Discover more from Wonderstruck from Siobhan Curham
Grey hair don't care
In the past month, three women have told me that I’m - and I quote - ‘SO BRAVE!’
Was it because I’m giving up my home to travel the world?
Was it because I recently went to war-torn Ukraine?
Was it because I fearlessly fought off a herd of buffalo on the way to the shops.*
No. (*I’ve only actually done two of the above examples but I ran out of ideas.)
The reason these women think I’m ‘so brave’ is because I’ve stopped dying my hair, and I’m allowing it to go grey (cue dramatic, DA DA DA!!!!! music and a crash of cymbals).
Here’s the thing… I’ve always really liked grey, silver or white hair. So when my roots started to come through grey and silver I began phasing out my blonde hair dye and I’ve now got to the point where I only have a few blonde ends left and the rest is au naturel - an interesting blend of grey, with silvery-white highlights.
I’d been thinking that it looked kind of cool - until not one, not two, but three people told me that it was ‘so brave’ to do.
Now, what I’m about to write is in no way a criticism of those women. It’s a criticism of the messed up world we live in, where women are made to feel that ageing is something to be terrified or ashamed of and therefore if you show your age past a certain age, you’re incredibly brave.
Excuse my language, but this is such bullshit!
And I can’t help feeling that it’s yet another way to keep women playing small. Every minute we spend picking over our reflections in mirrors, every penny we spend on cosmetic procedures designed to make us look younger (but very seldom do) could be far better spent on pursuing our passions and living life to the full.
Because life is beautiful and growing old is a gift that not everyone is lucky enough to receive.
A few years ago, a friend of mine who was just 34 died from leukaemia. She was one of the most vivacious and positive people I’ve ever met. Even when she was diagnosed it didn’t dampen her zest for life and she took part in numerous sponsored walks and triathlons to raise money for leukaemia charities. When she lost all of her long blonde hair following chemo she took it on the chin, and embraced the new short curly dark hair that eventually grew back in its place.
When she died everyone who knew her was heartbroken. It felt like such a cruel blow for the world to lose such a positive force of nature. Subsequently, any time I find myself feeling a little wistful about growing older I think of her and I remind myself how fortunate I am.
I’m fifty-three years old and I have grey hair and, quite frankly, I don’t effing care.
I don’t care because I love my life and I love and feel grateful for being my age.
I’m grateful that I have 53 years of wisdom and experience under my belt.
I’m grateful that this has given me the confidence to travel the world solo.
I’m grateful for the furnace of hard times I’ve experienced for forging me into such a free spirit.
I’m grateful that I’ve built a career that has made me completely self-sufficient.
I’m grateful that I’ve never felt more sexually confident or fulfilled.
I’m grateful that I’ve reached a point in my life where I don’t feel the need for a home base because I’ve learned that I can make a home anywhere, even if it’s just for a week.
I’m grateful that I feel the urge for expansion and adventure, rather than shrinking my life to work and the sofa as I get older.
And I’m grateful that I’m able to question the narrative about women, ageing and looks, and spend my time, money and energy pursuing my dreams - rather than falling victim to society’s fear-based nightmares.
Until next week, here’s to celebrating our precious lives - and our age!