Several things converged around the same time.
1) I bought the huge telephone-book sized Fall Vogue magazine, which I've not done for years.
2) I read a great article by Aliza Sherman who gave a fiery response to Michael Arrington of TechCrunch, pontificating about why there weren't more women in tech start-ups. (And I loved her comment about women who have gray hair are often passed over for jobs let alone venture capitalists.)
3) While flipping through the pages of Vogue, I wondered what happened to one of the more interesting supermodels of the 90's, Kristen McManamy.
4) I discovered that Kristen, now 46 years old, had decided to no longer color her hair and allowed it's silver magnificence to wreak havoc upon the fashion world. I was smitten.
I had a conversation with Aliza via Twitter. She admitted she loved my gray hair but had trouble thinking she could go through with it. I've received this response many times from women. Strangers will greet me at a store, for instance, and say, "Oh, my gosh.. I just love your hair!" Meanwhile, I can tell they're still coloring theirs. I thank them and say with a smile, "I'm not sure if you considered it, but if you do it -- believe me, you'll be spoiled!" They usually laugh and say "Maybe someday..."
Yes, we live in a culture that idolizes youth. And people like Oprah don't help matters when they say, "The quickest way a woman can look younger is by coloring her hair." Oh, yeah? Well I've seen plenty of women who color their hair but the color is all wrong for them. Or they color their hair too dark and it accentuates their older features.
In fact, this is what I find so hilarious: it's a long-held beauty rule that as you age, you lighten your hair color. How wonderful it is that God gave women natural "highlighted" hair by adding silver? No need for anything "extra."
When I met my husband when I was 38 years old, I had been coloring my hair blonde for many years. In fact, I started to color my hair when I was 19. So for about twenty years, I spent quite a bit of money and time on trying to achieve that perfect color. I was platinum blonde, honeyblonde, dark blonde, reddish brown, chestnut, auburn, black (which turned out awful) and then back to a light ash blonde. So when I asked him what he thought of me letting my hair grow out the color, he was thrilled. I, on the other hand, was just plain tired of the work.
There are many reasons I love my gray hair, not the least of which is minimal upkeep. But my absolute favorite reason is that it sends a message loud and clear that I'm not stuck on "looking young" forever. I like getting older. In fact, I see each day as a day closer to getting to my true home, with my Creator, my heavenly Father. I like the joys that aging brings -- renewed appreciation of relationships, wisdom, and the delightful sense of freedom that comes with caring less what most people think.
I honestly would not trade my current life for the one I had at twenty. I loved being twenty, when I was twenty. But there was a part of me that couldn't wait to reach "middle-age" because I suspected I'd feel more confident in who God created me to be. I was right.
There are more and more women who are choosing to go gray. It's an honest choice, reflecting a woman's beautiful individuality and experiencing the joy of every stage of life. If you're a woman who's not quite sure but intrigued by the prospect of going gray, I highly recommend readingGoing Gray: What I Learned about Beauty, Sex, Work, Motherhood, Authenticity, and Everything Else That Really Matters by Anne Kraemer. It's a poignant tale of how one woman took the plunge toward letting go of certain expectations to discover her own brand of beauty.
If you do take the risk, let me know. I'm betting you will be pleasantly surprised.