There's an Instagram account dedicated to getting women to embrace their natural grays, and they are here for it. Turns out, a lot of women are sick and tired of society pressuring them into spending precious hours and dollars in hair salons. Shocking, right? Martha Truslow Smith created Going grey with (grohm)(bray) in 2016 with a simple, yet difficult mission: to start a different dialogue around gray hair on women. Now, it has over 102K followers and it's probably safe to say that people think it's a conversation we have to be having.
“I got married last year. I had people saying ‘you should dye your hair for your wedding. You’ll regret it. You’re going to look so old!’. I could not be happier about the fact that I was MYSELF on my wedding day!”
Martha was interested in answering the question 'Is it true that my gray hair is ugly, makes me look old, and means I'm no longer good enough?' And after many, many selfie submissions and even more comments under them, she's found the answer. "I’m only in my twenties. If that is true, how will I feel and what will I believe about myself when I’m in my 40s, 50s, 60s?" Martha told Bored Panda in an earlier interview. "I want to challenge the way we think about what we consider 'beautiful,' and why, and propose that we have more important things to spend our precious time, energy and resources on if we find our hearts aren’t aligning with the things we find to be someone else’s biases."
“Not a week goes by that I'm not stopped in public and delivered a sweet compliment on my hair. Women, primarily, will usually say, ‘Your gray is so beautiful! If mine looked like that, maybe I'd have the courage to grow it out.’ My answer is always: How do you know what you have hiding under there, waiting to take shape??? All silver sisters have their unique pattern or calling card, and I've yet to see one that isn't stunning in its own right. Own it!”
Rudimental hair colorants have a long history. They date back to ancient Egyptian and Roman cultures (pickled leeches or urine hair baths, anyone?) but emerged in their modern form around the turn of the 20th Century. And as the image of the "perfect housewife" made its way into the 1950s pop culture, brands such as L'Oréal and Clairol began marketing safe and discreet at-home colors. If women wanted to remain fertile and youthful, their appearance had to look accordingly.
“Going grey has been a life changer for me. I have a completely different outlook on aging and life in general. The process definitely gave me a willpower I didn’t know I had. The journey is empowering! I love my hair! I love me!”
“Over 2 years dye free and I love not being a slave to the dye, best decision ever. Also trying to be brave with my choice of colours, I might even wear the red lips in public!”
Interestingly, most of what we consider 'premature' greying actually isn't. Professor Desmond Tobin, a hair and skin pigmentation specialist at the University of Bradford in the UK, told the BBC that it is perfectly normal for people from European backgrounds to start greying in their early 20s. A research he collaborated on found that different races have different average aging rates - with African and East-Asian backgrounds tending to whiten later. But while some people do have a genetic predisposition to lose pigment or go bald more than others, a lot of other factors influence our hair follicle production, too (including hormones and stress).
“I just started cgm in January - so I’m trying a lot of different products for what might work. Still new to the cgm products but not to the curls that have been quite fierce my entire life”
“I got my first gray streak right in the front center of my hair. It seemed my Mom and I were the only ones to appreciate my boldness and the trendsetter I pride myself on the gray/silver began. Of course I got the "you would look younger if you dye your hair." Me being an older parent, my young son thought the gray/silver hair made me look older than his dyed hair classmates mothers. For his sake , after it got more streaks I decided to put a rinse on my hair. I did it twice, it was beautiful and I looked younger but quickly realized that at my age I wanted to look great not necessary younger. With my confidence and head full of silver/gray hair I've begin to get more and more compliments as my hair color changed. Being myself, embracing my beautiful strands way before it became a thing has been and still is the best glamour decision I have ever made.”
“I’ve had my fair share of people telling me I’m too young to have salt and pepper hair. Their words have stung at first, but have actually made me want to keep growing out my grays even more. Gray doesn’t mean old, of frumpy or that I’ve let myself go. Silver is strong and sexy. I’ve seen my true colors for the first time in 15 years, and couldn’t be happier with the results!”
"Everyday I feel so grateful for my gray hair. It makes me unique, for my age (34), and it's such low maintenance! My first gray hair showed up when I was 17 but it really didn't come in thick until about 30 and that's when I stopped dying my roots. My original color is very very dark brown so when I knew I was going to let the gray take over I colored the majority of my hair white blonde. As it started to grow out the transition was much more seamless. The top half of my hair is always natural and I love how intentional it looks"
"Less self-conscious... More self-aware. 13 months dye free and loving my hair and myself more everyday.”
“I was born with 1 grey hair. By the time I was a teenager I had grey hair at the front, black/brown at the back. I use to dye it constantly till I reached 40. Then it was like a light bulb went off. I suddenly didn't care what anyone thought of me. I danced at parties for the first time in my life, I didn't care if I was overweight. I didn't care if my hair was Grey/white. I embraced me. I stopped dyeing my hair. Suddenly I felt free to be me. My only regret was waiting so long. I have had strangers come up to me in the street asking about my hair. I have even had random strangers start stroking my hair,like they are memorised. My hair is white at the front and salt and pepper at the back. And I would not have it any other way.”
