‘Would the gray hair accentuate every crinkle and wrinkle on my face?’ I hesitantly stepped forward into the magic.’: Pro-aging woman shares self-love journey

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“There comes a moment in a women’s life when she arrives at her place of self. How she arrives there is as unique as her life experiences. Some arrive very quickly, skidding in sideways, while others of us take the scenic route. However, we all eventually arrive. This place of self is an acceptance and an appreciation of one’s self. I feel— no, I know— this space is harder for a seasoned woman to arrive at than it is a man. As our society continues to celebrate youthful women, it shuns and slams the door on the aging woman.

My journey to self-started in 2019, when I began to release ideas of what I had learned about life over the last 40 something years. I feel like we all go through this ‘unlearning’ period at some point in our lives. It was at this time I first thought about what I wanted the second half of my life to look like. I knew I wanted to be authentic to myself and I wanted to completely embrace the beauty of aging. I had toggled the idea of ditching the hair dye for a while. I was constantly planning hair appointments around events and vacations and it became an extra chore I was seriously sick of doing.

Courtesy of Jennifer Lee

However, I knew this would be a struggle for me because all of my life I had been recognized by my black hair and it felt like I would be losing a part of my identity (silly, I know). I was afraid to take this leap because, while aging men are looked upon as distinguished silver foxes, the same isn’t true for women embracing their gray! Women are often thought of as someone that has let themselves go.

My husband had been telling me for years to stop coloring my hair and my two boys echoed his words. The unknown of what was waiting underneath the dark dye was terrifying to me! I was completely convinced I would have an entire head of white, wirey, wild hair. Would I need to change the colors of my wardrobe? Would I need to change the way I did my makeup? Would the gray hair accentuate every crinkle and wrinkle on my face?

Courtesy of Jennifer Lee

I think I thought about it so much I exhausted myself and by January of 2020, just before my 48th birthday, I decided to hesitantly step forward into the magic of an aging woman. From January until April, I quietly began growing out my silvers (grateful in March when we entered a lockdown and I was able to hide in my house).

By the middle of April, I was 3 months into this journey and was beginning to become uncomfortable with the reflection in the mirror. It was also evident this was going to be a painfully slow process and for someone who lacks patience, this was a hard reality! I decided I needed to hold myself accountable and document my transition to gray hair. So, I did what anyone would do… I put it out there for the entire world to see!

Courtesy of Jennifer Lee

I created an Instagram account and began keeping a digital diary of my process. What transpired from starting this account was pure magic! I found an entire community of beautiful, smart, inspiring, tenderhearted well-seasoned women from all walks of life and from every corner of the globe. Women like myself who wanted to destroy the image of the aging woman and yet still had reservations. We leaned into each other… sharing stories and experiences. As we did this, we gathered strength, and as our strength grew, so did our community! Women everywhere started showing up as their authentic, beautiful, aging selves. I’m in no way taking credit for this movement, it’s been happening for a few years now. However, since I have stepped into it, there has been a definite boom in growth!

Courtesy of Jennifer Lee

Then in early fall, sometime in September when I was in my eighth month of transitioning, something happened. I discovered not only was I happy with how healthy my hair had become, but I truly loved what I was seeing! You see, each woman’s color and pattern is uniquely her own and mine was nothing I had originally thought it would be. It didn’t have nearly as much white in it (actually, it had no white, but instead this amazing silver steel color). And all the silvers framed my face while the rest was salt and pepper in color. I didn’t have to change my wardrobe or my makeup and actually, the softer colors around my face were more forgiving to my crows-feet and laugh lines!

Courtesy of Jennifer Lee

I still have at least another year before all my dyed ends are completely gone, but I can not emphasize enough how much this process has changed my life. I feel more confident and comfortable with myself than I ever did in my younger years. And with this new outlook also came a newfound joy. And we all know life is a boomerang, that what you put out into the universe will always return to you!

New doors and opportunities have presented themselves and I’m excited to see what the future holds! Women everywhere are elevating our voices and denouncing the myth aging is anything other than amazing! I feel there is a definite shift happening. You see more and more aging women being represented on many different platforms. However, we have a ways to go! The more we continue to live an unapologetic life and put ourselves out there, the more we will see the shift in how we are viewed. There is power in allowing yourself to become what you are meant to be. The growth that occurs is as much an inward growth as it is outward!

Courtesy of Jennifer Lee

One of my favorite quotes on pro-aging is by Gloria Steinem. She says, ‘Women turn radical with age. One day an army of gray-haired women may quietly take over the earth.’ Gosh, I sure hope so! If you are considering allowing your natural sparkles to shine, I encourage you to let go of any predetermined ideas of how this journey will look for you! Just like life you never know what’s ahead or around the corner waiting for you! Imagine wasting years and money covering up something that not only looks beautiful but also can spark so much joy in your life!

We don’t need to look like we’re in our twenties… we’ve already been there and done that! We can be sexy and carefree while stepping into our second half of life (probably even more than our younger sisters because we have the wisdom and experiences). And please don’t think I’m saying all women need to stop dying their hair! I simply want to offer encouragement for the ladies that are entertaining the idea!

With aging comes an understanding of self and what pro-aging looks like to one will be completely different from the next… you do you boo! Also, it’s a really good idea to look up #silversisters and see some beautiful pro-aging women and read about their transitions and journeys, they are quite inspiring! So whether you arrive quickly or take the back roads, I encourage you to just show up for yourself and for your sisters! Grayer, bolder, wiser…. We are arriving!”

Courtesy of Jennifer Lee

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jennifer Lee. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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