By: Gabriela Yareliz
I have found a sprinkling of silver in my hair– this is a new thing. I feel like it’s the conversation du jour. I saw a friend post a poll on Instagram asking whether she should dye her new-found grays.
Today, it weirdly came up in a discussion with a friend, and she said something along the lines of, “Ugh, no. I don’t want to look old, and you shouldn’t either.” (She dyes her hair regularly. I do not.) We don’t like them. That is very clear. Grays scare most of us. They aggravate us. They are something to be done away with. An indicator of something we aren’t always ready to accept.
Now, this post is just about me. I don’t care what you do with your grays. Do you. I had a grandma who had jet black hair in her old age. I know people that the minute they see a sparkle of silver, they pull out that L’Oreal box from the stash in the drawer. Everyone is entitled to do what they want with their appearance. I think in my culture, hiding our age is the norm. It’s what we do. Women like getting their hair done; we like looking young (see JLo, Salma Hayek, etc.). It’s our thing. It is also our chemical slavery.
Why even talk about grays? Well, for one, I have noticed it’s something that makes a lot of women feel insecure (currently, me included). We hate the idea of being old. Who told us that grays mean we are old? Maybe they are age-appropriate, but we just don’t know or accept that because everyone covers them up the minute they emerge. Why do we cover them up? Do we genuinely hate the color or are we afraid of dying or being found unattractive? Why do men go silver, and it looks really hot (see George Clooney, Steve Carell, etc.)? Why are women who do the same sometimes seen as unkempt and disheveled? Why is it women who are faced with the mounting (societal) pressure to look ageless, manicured and unnatural?
There are these weird moments in life where we look or feel a bit different. Suddenly, we look in the mirror and maybe our face shape has changed a little, our skin is different, our body is different– and this has been one of those moments for me. One of those moments there is no turning back from. I am starting to change. Last year sucked, and I don’t have the time to have a whole months-long-process meltdown before turning 30. I am not wasting a moment, so I am writing out my thoughts instead.
I am writing about this because suddenly, after facing the reality that something about my appearance is shifting, I felt a wave of insecurity. I am not immune to it. (And I didn’t feel insecure about it because anyone said anything. It was me. I am lucky to have people around me who always make me feel beautiful and accepted, no matter what. Hell, I wore a long black dress with sneakers today, and my boyfriend just went with it. When I caught my reflection in the window of an empty abandoned furniture shop we were walking past, I realized I looked like a 90s conservative pentecostal– or like Dwight Schrute’s cousin [Office reference]). This lewk looked way cuter in my head. I digress…
When I started freaking out internally, I started asking myself all these questions. Women always say we get better with age and more confident. Is that true? Because most women are covering up any sign of aging or change. Are we really as confident as we think? Are we as secure in our bodies as we tout? Do we dislike grays because we don’t see a large representation of them out there? Do we all really want to look like a Southern California housewife from BRAVO?
There are two people who wear their grays very well, and we are pretty close in age (if not the same age).
Sophia Roe: Chef, food and wellness advocate
Louise Damas: Parisian jeweler, artisan
With all these questions whirling in my head, I thought about these two women and the fact that they both have something in common, they are unique and natural. They are also boss women who have their own businesses, their own achievements and a life they have built on their own. Something I love about both of them is you get the sense that they are really really comfortable in their own skin.
I started to think about who I am. The start of figuring out where we are going, often means figuring out where we are and who we are right now. I am someone who is very much into endocrine health and clean beauty. I try to stay away from chemicals (once a year, when I do paint my nails, my nail polish is literally made of coconut oil, and it lasts a whole five minutes). I believe in less is more. I am super low maintenance.
I was drawn to these women embracing their natural changes in such a confident way. Listen, I don’t know what decision I will make in the end. I am thinking out loud. But I do see in them something that I want. I want that joie de vivre. A self-acceptance that runs deep. I want to exude a comfort with who I am in a really real way. I want to feel good in my simplicity, no matter what others perceive or think.
In a world full of baby botox injections, fillers and a standard of beauty that is mighty expensive (Erika Jayne accurately sang, “It’s xxpen$ive (expensive) to be me”), maybe one of the most courageous things we can be is ourselves, in the fullness of what that means. Perhaps what is behind heavy cosmetics and the procedures and stuff we subject ourselves to is a deep deep insecurity and dissatisfaction with what we have been given. We are listening to so many external voices that want to set a standard for worth and acceptance. That’s not to say high maintenance women aren’t confident, but often times, we don’t see these women in their natural state, ever. Because when you strip it all away (surgeries and all) there is often a person who doesn’t like what they see (this is why they made so many changes in the first place).
There is also a happy medium. Not everyone is high maintenance or low maintenance– some women are in between.
I don’t know. The women under 40 with their grays have given me a lot to think about. I’m thinking about life, death, aging and the meaning of true confidence. From whence does it come? Have you ever given true thought to why you do what you do or why you look the way you look?
I want that unadulterated confidence, where you can stand there laughing when all is stripped away. I am starting to realize that some of the truest confidence comes not from adding more to something but from wiping away all the covers. I’m working on my mindset, and don’t be surprised if you see some sparkle in my hair. These silver sparkles may be here to stay.