7 Reasons To Embrace Going Gray Because Those Strands Are A Marker Of A Life Lived

I've always felt that there are many reasons to be excited about going gray. I remember sitting on the floor of our white and blue tiled bathroom as a kid, my eyes owlishly fixed on my mom as she stood in front of the mirror, dyeing her hair black. I watched the dye occasionally splat onto the sink as she made her hair wet with color, filling the room with a harsh but not completely unpleasant smell. It was one of those mysterious womanly things I didn't understand but couldn't wait to do, like putting on lipstick before going to find my keys or fastening on earrings as I sat in my underwear in front of the mirror. I didn't know it at the time, but my momma — my confident, headstrong momma who never hid anything, ever — was doing it to hide her age.

As I got older and ditched that naivety that came with dolls and pink walls, I began to learn the reason why: Women aren't supposed to age. And even more confounding: Women do age, but they need to figure out a way to not let it show.

I've never understood why looking like you've lived a life (and lived it well enough to look like a little weathered) was something you'd want to disguise. Why would I want to cover up all those years I belly laughed at restaurants, ate watermelons on too-hot beaches, cried on the corner of my bed over something lost or won, and played into the late, un-respectable hours of weekend nights? Erasing these things seemed, to me, like wiping away your history.

In honor of that sentiment, below are seven reasons to embrace your grays, because they're not just another "flaw" in need of eradicating.

1. They'll Make You Stand Out

Whether you love to make a style statement or like to keep things simple in no makeup and jeans, silver strands will make you stand out one way or another. It's why the trend has been exploding since last spring and has been going strong among 20-somethings since: It's bold, eye catching, and completely different. Silver foxes get noticed and, better yet, are remembered because of their rareness, confidence, and pride in their years.

2. You Can Challenge Your Idea Of Beauty Standards

Ever since I was little, I associated gray hair with dyeing your hair. The second those silver wings started to creep around your temples, you were supposed to freak out, wrap a scarf around your head, and run to the nearest salon to dye the situation away. It goes hand in hand with lying about your age on hospital forms and buying Costco sized tubs of wrinkle cream.

To which I've always asked, why? When exactly did women decide that looking like they've actually lived life — with its messy ups and downs, years of mistakes, and punches-in-the-air triumphs — was something to be ashamed of rather than ridiculously proud of? At one point or another, women are going to have to change this dialogue. Look forward to grays so you can change your attitude towards your appearance and take pride in where you've been and how it molded you.

3. You Can Practice Your Confidence

Going against the norm will always be just a little bit scary. But the cool thing is that if you don't naturally have a large supply of confidence, you can learn it. It's a habit that needs to be formed: Fake it till you make it baby, and at one point you'll find yourself riding the bus or sitting bent over your work and you'll realize that you're no longer faking. You just are.

4. They'll Help You Become Comfortable With Change

Whether you like it or not, you're growing. As the years tick by, you'll be changing — sometimes in more obvious ways. Be it those little creases that look like laughs around your eyes or the way licks of silver are starting to mix in with your highlights, subtle changes give you the opportunity to ease yourself in gradually and get comfortable with the natural process of getting older.

5. You Have The Opportunity To Take A Stand

When you think of the word "makeover," chances are you think of something that needs to be fixed. Everyone has quirks that make them memorable and beautiful, but have been labeled "flaws" because they have too much character. Whether it's a smattering of happy freckles, a family bump on the bridge of your nose, unruly corkscrew hair, or silver licks starting to spread from your hairline, don't let yourself be convinced that different means ugly. It just means different.

6. You Have Evidence Of Your Hard Work

Some grays are genetic, but some are earned with long nights, too many cups of coffee, and worries that are pushed forward on the table toward a dream like chips on a stake. You should want to keep all the ripple effects from that kind of drive, though. They're a reminder that you're a human full of tenacity and a quiet strength, and how can anyone label that ugly?

7. You Can Inspire Someone

When you see someone embracing themselves fully, it affects you. Seeing that one woman with kinky streaks of silver hair shooting through her bangs and looking happy about it could be the last piece that falls into place and makes you wonder why you've been hiding your own quirks.

For every woman we see embracing herself with total joy and confidence, we question why we don't do the same. Being at ease in our natural selves can inspire others to be happy, and that, my friends, is a wonderful thing.