The women of West Hartford share how they joined the “money revolution” and allowed their hair to turn gray.
By Tracey Weiss
It’s time to ditch the dye and embrace the gray!
All over the world, women are letting their natural hair color grow and ignoring the societal stigma that accompanies graying. It can be stimulating and fun, but it is also a long and frustrating process. Either way, it’s a journey, and one that has a lot of support.
Here in town, women enjoy the dye-free lifestyle.
“It’s very liberating,” said Beth Bolton. “It’s one less thing we have to do as women to keep up appearances to others. I just wanted to make my life easier.
Bolton started his transition to gray a year ago. She’s two-thirds gray now and opted for help from her stylist, who added highlights to her dyed blonde hair to compensate for the transition, “so there was no ‘bowl cut’ line.”
Coloring her hair “was just more pressure on me,” she said. “I was sick of spending money.”
Kimberlea Chabot decided to go gray three years ago. “It was time to let go,” she said. “Gray hair is your wisdom shining through. Why don’t I honor it?
“The more I let go, the more confident I started to become,” she added. “It’s like a freedom for me. I really appreciate it now.
For many women, being at home during the pandemic was a good excuse to start the process of growing their hair. Proof of this is posted daily on the popular “Silver Revolution” Facebook group. Founded by Jonie Peck, the three-year group has more than 20,000 members from all over the world, who find humor and social media friends to share their stories with. Most important, however, is the amount of support and encouragement women give themselves through comment and photo responses.
Why are women suddenly making this change? According to Peck, there are several different explanations.
“For some it is for health reasons, to save time or money or (they) are tired of chasing their roots,” she said. “Plus, people question their beliefs about social norms and silver hair that makes us look older. We are all getting old and what is wrong? It is time to start setting the best example for our younger generations.
“With the COVID-19 closures, we have had a huge influx of new members who have been forced not to visit their colourist. Some clung to it, others went back to coloring, which is good! Our group is never ashamed to come back to coloring. For some it takes a few turns – growing up a few months, then coloring again, etc. We have a lot of members who just love to watch and learn and this is highly encouraged!
Town resident Barbara Lerner decided to stop coloring her hair four years ago. “I was sick of dying,” she said. “Under this color you are never sure what your hair color is, but I thought if I hated it I could color it again,” she said.
At the time, she was executive director of the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce. The whole process took 18 months, she said. “He was white on top, then blond to brown. People thought I did it on purpose. It was one of the best things I have ever done. And so easy. He entered beautifully.
“I love it. I get compliments all the time. And I’m saving $ 70 every three weeks to get chemicals on my head, which isn’t a good thing.
Peck gives some advice for women who are halfway through their hair growth and are not sure they can continue.
“Making the decision to change our outlook and embrace our natural hair color is the first thing to do,” she said. “However, if the members sit down and take a step back and decide it’s not for them, that’s fine. We encourage them to hang on, perhaps with the help of an expert colorist, headbands, wraps, root spray color, or hats. But again, there’s no shame in coloring and possibly starting over. This is a personal choice for each individual and there are many ways to make the transition easier. Some go for the cold turkey and grow their hair out, others get a pixie cut or a highlight.
“For some, the idea of showing off the skunk line or colored calico hair is horrible and they want the help of a good colourist. Some people embrace and are proud of their new virgin hair.
“A support group is vital, whether it’s on Silver Revolution or another Facebook group, a blog, or on Pinterest or Instagram. There is so much support information out there! “
Chabot also appreciated the transition. “It’s interesting when you go through the transition. A hairdresser came to me and said, “I can fix this for you.” And it’s fun, because it’s a mystery underneath (the color). The process took a lot longer than I expected. I had really long hair. I let it grow and then I cut it into a square. It took me a full year.
Peck has a few tips for those in the midst of their growth.
“At the very beginning of my trip, at a social reception, a 70-year-old man approached me and pointed at my head and stopped before speaking. “I like brown better,” and pointed her finger at the brown lower half of my head. I thought of a lot of things I could say to her after the fact. Now I am so much stronger. I would have had the perfect answer. He doesn’t have to be harsh or mean. Just based on facts with a smile, “I’m curious why you think you can comment on my hair like that?” Take a break and wait.
“It’s very disheartening to read posts from members about friends and families, especially husbands, making mean hair color comments! Husbands who don’t support seem to be a hot topic with sometimes record comments and encouragement under the posts. It’s all about empowerment.
Lerner also has some great advice: “Have lower expectations of what this will look like. Everyone is a little different. So whatever it is, kiss it. Don’t be intimidated when you grow it. Consider it a great conversation piece.
A version of this story first appeared in the June 2021 issue of West Hartford LIFE.
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