A viral video called ‘Be That Person’ prompts women not to buy into the notion of anti-aging, or the idea that gray hair is somehow less beautiful than any other color.
Aging: it’s the natural progression of this thing called life. So why are we always judging each other about it? Why is it that we care so much about winkles and gray hair?
I thought about this a lot this week, after visiting Rachel Farnsworth’s Stay at Home Chef food blog, where a commenter wrote to the chef to say that she should dye her hair because her gray strands made her look like an “old hag.” But, if you’ve ever read her blog, you’d know that Rachel isn’t one to let a comment like that just sit there.
MORE TO READ: Learning to love my gray hair—in my 20s
Rachel’s first reply to the comment was a simple and thoughtful defense, “Growing older is not something to be ashamed of. It’s not something we should be forced to hide and cover up.”
But then she also filmed a video response. In the Facebook video, Rachel says, “My husband likes my grey hair and has asked that I don’t dye it because he wants us to grow old together. How cute is that? For me, having gray hair means I’m still alive. A lot of people don’t have the privilege to ever live to be old.” Her honesty and passion clearly struck a chord, and people shared it quickly: at the time of this article being posted, the video has been viewed over 12 million times (and shared over 200,000 times).
Watching the video myself, I realized that I feel much the same way Rachel does about getting older and turning gray. In fact, I cringe every time I hear the phrase “anti-aging.” The words hint at denial and desperation—and neither one of those qualities make for an attractive, confident woman.
Why shun age when, as Rachel says, our years on this planet are a privilege? Often we forget about the fragility of life, and that every passing year is a little miracle. But I have been reminded of that fact first hand. Since surviving a car wreck in college, I’ve suffered chronic pain and headaches, and I underwent neck surgery in 2012. However, one day as I was whining about the wreck’s after-effects, I heard God whisper to my spirit, “I let you live.” Convicting and true.
MORE TO READ: 7 lessons on aging gracefully from around the world
So, yes. I’m thankful not for the pain, but for the fact that I’m alive. I’ve been here, on this beautiful planet, for 20-plus years. I get to wake up in the morning and drink coffee, listen to the birds sing, and read my Bible. I’m able to walk without a cane despite my accident. I can stretch, swim, walk, and dance.
I’m still here.
And if you’re reading this, you are too.
Isn’t that knowledge—that we are living life—so much more important than whether or not we have a few grays while we’re doing it? How I wish women would stop trying to shame ourselves and each another for the natural ways our bodies change as we grow older! Why can’t we be “pro-aging” instead of “anti-aging”?
I’m not saying we need to throw our hands up in surrender. On the contrary, we should try to take care of ourselves so we can enjoy longer life. It’s good stewardship of what God has given to eat healthy foods, splurge only in moderation, and get regular exercise. In the end of the day, I would much rather age gracefully and in good health, than pretend I have no wrinkles or grays at all.
MORE TO READ: 100 life lessons from a 100-year-old
So I am advocating for a change in attitude. A few years ago, I was commissioned to write a book on growing old with humor and grace. During the project, I interviewed 40 women over 40—and learned a great deal. All the women who had joyful spirits shared a common trait: gratitude. They felt thankful for their blessings, and they viewed their problems through a big-picture perspective. Like Rachel, they knew life is too short to complain about or criticize themselves–or others.
I want to be like them when I “grow up.” For now, I’m following Rachel into the #grayhairdontcare movement.
Won’t you join us?
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