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Recently, I made the surprising decision to stop coloring my hair. I have been coloring my hair since my early 20s. From that first time I went blond, I haven’t turned back… my hair has ranged from a very light shade of blonde to a dark auburn. However, as I have aged, the quest to color my hair has expanded beyond just the highlights, and merged more into all-over color, plus highlights. The process has grown from 90 minutes to 3 hours (along with an equal increase in cost) – but, six weeks later, there they would be again, that pesky growth line of gray hairs. Coloring my hair changed from a fun way to vary my look to something I HAD to do to prevent the gray. I was losing the battle. So I did what I always do when I want to make a decision – I Googled it 😉 And there were thousands of articles about women who had stopped coloring their hair to go natural… gray and all. The commonality I noticed was that they all reported a sense of freedom, and a sense of self acceptance, “I am who I am, gray and all.”
As I began my experiment, I was skeptical.
- Where was the line between taking pride in your appearance and self acceptance?
- Was I just ‘letting myself go’?
- Giving in and giving up?
- What would people think as that pesky line of gray grew in?
For the first few days, I explained what I was doing to anyone I saw – so they would know that I knew that my hair didn’t look okay. I heard myself justifying my decision to complete strangers, who honestly could not have cared less, and I thought to myself, “what are you doing?” Thankfully, that need to explain faded away. Something switched. I stopped caring.
One morning, I looked in the mirror and I saw me: a 41 year old woman, who carries extra weight around her stomach, who needs magnification lenses to see small print, and who has a growth line of gray hair. And I loved her. I got tears in my eyes as I thought: thank you, body, for getting me here to my 41st year. Do I want to have my 20 year old body? Some days. Do I wish I could lose weight like I use to? Some days. Do I wish I didn’t need corrective contacts? Yes. But would I change anything about being 41? Nope, not a damn thing.
The most amazing thing about this experiment is that, once I stopped caring about the gray line, I didn’t care if anyone else saw it. I let go of my need to explain my hair line. That’s how it works. When you feel good about yourself, you stop caring. You know there are days you feel beautiful, and days you feel ugly. On those days when you feel beautiful, you aren’t worrying about what anyone else thinks. The only difference between the days you feel beautiful and the days you don’t? YOU.
That realization changed my life… the realization that I was judging myself a thousand times harder than anyone else could possibly judge me. I was the one who felt the need to justify, prove, and defend my decisions. I have been actively working on those pesky Mongers who tell me that I am not beautiful, thin, or in shape enough. I have been lovingly showing them the door.
And my hair – I love it… I love my line of gray. I love not worrying about fading, or about my next hair color, or ‘what if someone sees my gray.’ I honestly had no idea how much freedom would come from embracing the gray. Are my coloring days gone for good? Only time will tell. For now, I am loving this experiment. I have learned a lot about myself and my body image, and I look forward to the growth process (both personal and hair).
I would love to hear from you in the comments? Do you color your hair? Have you thought about going natural or do you currently? What do you struggle with most when it comes to body image?
We will be discussing Loving Your Body at the Live Happier Loft this Thursday. Join us for Wine Night at the Loft Thursday July 10th–register here.