Growing grey: An unexpected silver lining of 2020

Growing grey: An unexpected silver lining of 2020

I’ve been waiting for this moment … all my life, I joked with a girlfriend as we feigned Phil Collins’s In the Air Tonight drumbeat (over the phone to ensure safe social distancing). I proceeded to explain why – at the age of 34 – I’d been inspired by the COVID-19-induced salon shutdown to grow out my grey hair.

I think this viral image of a hairdresser wearing an umbrella with eye holes cut out helped seal the decision. 

I started going grey in my early 20s and assumed my natural colour was best kept hidden under very unnatural toxic dyes. I’d held jobs where it was part of the uniform requirement that women dye any grey hair, but men (or so-called silver foxes) didn’t have to.

“You look much younger dark, you should keep dying it,” was the consensus from friends and family. Ugly, old, unprofessional, and unpopular is what I assumed.

I’d feel anxious every two-and-a-half weeks when fresh silvers would sprout up and spend a silly amount of time and money covering them up – until COVID hit and I found myself between jobs.

I joined a few “growing grey” Facebook groups to figure out how it was done and found women (and some men) around the world who looked younger, happier, healthier, and far more confident and relaxed rocking their natural greys.

I interviewed for my current job via Zoom and working from home helped ease the transition as I could just tilt the screen slightly if I felt self-conscious and wanted to camouflage the grow out.

Despite this year being what it’s been – full of suffering, heartbreak, job losses, births, deaths, and family separated by interstate and international borders – one thing I am grateful for is the experience of embracing my greys.

As a human who has so-far survived a global pandemic the need to colour my hair has certainly plummeted down the priority list.

Some people are shocked, others love it and feel inspired.

It may have seemed radical prior to 2020, but ironically grey hair (and facemasks) are now on-trend.

Regardless of what the feedback has been, I now know that it works for me.

I feel more honest about who I am and have accepted my body (particularly my hair follicles) reflect my time spent on Earth.

I’ve earnt every grey hair on my head, as I have each wrinkle and sunspot on my skin.

According to Proverbs 16:31, Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.

Quite possibly taken out of context (and highly unlikely to apply to my personal situation), but it’s just another nice reminder that I made the right decision for me this year by going grey.

Ashley Donnelly


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