Going Gray Should No Longer Be Taboo—Hear Me Out

I began my natural hair journey in the absence of a “natural hair movement.” In 1998, there were no blogs or vlogs about how to care for natural hair. I would not read my first book on the topic until 2004. I shaved off my hair and learned to care for it without a chemical relaxer by trial and error. Long before you could buy natural haircare products for black women in discount chains, I had to purchase my haircare products online.

Sistas would openly admire my hair but admit they would never go natural. I would only see other black women with natural hair when I traveled to Oakland or Harlem. One day, I was approached to do a photo shoot because natural hairstyles were rarely represented in black hair magazines. Those photos later appeared in Hype Hair, Sophisticate's Black Hair Styles and Care Guide, and other magazines. Times have changed, and natural black hairstyles are trendy again.

After 20 years of coloring my hair, I shaved it all off recently to go gray. Now, I am encountering a new form of resistance. Women have strong opinions about my decision not to dye my hair. There is no middle ground. Those who proclaim to love it call me brave. Those who hate it have visceral reactions. “I will never go gray!” several women have declared, as if I were a proxy sent to beckon them to the silver side. My hair a harsh reminder they too are aging.

While embracing our natural hair texture has gained popularity and is viewed as a celebratory act of self-acceptance and a rejection of Euro-American beauty standards—that does not extend to allowing our hair to go gray.