Recently there has been a huge surge of bloggers and writers advocating going grey. And it has inspired many women to ditch the hair dye, and show off their natural silver hair.
But whilst, in theory, this is great progress towards ending ageism in society, and empowering women to embrace and celebrate their age, there's a risk that we could end up going towards another extreme: shaming those who don't want to show off their grey.
Because ending ageism in society isn't about defining the new 'right' way to age - it's about treating everyone equally so that we feel confident to make our own choices on ageing, whatever they are.
If we start suggesting that you have to go grey to be seen as embracing your age, then it's the same as suggesting a woman can't be a feminist just because she decides to become a stay at home mum. Or criticising women for having plastic surgery. The only time these choices are 'wrong' is when the person making them has felt pressured into them, or had no other choice. But if that is what they wanted, then that's their prerogative.
I started dying my hair at 18 - and not for the right reasons. Having 'very dark blonde' hair, in my teens I overheard someone describing it as 's**t coloured'. That comment particularly stung and stayed with me for some time. And my (now ex) boyfriend at the time always 'joked' how much he wished it was lighter. So, as soon as I could, I started dying it a lighter blonde.
Then a year and a half ago I developed a severe allergy to PPD (a chemical in most hair dyes). Panic swept over me at the thought of having to go back to my natural hair colour. "S**t coloured" was ringing in my ears. But that's when I realised my relationship with hair dye wasn't a healthy one: it was giving me more confidence, but only because it satisfied what others wanted to see, not because it was necessarily how I wanted to look.
Top: Me with blonde hair. Bottom: Me with not-so-blonde hair (or a tan..)
I do still dye my hair (with a dye that doesn't include PPD) but the experience made me reevaluate why I was getting my hair dyed. I decided I didn't want to be influenced by others anymore and would only allow myself to continue to do it if I preferred it. After looking back through photos of my natural hair, I decided, for now, I do. But I'm not so bothered anymore when people can see my roots. And at some point, when I fancy a change, I'll go back to my natural colour.
It's the same as Jill who shared her story with us over on Your Blog - how, after battling skin cancer, she decided no longer to let hair dye chemicals touch her skin and instead let the dye grow out. Not because someone told her to, but because that's what made her feel most comfortable. Now that's what I call empowering.
So it doesn't matter if you do or don't dye your hair; you can still be pro-age and celebrating the best version of yourself today either way. It just shouldn't be because you feel ashamed to show off your natural hair colour, or because you feel that you should. Because, in the same way that it's fine to dye or not dye your hair at 20 or 30, it's equally fine to at 40, 50, 60 or 70+. Whatever your choice, just make sure you've done it for you.