"I sat with the idea of going gray for years. I let it stew in the back of my mind as I scheduled my days around my next dye session; scouring Pinterest and Youtube for inspiration. I was dyeing my hair every 2-3 weeks but seeing roots every 2-3 days. I have a long list of reasons I was done with the dye. Even now I read posts by my silver sisters and think, 'Yes!! that too!' The process was definitely tough at times. It’s a mind game, really. And there are so many thoughts that pushed me through. This is one of them... I have been fascinated by my father’s silver for YEARS. It looked SO cool when he was just a bit of salt and a whole lot of pepper and it’s now this amazing silver with just the slightest touch of dark. I loved every stage of watching his silver come in. At some point I realized I didn’t want to miss out on that. I want to watch time paint more and more silver through my hair. It’s a slow magic but magic nonetheless."
"I feel more confident since I decided to let my grey shine. I dyed my hair a while ago and immediately regretted doing so; like I’d washed my identity away. While I’m still learning to deal with the new texture, I love seeing my tinsel tresses in the mirror!"
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer 12/2016. Chemo caused my hair to fall out and it grew back gray (mostly in the front). I get compliments on it all the time. "
"Recently a stranger at the store referred to my hair as a skunk and that was so upsetting to me because it’s taken me a long time to love myself for who I am. And a sweet friend of mine sent me the most beautiful text to cheer me up: 'I feel like God wants me to say this to you. I saw your post about your hair and what that lady said. I just want you to know that God says you are beautifully and wonderfully made. He knew what He wanted you to look like and it is truly beautiful. I love your hair and it looks perfect on you. '
“I have traveled a lot and received opinions from many different cultures. Some fully embrace it, viewing it as an asset and others are confused as to why I don’t dye it. No matter what, it makes me smile because it just is what it is! If I can inspire others to discontinue buying harsh chemicals that end up in our bodies and water system, then that’s a win for me. To be naturally and purely yourself is a gift we can first give to ourselves and then watch as it ripples out.”
“I am a 22 years old Mexican-American from the Chicago-land area. I began growing a few strands of grey hair around 12 years old. During my high school years I would constantly dye my hair because of how embarrassed I would feel when someone would call them out. Within the last 2 years however, I have been letting them flourish & grow to their fullest grey potential & it has been the best decision I’ve done. It has given me a closer sense of connection to where I come from and how to love everything that I was born with.”
“I decided enough was enough. No more hiding behind this box of dye. I feel so proud of myself for taking the ‘scary’ leap and embracing the process of going naturally grey. It’s been fun and exciting and liberating. So much more than I ever imagined it would be!”
“I discontinued dying my hair in 2010 after my son was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. I thought how can I tell him to rock what you're given, when I was hiding what I was given. So the journey began.”
“Going silver for the wedding was pre-meditated since I had already started the growing out process with a pixie cut. It was just a question of how much would be grown out by the wedding, and how would I style it. Eventually, I leaned in and decided to frame my silver with an actual crown, and forego covering it with a veil. Even if I one day to go back to dye (which I doubt I will) at least I’ll know that I was truly myself on my wedding day.”
"Sorry I can’t hear you over the volume of my hair. Here’s to turning up the volume and not listening to the expectations or opinions of others. Love who you are. Know you are created for a purpose."
“For over the past 12 years, I’ve spent countless hours constantly dying my hair to cover what I thought aged me. I got tired but never wanted to take that leap, afraid of how I’d be perceived. It wasn’t until last year while pregnant with my second child, that I decided to embrace my natural hair color. Embracing me, the way God made me, has been such a beautifully freeing experience and I’m loving every step of this journey.”
“I started going grey in my early teens and started dyeing my hair at age 16. I’m 14 months dye free now and I’m so happy I made the choice to stop colouring my hair. I love the journey to my natural hair, it’s so exciting to finally see my natural hair colour. My only regret is that I didn’t stop sooner!”
“In my 10 months of not dying my lovely silver hair. Have more confidence and I am who I am”
“Nearly 5 months and counting! I dyed my hair for the last time on November 4, 2018. I’m 41 and started prematurely graying at 30. (I get it from my Daddy ) Before then, I had accepted that dyeing my hair was going to be my life until I’m at least in my 50s because gray hair “made me look so old and like I’ve let myself go”. I was really fine with coloring it even though it was an annoying, timely and messy process at home and expensive at salons. My husband had been encouraging me to grow out my gray hair for years, but I wasn’t ready. Then, (I don’t even remember precisely how it happened) I started seeing here on Instagram that I wasn’t alone, that I wasn’t the only woman whose gray strands were taking over her hair. AND that I wasn’t alone in my initial feelings of frustration and sometimes embarrassment that my hair color didn’t fall in line with traditional beauty/age standards. The last straw was seeing gray hairs make their debut less than two weeks after coloring! I realized it was time to give up and let nature run its course with dignity. So here I am! I’m natural, but I recently straightened my hair to stretch it and see how far it’s grown. Here is my journey so far.”
“Been gray a while and have completely embraced my crown of wisdom over the last couple years. Loving this time in my life right now.”