With quarantine closing salons, many of us have been embracing our silver strands, challenging the cultural message that youth = beauty.
True story: for years, I’ve been looking forward to going gray. Not because it’s a sign of wisdom or because I want to embrace my age or anything like that – actually, I just think silver hair is superhero-level awesome. From Rogue to Storm to Killer Frost, most of my favorite female superheroes rock their silver locks. To me, silver hair has always seemed weird, otherworldly, and downright cool … which is why I enthusiastically encouraged my mom to stop coloring her hair a few years ago and embrace the gray. She was reluctant at first, but now she has an absolutely gorgeous head of silvery white, wavy hair … and in no way does it make her look older. Actually, she looks trendier and more beautiful than ever, which only enhanced my enthusiasm for embracing the gray.
I don’t often color my hair, actually. It’s too hard to keep up with it, and as a mom of five, it’s an extravagance I don’t feel comfortable with. But at my annual haircut in December (don’t judge!), I asked for some highlights and low lights to mix things up. I really loved the result, so for the first time in my life I actually made an appointment to get them touched up — before I even left the salon.
Unfortunately, that appointment was set for three days after our state’s stay-at-home order went into effect. But instead of being disappointed, I was mostly curious to see if my hair would magically transform into the long-awaited silver as it grew out—especially since my face is still relatively unlined (the flipside of oily skin that caused much acne and angst a few decades ago). I’d like to rock a head of superhero silver hair before I gradually embrace a more granny-gray vibe, ya know?
With salons being closed, I haven’t been the only woman in this situation. Despite the popularity of gray hair in recent years, most women still feel more comfortable covering them up. But with the pandemic taking that option off the table, going gray in quarantine has become a legit thing. There are Instagram accounts and hashtags associated with it, and articles and blog posts written about it.
I’ve loved watching celebrities document their ever-growing silver strands as quarantine has gone on. I do think there’s a lot to be said for embracing and destigmatizing the natural signs of aging, especially for women. We’re steeped in a culture that worships youth and constantly bombarded by messages pushing us to look younger, fitter, and more appealing. But what’s more appealing than a woman living a full and happy life, growing older with grace and poise while rejecting the notion that she must cling to youth to be beautiful? It’s a message our culture desperately needs to hear … and in our media-driven consumer society, a picture is definitely worth 1,000 words. This quarantine is providing an unexpectedly brilliant opportunity to spread that message far and wide.
For my part, I have to admit that I’ve been wildly disappointed by my newly silver strands. They showed up, all right — and they’re the perfect shade of superhero silver. But they’re all in my eyebrows instead of my head.
Y’all, silver eyebrows are not a thing. They have never been a thing. There is nothing superhero-esque or awesome about having a head of blonde hair and nearly-invisible silver eyebrows. I freely admit that my eyebrow pencil has seen a lot more action these past few months, and I don’t anticipate that slowing down.
Which brings me to a moral dilemma: given that I just waxed eloquent about women embracing the signs of aging, does this make me a hypocrite? Probably. But I guess we all draw our lines somewhere. When superhero start sporting silver eyebrows, maybe I’ll be able to drum up the courage and put down the eye pencil.