For some of you this topic might seem a little bit odd, however I can assure you it is related to mental health, and in this post I am going to explain why. So, if it's something you could be interested in, please follow me.
Gray hair is a big deal for a woman
If you are a woman, you know why, but I will explain. There have always been many stereotypes surrounding female's appearance. Whether it's body weight or shape, hair or wrinkles, it's an object of attention. We are praised or criticized for the way we look, and for many of us it's the only thing that matters - how we are perceived by other people. It's especially relevant now, when we have an access to thousands of pictures of beautiful women around the globe. It doesn't take much time to see those typical beauty standards that many women try so hard to follow in order to fit in, to be liked and approved; but it takes a lot of effort not to be consumed by it.
With the rise of cosmetic surgery industry, it's no longer about using make-up in order to enhance our features, but it's about changing them in order to look like someone, who is popular on Instagram. I am talking about the "sins of beauty industry" here.
Ageism, in my opinion, is one of the worst forms of stereotypical thinking that exists in our society today. In fact, it comes in different shapes of forms, but the basic belief that is stuck in our heads is that aging is bad, and we should fight signs of it. In this blog post I am not going to elaborate on psychology behind ageism, but I might write about it in the future.
Gray hair for many people is a terrifying sign of aging. The sign that can be easily concealed and forgotten. Remember, that any concealing or escapism comes from inability to face reality. I would not call it weakness as it is extremely hard to practice self-acceptance today, and I am not here to judge or pretend like I don't have any insecurities myself. In fact this very post is a proof, that I do have many of them, and my attempt to let my real hair with some grey strands grow and share my experience with it will hopefully help me get rid of at least one of them.
Many of us are scared to show their gray hair (even if there are not many gray strands, like in my case) as it is something we believe that will make us look old or older than we are. So in the end it's not about how we look or how it makes us look, but it's about how it makes us feel, and how society will see us, as well as how we think it will. Too much to care about, in my opinion. And I am struggling with it as well. Thoughts about ageing and my changing looks are anxiety provoking.
So, I decided to challenge my fear, as I believe without challenging my core fears no real growth is possible. It's not a rebellion against societal standards, but more so against my own insecurity and anxiety.
Why I decided to let my grays grow
There are a few reasons why I decided to experiment with my hair. And I am not saying that this is a long-term commitment, as I don't like to limit myself. If I ever want to dye my hair again, I want to be able to do it without feeling like I am breaking a commitment.
First and foremost, coloring our hair is extremely bad for our hair and health in general. Last year I lost a fair amount of hair due to hair dye, which made me worried I would get bald.:) What can be scarier than going gray? Right, baldness! This blog post isn't about me trying to convince anyone not to color their hair, as it is a personal choice, so I am not going to talk about the side effects of this beauty ritual here, but you can always search for it online, if you are interested.
Another reason is I simply got tired of constantly coloring my hair. I don’t enjoy the process, it takes time and money, and, if I am honest, it is like #25 in my priority list. Spending resources at least every 2 months + losing hair = not worth it for me.
Reason #3 is curiosity. I wanted to see how my real hair looks now, as the last time I saw it was like more than 10 years ago. The reason why I dyed my hair on a first place weren't gray strands, I simply didn't like my hair color and wanted to try something new. These days I feel like I would actually love my real hair color and all the benefits that come along with not needing to regularly put a bunch of chemicals on my head.
Another important reason is that I wanted to challenge myself and try something that is still not very popular in our society. I heard that when you can face at least one of your insecurities or fears, the next ones will be much easier to deal with. Honestly, to me it's not even about hair, but like I said, my inner growth. Escapism has not been proven to help anxiety, facing out fears, on the other hand, have. And I wanted to see if it would work for me. I want to see how I feel facing one of my deepest fears. Funny enough, this hair issue is skin-deep.
Finally, there are so many women who have inspired me to do this "challenge". Today more and more women are going "silver" (especially during quarantine), and I think it's amazing. It is not that I am against make-up or all beauty standards that exist. But I think challenging beliefs like "gray hair makes me look old" is important for women, as well as changing a belief that ageing is bad.
Will ditching hair-dye help aging anxiety?
I don't think ditching hair coloring is a cure-all. That would be too easy. However, facing my insecurities one by one will hopefully help me accept myself more and become more confident and less anxious about my appearance.
I also want you to know, if you decide to go through this transition, that you are not alone. If people criticize you, many times it's because they are unable to face their own fears and insecurities and your decisions trigger them.
With this post I am hoping to raise awareness to the sensitive topic of aging, our perceptions of age and fears around it. If you liked this post, please make sure to leave a comment below and share it. Until next time on Pillows&Trees.