Silver Hair & Yarn

Listening to NPR this morning, Thor and I heard an interview with photographer Vicki Topaz about her exhibit Silver: A State of Mind.

I started going silver when I was 30 and knew – based on my father’s experience – that my hair would soon be majorily silver. I immediately started dying my hair and did so for many years. (According to the NPR interview this morning, 75% of American women color their hair!)

Then one day in a yarn store I met beautiful older lady (probably in her early 70s) with gorgeous white hair wearing a sweater she had knit out of a yarn by Mountain Mohair the color of a bright raspberry. I thought to myself, “That color is amazing! I wish I could wear it.”

It started me thinking:
* That color looks so great on her in large part because of her white hair.
* She’s an older lady with a head of white hair and is beautiful.
* So why am I dying my hair?!

I stopped dying my hair and soon my hair was completely silver and over time discovered many benefits. Immediately, of course, it was healthier for my hair, body and the environment to NOT color my hair. But I also realized I could sort of change myself. My stylist cut my hair in a short, rather spiky style, and lo & behold, I was regularly stopped by women on the streets or while on busses who wanted to know who cut and DYED my hair! I also started wearing different colors – a lot more brightly colored jackets, shirts and scarves – and in colors I wouldn’t have worn before (e.g., fuscia, magenta, hot pink, bright blue, lime green).

In addition, I was a professional woman in a male-defined and male-dominated field. In those such groups/fields, younger women are frequently given attention because they are young and pretty, leaving them wondering if it’s their face or their contributions that are garnering the attention. (Been there.) But with my shock of silver hair and, for instance, my “arty” jacket (designed and knit or woven by me), adorned with a beautiful jewelry purchased from an Etsy artist, and “serious” (aka work) black slacks, shoes, with a “serious” black briefcase – an audience immediately gives me their attention, and I think it is, in large part, because of the silver hair. I look like a “wise woman” – you know, the kind who, a couple of hundred years ago would have been burned at the stake. So I guess it’s either respect or fear I see in their faces. 🙂

And Mountain Mohair? Yup, I can now wear its Pink Pink – and do so with glee!

Do you color your hair?


About sweatyknitter

Fiber art devotee, author, and amateur artisan bread baker.
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5 Responses to Silver Hair & Yarn

  1. I dyed my hair for many years starting in my early 30s. Then one day I saw an older lady (70s-80s) with bright silver-white hair wearing a raspberry colored mohair-wool sweater. She looked so great in that color – in no small part because of her hair! And I thought, “Wow, she looks so beautiful with that hair!” That was followed by “Wait, my hair is that color!” And with all silver hair you will discover you can wear different colors differently! For instance, my eyes are light blue, and when I wear bright blue sweaters, my eyes “pop.” I can also wear bright red, a color couldn’t wear before. So there are some fun benefits too. 🙂


  2. mz jenny lee says:

    I’ve had gray hairs since I was a teen—but with my thick black hair, they were hard to see. The instant I found one, I’d pluck it out like a hated weed. I’m now in my mid 30’s and there are too many white hairs to pluck– I’ve always been kind of “granola” (i.e. vegetarian, environmentalist, rarely wear makeup, never permed or dyed my hair), so I never planned to dye my hair, but seeing all these white hairs lately has got me questioning myself. Reading your post helped strengthened my resolve, though–thanks :)! Korea is *extremely* image conscious, and it is EXTREMELY rare to see white hair on females (grannies here will dye the living daylights out of their hair, and it makes their hair as scruffy as Brillo pads!). But a few weeks ago I saw a granny with long white hair, and my first reaction was, “That’s awesome!” So I hope I’m that granny one day :)!


  3. jenyjenny says:

    Yes, I have been dyeing for quite a few years now. I think that I am going to go natural, then when those wiry gray strands start to grow out I can’t stand it and re-color. I know that I look better in color rather than dreary grayscale. I know some women who look vibrant, sparkling in silver and gray, but I look like a tired and old faded copy of my former self, so I keep coloring for now.


  4. Curls & Q says:

    Yes, I color my hair! I don’t have beautiful silver hair, and it’s still 1/12 and 1/2 dishwater color. I envy those of you with gorgeous silver hair! Love the Pink pink!


  5. I have been a mix of grey and blond for a long time, and happy with it. A few years ago I went blue/black which I loved, but the upkeep of roots was a nightmare, and I hated the way my hair felt. So now I am back to grey, but for fun I put pink, purple or blue tips. They funny thing is how many people think the white and the extra colour are both fake! And living in Chile the white really stands out. It is very hard for Chilean women to go white, they use a lot of hair dye here. It is shame.

    I think because I am a spinner I love to see dark hair with greys throughout, reminds me of a nice wool, makes me want to touch it…okay I know, a bit weird, blame it on my fibre addiction! 🙂


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