Going to a hair salon every few weeks to cover gray roots is something most women are very familiar with. It seems that our society not only pressures women to constantly look their best, but it’s also no secret that gray hair is often associated with letting yourself go. In the process, many forget their roots and do all they can to maintain their artificially altered appearance, but some stop and ask themselves if that's really what they want.
Thanks to the #FreeTheSilver movement that’s been taking over social media lately, more and more women feel comfortable about their natural hair color. Be it grey, silver, white, or a monochromic palette that brings all the in-between shades from white to dark, natural hair is back and it’s here to stay.
So let’s see some of the most beautiful and inspiring #FreeTheSilver pics that would make anyone throw their hair dye in the bin if they haven't done it already. And after you’re done, be sure to check out our previous article with women totally rocking their natural gray hair.
Long forgotten are the times when discovering your first gray hair brought a sense of disappointment. These days, more and more women and men are embracing their natural beauty and opening up to discovering the silver lining in going gray.
To find out more about the #FreeTheSilver movement, Bored Panda reached out to author Karen Phillips, who’s been sharing her wonderful gray hair transition on her Instagram account to 40.5k followers. Karen is also a growth mindset and positive aging advocate, as her hope is to normalize silver hair so women see it as one of many acceptable and beautiful options.
When asked about the common stigma around silver hair, Karen explained that “The cultural narrative that seems pervasive around gray hair is that gray=old and unacceptable. Culture says gray will make you invisible and less attractive. Culture says embracing your gray is letting yourself go.”
Meanwhile, “women are expected to be young and beautiful forever and should do everything to hide their gray hair. Culture says you're too young for what is growing naturally from your body, many times as early as your teens.”
Karen said she herself embraced this narrative for many years until she went on a health journey in her early 40s. “I was reacting poorly to hair dye and was worried about the health ramifications of consistent use of dark hair dye. I was on a journey of health, self-love, and acceptance,” she told us.
But in order to come to the decision to let her natural hair grow out, Karen had “to shift my perspective on what gray hair means and decide to be okay with going against the cultural norm.” “I wanted to let go of holding so tightly to this notion of looking young and to age with grace and gratitude. It was way outside my comfort zone, but I got more comfortable as time passed. The crazier my multi-colored hair looked, the more my confidence grew in no longer caring what others thought.”
After some time, Karen recounted feeling good to be doing something that she knew was right for her. “For me, embracing my silver hair was very much an act of self-care and the next step on my journey to a healthy lifestyle. It became about so much more than hair and was really an empowering journey of self-growth.”
“It wasn't always easy, but I like to encourage women to have a strong 'why' going into any new endeavor. It will give you strength on the challenging days to go back to that why,” Karen said and added: “For me, the journey to silver grew me as a person and was such a liberating and empowering decision.”
Luckily, Karen believes that more and more women these days are more willing to ditch their hair dye. “I'm so encouraged by messages I get from young women who are excited for their silver hair to come in and say they plan on embracing it from the start! I feel like the cultural perspective is starting to shift ever so slightly.”
Having said that, Karen added that she would never push this on anyone. “It's a very personal choice. I think the pandemic really helped a lot of women who had been wanting to do this to try it out. There is a huge growing number of women who are embracing their silvers and loving it!”
Meanwhile, a 26-year-old Martha Truslow Smith also decided that she’s had enough of the stigma surrounding gray hair and founded the Instagram account Grombre as a place of support and positivity for those women who choose to embrace their roots. “Grombre” is a play on “ombré,” a trend in hair color that was everywhere a couple of years ago. Grombre caused such a buzz on social media that it immediately amassed 225k followers on Instagram.
“The underlying reason I started Grombre was to start a different dialogue around gray hair on women and find the answer to some earnest questions of my own: "Is it true that my gray hair is ugly, makes me look old, and means I'm no longer good enough?” Martha told Bored Panda in a previous interview.
Grombre paved the way for many more inspiring social media accounts that celebrated going gray. Finally, women could feel empowered in the sense that they no longer felt like they had to hide something which is inherently natural. As a result, the belief promoted by hair salons and hair coloring products that gray hair somehow shows that a woman doesn't put effort into her beauty is now steadily disappearing.
But according to the founder of Grombre, “The thing about silver hair dye is that it’s just that; it’s dye,” Martha told us. “I respectfully don’t understand the comparison between natural silver hair and dyed silver hair: between these two, one challenges the perspective of yourself, your priorities, and your insecurities, all while being a public statement of vulnerability that takes patience to endure, while the other is a chosen color that can change on any given day and may or may not reflect your natural self.”
Martha believes that the comparison takes two different categories and wraps it up in several neglected conversations. “This isn’t said to knock anyone who is dyeing their hair—if you enjoy it, go for it! If you don’t, then the question I ask is: should you have to?”
Note: this post originally had 39 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.