By Mala Mansukhani
We all are unique and the world needs more people to wake up to that truth. I believe that my unique identity asserted itself when I got my first strand of grey hair.
Many people view grey hair as a sign of getting old and an end to your youthful journey. In the desire to hold on to youth, you begin the practice of colouring your hair. In the beginning, it seems like an effortlessly clever idea to put on a youthful mask, but from my experience, it later feels like a burden: tiresome and endless. Every time you step out into this youth-obsessed world, you have to put on your ‘youth mask’.
There comes a point when the mask you wear begins to weigh on you. Why create a world where you can’t be yourself, where you struggle every day to look young and ‘perfect’?
If you have ever coloured your hair to conceal the grey, perhaps this idea will resonate with you. It was painful for me to go out to the salon every week to get my hair done until one day I decided to change my perception of what greying meant to me. I understood that one can look beautiful and youthful without all these artificial things too.
All of us need to dwell on our ideas of ageing and identify whether they are necessary for us or not.
Years ago, I stopped colouring my hair and decided to just let it go grey. When you step off the beaten track, it is difficult at first, but in the long-term, you are a winner. Initially, I had unorganized patches of grey hair and was not confident enough to carry my look.
Sometimes, it forced me to question my decision. It was definitely an awkward phase. I managed it by having my hair blow-dried and wearing interesting head gear such as hats, scarves, and sixties-style cool turbans.
Finally, there came a point where my greys were uniform and neat. Along the way, I realised that the process of accepting myself had also given strength to many others out there. By being me, I was also giving others the permission to do the same, saving our world from yet another layer of artificiality.
It’s a relief now to not have to run to salons to get my hair frantically coloured before trips or events or even a pandemic-size lockdown! Since the grey is uniformly spread out, even young girls ask me where I got my hair coloured from! They assume I have got my hair dyed silver – it’s a new trend I hear.
It is not important to certify yourself with signs of youth to adjust to the world. Nor is it mandatory to force people around you, especially older folks, to colour their locks to look young. Let us leave it to individual choice and perception.
The process has been liberating, to say the least, and I feel comfortable with this phase of my life. I decided to be myself and it freed my spirit from following someone else’s rules. I am enjoying being my authentic self. What will you decide?
Mala Mansukhani is the author of Grow Younger, a motivational speaker, a mother of three and grandmother of five