Just this morning I opened a message on my Instagram account from a 27-year-old woman who said, “I’m starting to get some gray hairs. I’ve never dyed my hair in my life and I’m looking for inspiration and advice to see if I can just let my hair naturally turn gray… I really don’t want to dye it.”
What warms my heart the most about these messages is that in today’s world — in the year 2020 — this young woman doesn’t have to look far and wide for advice anymore: amazingly, there’s a tidal wave of women in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond absolutely rocking their natural gray hair.
But it wasn’t always that way. Just 12 years ago, while living in the “au natural capital of the world,” Boulder, Colorado, I only knew of two women in their 40s with natural silver hair… so why in the world would I, a then 43-year-old dyed brunette, dare to embrace my natural silver?
That’s easy: I was sick of dying my roots every 3 days. Ironically, the decision was further inspired by my booking agent telling me that I would get more modeling work due to being a “younger-looking” old person for clients with brands that catered to the elderly. When I finally chose to embrace it, the pushback I received from a few friends and family was hard, but the hardest part was going through the year-and-a-half long hair transition process.
Here’s what I learned: I could continue on my path of people-pleasing and approval-seeking or I could let the pushback fuel my resolve to be bold, confident, and do what was right for me.
It felt really good to abandon the former and choose the latter. This, by the way, is one of the beautiful things that come with age. It’s wonderful to finally experience the intellectual wisdom we’ve always known deep down.
There’s only one other time in my life that I can compare with this hair transition odyssey. I was a 14-year-old girl just diagnosed with scoliosis. I was told I’d have to wear a back brace for two years, every day, for 23 hours a day. The brace started just under my chin and ended below my bum. I ultimately wore the brace my 8th-grade year through my freshman year in college. I entered the brace a skinny, scrawny girl and came out a full-fledged woman!
As you can imagine, my hair transition journey had the same “butterfly” effect. I started with very dark hair, went through a year and half of varying colors and lengths, and finally landed with salt and pepper hair. In both cases, however, the transformations didn’t end with how I looked.
Both forced me to not focus on and draw value from my outward appearance and, instead, completely focus on my inner beauty. Humility, empathy, compassion, and enjoying the fruits of more altruistic pursuits are the pearls of wisdom that result from a journey where your ego takes a hit.
Of course, I’m sure I already possessed these qualities in varying degrees — especially after round one with the back brace — but there’s always a deeper place to go with these things, constant refining that happens as we walk through life. And as much as I love my good posture and silver hair, I’m most grateful for the life lessons these seasons seared on my heart.
Transformation is a powerful thing. The problem is that we have to let go of one to receive the other. With aging, we have to release the past to fully embrace the now. I didn’t say the future, because I believe to live a pro-age lifestyle means embracing where I am today, enjoying the season of life I’m in right now, and not trying to be who I was in my 20s, 30s, and even my 40s. Just as important, living a pro-age lifestyle for me means endeavoring to be the best version of myself at this moment in all of its forms.
I love being in what I call the “age of wisdom.” It’s exciting to see how all of life’s ups and downs, joys, and sorrows have shaped the woman I’ve become. Even better (and for sure more humbling), is being a source of wisdom for a 27-year-old woman who’s just coming to terms with her natural silver strands, seeking advice and inspiration.
International silver-haired model, Manon Crespi, is the founder and CEO of Manon des Sources, a premium hair care brand for natural silver hair. She grew into her role as a leader and influencer in the silver hair space over 12 years ago when she first started the transition from her dyed black hair to her natural silver hair. A wife and mother of four adult children, Manon lives in Boulder, CO with her husband and golden doodle, Chauncy.