Who the heck loves gray hair?  I was always taught by my hairstylist, women in my family and the media that gray hair was something to hide. When a stylist was creating my beautiful updo for my wedding at age 23, she said, “Oh, I see some gray hairs already.”  What??? I panicked and soon after I began the cycle of root dying and highlighting to hide the dreaded gray.  This cycle continued for the next 25 years.

Around two years ago I started changing.  I read books by Brenè Brown. I began seeing a therapist. I took anti-anxiety medication.  I began to explore my authentic self.  Who am I? What do I believe in? What do I want to do with my life? I tried to quiet the voices in my head that said, “You should do this, be that…”  It has been a painful but wonderful discovery process.

I marked this change with a clear line on the top of my head. I stopped dying my hair completely. I created a ring, like the ring of a tree that marks its years of life. Before I started this adventure, I did ask my stylist if she could highlight my hair gray to make the transition gentler. She tried, but the highlights just came out blond like always. That was fine, I was starting my adventure anyway!

Over a year has passed and I have around 6 inches of gray hair. It’s mixed in with the mousy brown of my youth. Most days I feel like the gray highlights are beautiful. Pictures of me outdoors shock me because the sun reflects off gray locks in my part.  But what is gray hair?  Gray hair is maturity, wisdom, history. I have earned these gray hairs. I have lived, learned, loved, cried, celebrated. And I have changed.

Equality is a value we need more of in our society. Men have embraced gray hair for centuries. Men with Salt ‘n Pepper hair are ‘distinguished’.  Women with gray hair look ‘haggy’. This double standard needs to stop. Both men and women should be celebrated for their signs of maturity.

I also have to tie in the financial impact of this decision.  I estimate that I’ve spent approximately $1,000 per year on my hair between professional stylists and products.  If I would have invested that $1,000 every year and earned 7%, I would have over $67,000!  Wow.

For all these reasons, I love my gray hair. I do not judge anyone that dyes their hair, whether it’s to cover gray or change to pink, purple or green. We can all celebrate our authentic self anyway we choose. It is important that we accept people for who they are and enjoy their beauty.