"To dye or not to dye?" ... that is the question. At least that was the question I began asking myself a decade ago as I grew weary of dyeing my grey-streaked hair. Back then, upon presenting my dilemma to my hairdresser I chose to follow his self-serving advice, "You'll have plenty of time to go grey!"
Giving up the quest for a glamorous, youthful look was especially difficult for me as I had been the fashion queen; owning fashion boutiques, doing image consulting and writing a fashion column for ten years. I had felt pity for my sister-in-law years ago, when she decided not to dye her hair. At that time I vowed to never "let myself go," and remain as youthful and glamorous as human powers would permit.
Yet, rather suddenly, more years of dying my hair passed and I found myself resenting being held hostage every six weeks to grey roots, chemicals soaking my scalp, dark stains along my hairline, and fumes in my eyes and lungs. More and more I begrudged the societal message clouting us: "Women lose their value, beauty and worth as they age and must do their utmost to hide the fact."
Proof of this message drives the multi-billion dollar beauty/anti-aging industry which goads us into defying nature and negating the beauty, vitality, sexuality and worth of aging, grey-haired women.
Now it is commonplace to perpetually dye greying hair; surgically nip, tuck and lift aging faces; Botox worrisome wrinkles away; lyposuction fat off thighs; enlarge small breasts; pluck "inappropriate" hairs (then draw eyebrows back on!); wear make-up with toxic ingredients; and keep wearing current clothing that was in style when we were teens.
Unwittingly, we have been drawn into an anti-aging war being battled upon our bodies. Each of us has to draw the line between wanting to look good and becoming a slave to twisted societal demands. Where do we say "Enough is enough?"
Letting our grey grow is the "road less traveled." The idea that we must be beautiful, youthful and lithesome to be acceptable and of worth is deeply ingrained within each of us. It can be an unnerving, shocking journey dumping our societies' shallow values, and coming to accept our bodies as they are: grey hair, no hair, overweight, wrinkles and all.
Three years ago, when I decided to stop dying my hair, with the support of my husband and young boy, I faced deep fears. Being mid-forties and grey-haired would I lose my man to a younger, prettier woman? Would they see me "on the way out" in my professional career? And what was I to do on those days the mirror reflected an old, unsexy, grey-haired woman?
It's interesting - I had to dig to the depths of my roots - in order to grow-out my roots. To grow grey I had to find the courage of my convictions and move against the mass belief. I had to go beyond my fears to find my own beauty and worth inside. Now, having experienced grey hair for three years, I can say it is incredibly freeing and comfortable to be who I am, just as I am.
To rise above societal beliefs and find our own intrinsic worth, beauty, vitality and sexuality let us begin with accepting, and caring for our bodies and our precious selves. Given the toxicity of many beauty products and treatments perhaps the question of - "To dye or not to dye" - should read... "To die or not to die," that is the question.