Here’s my story about when I transitioned to gray hair and kept busy on social media platforms created for bold women like me. Silver Sisters Community supports women’s transition to self-acceptance, as well as the #GrayHairMovement, in general. We celebrate, empower, encourage, motivate and inspire each other. Those are some of the online and offline activities that help women with gray hair thrive and live their lives to the fullest!
It’s undeniable that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But even if the Internet culture is moving toward a change in mentality and generating debate about what we should consider beautiful or not, the social norms to which we’ve subscribed are so anchored in some of us that it’s really difficult to break free from them. My name is Marina García-Trevijano, I am 43 years old, and I am from Spain. This is worth the mention only if you are familiar with traditional beauty standards in Spanish society. There are so many labels based on appearance, people are quite critical toward others and themselves …
I have been to many countries; I spent 1 year in the U.S. at the age of 16 and moved to Austria 18 years ago. The idea that different countries have different standards of beauty is a widely accepted one. In the country I now live, people seem to be more relaxed about their looks and tend to judge less or not care at all about how others look. This has probably made my transition to gray easier than it would have been in my home country.
I found my first gray hair at the age of 11, and since my dad went gray at a young age and I only knew him when he was gray, this didn’t surprise me much. At the age of 17, my grays became a horror show! I was already aware of the beauty norm that dictates society, that any woman with gray hair has “let herself go”, so I decided to start coloring it. I started with blond. I have to admit, I loved it! Covering my grays was fun at the beginning. I got to experiment with different colors, until the age of 30, when I just chose to dye it what I thought was my “natural color”: dark brown.
I never questioned what I was putting on my scalp, 3-4 times a month, or even considered quitting despite it causing severe hair loss and itching. I shamelessly ignored it for quite a long time, until April 2016 — my first and only grow-out attempt! There wasn’t much thinking behind my decision; I had just had enough.
That day, that woman not comfortable in her own skin, terrified somebody could spot her grays, decided to embrace her natural hair. I wasn’t afraid; I was excited! I felt liberated from the tyranny of the beauty ideals I had been obeying for so long! I wanted to ditch the chemicals. I was ready to show the world the real me. I was thrilled and somewhat curious about how my real hair color would look. I felt comfortable, then; finally, I wasn’t being conditioned by anything other than my free will. This, added to the fact that, as a working single mom of three children, it’s not really practical to spend my precious time chasing my roots every week!
Well, some people said this would make me look old, others said that I was really brave! I realized that if you stand out in any way, you will have positive and negative reactions. I learned that you can’t always blend into the crowd, but the truth is this was never my goal. At this point, I was unstoppable; I was determined and excited about my new path! Being myself, accepting myself and not caring about other people’s opinions — that was the true self I was about to embrace completely…
I went to my hair salon and asked them to lighten my hair. The reaction wasn’t satisfying at all. Apparently, if the color you are transitioning away from is almost black, like mine was, this would cause irreversible damage to the hair, and it would cost lots of money and time! And, I still wouldn’t have the color I was expecting! After all, I had decided to get rid of all the chemicals, as well as the time and money spent on the tint! A pixie cut could have been an option, but I wasn’t ready for a drastic change of color and cut at the same time! I just chose to go gray cold turkey, no color corrections, no interfering in my natural grow-out process — even if this surely wasn’t the most stylish solution…
Anyone who has started going gray knows that this doesn’t happen overnight; it’s a process that seems to take forever, and you have good and bad days. I never felt tempted to dye my hair again, though! I was focused, had a goal in mind, and every day I was closer to it. The reactions concerning my hair transition were very different, but “outing” myself was so empowering that I managed the negative comments just as confidently as I was already feeling. I didn’t know how the whole thing would end up.
I had 2.5 years (that’s how long it took me to fully transition my hair color) to get used to the new me, and, with every inch of growth of my two-toned hair, I felt more free, more me than I had ever felt. The reactions now are significantly more positive than negative to my grays. People stare, ask, comment and admire my decision to go natural. Most comments come from strangers, and I feel flattered and honored to now know that I have inspired or encouraged some women to go gray, as well!
I’m not going to judge women who dye their hair or even dare to say that they are not being real or are not embracing who they are! Everyone should feel free to dye or not to dye their hair, use makeup or not, go with fashion or not! We should feel good about ourselves as a whole, physically and mentally. I wasn’t feeling good with my hair dye, so I made the decision to stop using it.
I think the important thing here is to create a social conscience rooted in respect for other humans, to eliminate labels and break beauty taboos. We need to stop feeding ourselves with stereotypes, which are idealized and unreal. The only way we could defy these pre-established standards is by putting more emphasis on culture and less on our outer appearance, realizing we are not united by our bodies but by our brains.
My transition to gray hasn’t only shown me the plan nature had with me and my silver strands., but it also has shown me what I am capable of doing. This is more than just a hair color. This is a movement. This is transition to self acceptance. This is embracing who we are and what we stand for. I now surprise myself realizing I’m not only not ashamed to have gray hair, I am happy and proud to have it!
When I first started an account on IG, I was already 1 year into my transition to gray. I very soon discovered that there was a strong movement going on on Instagram! Women who were transitioning to gray started to comment on my pictures and so did I! I have to admit, I was confident and determined enough not to need any support or motivation to stay strong. But this journey that started with hair ultimately became so much more. People from all over the globe supporting, empowering, encouraging, motivating and inspiring each other in so many ways became a movement! I experienced the kind of support that’s often rare to find even face to face.
To the people thinking that social media is full of superficial, self-obsessed people, I want to prove them wrong! The connection I have found in social media is surreal sometimes! Supportive Instagram groups, such as @grombre, @embrace.the.gray, @silverandfree, @silversistersinternational, @cottonhairedwomen, @artinaging, @flyageless and @thesilverwomen, just to name a few, are amazing accounts supporting silver sisters.
You can also find amazing Facebook groups, such as GGG (Going Gray Guide), Silver Revolution, Grombre and Silver Sisters International. My favorite YouTube channels are Erica Johnston, Nikol Johnson and Miranda Parker. Their tutorials and advice are priceless! All these platforms and sources of support offer more than just hair advice.
We interact, share experiences, laugh together, encourage and empower each other. I have connected with so many ladies, and I’m honored to call them my friends: Michele, Tina, Karen, Leanne, Sherry, Lashawnda and Ondine… the list goes on and on! We are proud to belong to this community of amazing women who just accept themselves and each other, just as we are! We get excited just to see each other embrace our true selves; we have built bonds that I never thought would be possible in the virtual world! And, this was the basis to deciding to bring the virtual silver community into the real world and create a convention: Silvercon!
There is a strong movement that is beginning to take shape! Women are bucking limiting beauty standards, and creating our own idea of what beauty really is.
My business partner, Karen Rich, and I are the Co-Founders of Silver Sisters International, which is an affinity group that brings together women who have the desire to ditch the dye and set their silver strands free. We started on Instagram 7 months ago, and we already have almost 8K followers.
Karen and I first decided to start this endeavor as an Instagram page. But, then we wondered how we could take this virtual experience and bring it into the real world, so we decided to create a business. A business with endless ideas of how we can support other women on this journey of truly living our authentic selves.
Our first step was to create a convention, #SILVERCON, that will be happening in July of 2020 in L.A. The goal of #SILVERCON is to create a space for people who have either already transitioned to silver, or are just thinking about ditching the dye. We want all of these people to feel supported, educated, and empowered. And, we want to finally hug and celebrate each other!
Thank you for reading my story. If you have the same ideas about feminine beauty and want to join our community of like-minded women, visit our community of silver sisters (www.silversistersinternational.com) and follow us on Instagram.