since. You pluck that sucker out and you take a breather that it is finally over...until, BAM! Five grey hairs invite themselves to accompany the lonely grey. Perhaps, for some of you, the problem is not that there are treys coming in here and there. It is that there are large groups of silver hair bundles growing in all at once and maybe one or two people are taking notice. It is inevitable that you have received one of these reactions;
"Ummm, is that a grey hair I see?"
"You're only 20 years old, how could you have grey hair?"
"Oh my gosh, I thought you could only get grey hair until you are 35 or 40!"
My personal favorite ".... *awkward stare..."
"Glad I don't have grey hair!"
Well, yes world. There are some of us who prematurely accumulated batches of silver hair...what is the hubbub? Well the big deal is this. When have we ever played with young, short, grey haired Barbie dolls? When do we ever see our favorite Hollywood stars without them having their hair perfectly dyed for every season (with the exception of very few of the young at heart celebrities). Why should we be looking to commercial models to find out who we should be like or to keep up with the latest trends? Well because it is EVERYWHERE. In our books, on the screens, on social media and on the billboards. We should not want to make modifications to our person just because it is unusual or seen as "unattractive." We were born this way.
We are told how beautiful we naturally are, to never change and that every blemish and flaw is to be seen as beautiful. Does that also apply to changes we cannot control--like our hair?
My dad is at a young and handsome 49 years and he took notice of his grey hair at around the age of 18. He shared with me how his friends made fun of him and never has he really cared what people thought of him. Even as a child, I noticed my friend's parents with black, brown or blonde hair (with no added salt....go ahead. I will take a brief pause for a chuckle). Shamefully, I always hinted that he purchase a "Just For Men" hair dye. I was not ashamed of him, I just thought that it was "unhip" and way too early for him to have grey hair. My dad would always respond, "It's because of my wisdom and beauty that I have my greys. Plus, your mom really digs it." I cannot imagine my dad ever dying his hair because he grew insecure, so why should I be?
Is it more ok for young men to grow their grey hair out than it is for women? Is it part of a woman's duty to hide her silver locks just because it "is not her time yet?" I have a hard time understanding why it is ok to change a part of ourselves to match everyone else's look but it is looked down upon because we choose to embrace and adore all that we are. Even if that means not wearing makeup, a certain style of clothing, or dying our hair.
Weeks before I started work, I had noticed a bundle of eight grey hairs peeking through the front edge of my hairline just above my eyebrows. I vowed that when I officially start my summer job, that I would not wear my hair up.I did not want anyone to notice and think that I "let myself go" or that I "do not care about my image." Until one morning when I woke up to an extreme heat wave, looked at myself in the mirror and decided to put my hair up in a ponytail. I made a hearty decision to not be nervous or shy if someone pointed it out or asked about it. "Be honest. Be true. Do not be afraid. I love you" are the words I repeated to myself just before I left for work. As luck would have it, I was talking with a male co worker face-to-face when I noticed he fixated his to the top of my head trying to figure out whether they were grey hairs or some dust bunnies that fell from the ceiling. He stared some more until he interrupted, "What is that on your hair? Wait, are those grey hairs?" I felt a bit humiliated that I felt unprepared for that question and as I held back some tears I answered, "yes they are. I have had them since I was eighteen and they had begun to come in bunches when I was 21, I believe." So, you have had them since you were little? I have never seen that before" he said in shock. "Yeah, my dads hair has been greying since he was eighteen. It is a family heirloom that he passed down to me. I kinda like it" was my reply. Luckily, some customers walked in asking for my attention and I walked away brushing off my tears. I was genuinely humiliated, but proud. I felt like my own loyal companion. One who appreciates and loves all of herself.
It is time that we all do the same--daily. We owe it to ourselves. We have been living too much into pressure to be like everyone else and it is exhausting! Or perhaps you have been waiting for the day that you can look at your natural self and be one-hundred percent satisfied that nothing should be changed.
Now, am I expecting for those of you who have figured out a new fact about me to not look at my head? No. I am expecting that when and if we cross paths, that your eyes will aim to hunt for any of my little greys so you can point out if the rumor on the mill is true (or whatever the case may be). What I am expecting is that we begin to look at our differences and quit applying these standards of beauty to one example (usually Hollywood or commercialized standards). I love who I am and if I feel uneasy about changing a part of myself, my hair in this case, then I will keep it this way until I am thoroughly confident in who I am ...grey hair and all.
Models have their thin legs, artists have their long fingers, chefs have their round noses, dancers have their wide toes and we have our silver locks. Take full ownership of your natural beauty! Even if you are the only one reminding yourself of both your inner and outer beauty, then be your own best friend. When someone compliments your hair, respond with a confident "thank you" because you know your hair rocks! I should know that your hair rocks ;) and we should not be ashamed that we are a rare kind of beauty.
Remember, Silver is the New Gold!
Your Silver Hair'd Friend,
originally published 1 July 2014