I Let My Hair Go Gray at 31, and the #SilverSisters Movement Helped Me Learn To Love It
When I sat down in the chair, though, my longtime stylist asked, “Why the gray? You’re so young and so pretty,” as if to suggest that gray hair was… ugly and only for old women.
Leaving the salon, I felt upset and alone. Because gray hair transitions are such a visual process, they often bring about the type of negative, unwanted attention that I got from my stylist. And at first, showing up to social events and even work meetings seemed daunting because of unsolicited comments and stares. At the time, I was the only one in my group of friends who had decided to ditch the dye, which made me feel like I was venturing on a long, solo hike without a map. I knew I needed a support system to get me through this process.
Thankfully, a simple search of the Internet introduced me to the Silver Sisters movement. Across social media, I was introduced to thousands of women from all over the world who are going gray, white, or silver and putting it all out there to be seen.
The Silver Sisters movement
To date, #silversisters has nearly 500,000 posts on Instagram (and a cool 284 million views on TikTok) from people all over the world who are on a journey similar to my own.
Though the community has come to mean different things to different people, there are still some common threads woven throughout its messaging. It’s a digital (and sometimes, IRL) sisterhood of people rebelling against the conventional beauty standard that’s taught us that gray hair is “bad” or “shameful” while also acknowledging that every “member” of the community will have a different path, hair type, philosophy, and background. At its core, it’s a shift from shame and anti-aging rhetoric to liberation and radical acceptance.
Embedded within the Silver Sister movement is an analysis of beauty standards and expectations placed on those who identify as women. It allows for commentary on the way we view and speak about aging. It flips the script, shifting the conversation around aging and the bodily changes that come with it into something that should be celebrated. The community provides the proven remedy of strength in numbers and raising our voices as a collective.
“The ‘Silver Sisters’ Movement’ is a shift towards embracing parts of yourself that people are often made to feel embarrassed or ashamed about,” writes one member, who goes by the Instagram handle @silverstrandsofglitter. “It’s about remembering that we each have a choice in how we want to age, no matter how that looks. It focuses on lifting, encouraging, and supporting one another in life. It's doing what works for you and what makes you happy and not worrying about what other people think. Which isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it.”
The community continues to grow
In the years since the 2020 lockdown inspired many to ditch the dye for good (even Jane Fonda got on board), the Silver Sister movement has continued to grow, connecting people who are just beginning to go gray with those who have been embracing the movement for years. Part of what makes the community so powerful is that we can see ourselves in each other, and new Silver Sisters can feel encouraged by those who are farther along in their journeys.
“When I started transitioning 5 years ago there wasn't really a movement, I just knew I needed to embrace my own kind of beautiful,” says Georgina Juarez, who’s known as @curlysilverfox within the Silver Sisters community. “Honestly it was hard to find other Silver Sisters who looked like me. I'm of indigenous descent with curly hair, darker features. It wasn't really the norm at 39, [but] I was able to connect with some, and over the years the community began to grow… It's been a beautiful thing to witness and be a part of.”
Proudly a Silver Sister
In deciding to let my grays grow out, I was faced with negative criticism that upheld the antiquated idea that gray hair is somehow less beautiful. But as the Silver Sisters community has proven, it is not.
Ultimately, the movement is about so much more than “just” hair. It’s an acknowledgment that if you can conquer one thing in your life that society tells you to conceal or cover—like your gray hair—you can conquer anything.
Now, when I walk down the street, I notice so many more women who have also embraced their natural gray hair, and it makes me feel more included than ever before. Want a membership of your own? You’re in, and will be welcomed with open arms.
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