By Rebecca Drew
AFTER HER hair turned silver ‘overnight’ at the age of TWENTY-ONE, this woman became obsessed with dying it every fortnight to banish the grey and even dyed it hours before giving birth out of fear of people seeing her silver strands – but says having children made her embrace her natural colour and now at almost FORTY-FOUR feels sexier than ever.
Neuroscientist and author, Sara Eisenman (43) from Sedona, Arizona, USA, was left feeling mortified when she looked in the mirror at 21 and saw that her hair had started to turn grey in what seemed like overnight.
At a time when she felt she was supposed to be in her prime, Sara took her changing hair colour as a negative sign of ageing and immediately started to hide her silver locks with box dyes every two weeks, afraid of anyone seeing her new natural colour. She even prioritised dying her hair just hours before giving birth to her son, Abe (8) so that when people visited them, they wouldn’t see any tell-tale signs of ageing.
Now a mum of two, after having her daughter Naomi (11) previously, Sara started to change her mindset towards her box dyes and image, realising that there were more important things in life than whether she had freshly dyed hair or not.
At 37 after 15-years of colouring her hair at home, Sara ditched the dye and started to view her silver hair as a ‘crown’ and found that she felt completely liberated and reborn.
Sara’s husband, Hanan (45) fully supported her decision to embrace her natural beauty but when she confided in her friends, she was told that she would look aged and like a witch but Sara proved them all wrong and found that her natural colour had a vibrancy and sparkle that dyes didn’t.
Sara will turn 44 in September and instead of feeling as though she is in decline as she gets older, she has more energy than ever before, looks and feels the best she has done in her life and she says it’s all thanks to embracing her natural silver hair.
“My hair turned almost entirely silver, literally overnight, at the age of 21. I went to the mirror one day to find that silver hair was emerging from the roots all over my head,” said Sara.
“It was seen by me as a startling marker of ageing at a time when I was supposed to be in the height of youth.
“To disguise this evidence I took to colouring my hair very aggressively every two weeks, with a slew of other products – powders, hair crayons, etc. – to disguise the roots in between dying. I could not afford to go to a salon so I would use cheap box dye and undertook this messy process at home as frequently as possible to hide what was happening to me, of which my hair was a glaring symbol.
“My shame was to the point that I would avoid people for fear of my roots showing. I even had my hair coloured hours before I knew I’d be going into labour with my son, so that everyone who came to see the new baby would also see a new mama with freshly dyed black hair and no tell-tale roots.
“My life changed with my two small children who needed me constantly in the early years, as all kids need their parents, and it made colouring my hair seem so much less important. I suddenly began to ‘forget myself’ – in this case in the best way possible – and turn all my attention towards a much bigger picture than my grey roots.
“At 37, after more than 15 years of colouring every two weeks, I could no longer remain a slave to the box of dye – other considerations were simply too important.
“I began to have some potent realisations: one, that my shame regarding my hair was connected to whole other realms of hiding and shame within, based in social indoctrination, and secondly that the emergence of my silver hair was a symbol, a crown of sorts, that marked a total release of said shame and radical willingness to fully own all that I am and thereby free myself both for my own liberation and even more so – that of my children.
“At that time I was still trying to ‘fit in’ to myriad social structures – extended family, the clique of mums at my kids’ school – that I knew would be kerfuffled by my blatant silver roots and what was bound to be a very awkward transition from fully dyed black hair, to blazing silver. When I confided my decision to friends, I was told how much it would age me, and that I would look like a ‘witch’.
“Yet I knew very steadfastly in my heart that these stereotypes would prove completely incorrect, and I never touched a bottle of dye again.
“I also used this as an opportunity for a radical total self-rebirth, which manifested in myriad ways. First, I started wearing the clothing I always wanted to wear, in new colour palates, playing with new makeup shades, using all manner of scarfs, headbands and messy updos to dance with the line of demarcation between old and new ‘me’.
“Thus while I found myself shunned by some of the snobby moms and other judgmental people in my life during more transition, I was coming more alive and having more FUN than ever.
“And just as my heart knew, the silver hair actually turned out to look better than the dye. The silver hair had a reflective, brilliant almost mirror like quality to it. It would reflect the sunsets on the beach or the pure desert light, and it would sparkle. Very few people know that silver hair actually has a natural brilliance and magic to it, that is only dulled and deadened with dye. It was an amazing experience.”
When Sara leaves the house she is met with praise from other women who thank her for embracing her natural hair colour and for breaking the stigma surrounding grey hair.
Although not everyone understands her decision to keep it natural, she doesn’t care as she is the happiest she has ever been since throwing away the dye.
“I feel like my hair is a symbol of natural beauty and freedom, and I’m extremely grateful to play any role I can in helping women discover how amazing they truly are, how free and fun life can be, and how we can find sisterhood and community in it all,” she said.
“I am acutely aware that my hair challenges a lot of people. I get myriad compliments every time I leave the house; also occasional sideways glances, blatant stares, people wanting to touch my hair in awe, and more. And I also feel that not perhaps everyone likes it, or ‘understands’ it, or wants to do this themselves, and the best part is that it doesn’t matter what other people think at all because I am free.
“Overwhelmingly, the response is extremely, powerfully positive. I literally feel like I am liberation walking around in human form, and my hair is a crown on my head that speaks to who I am and the work I’ve done to become myself. I see so many other women lighting up in response to that energy and it’s such a breath of fresh air and a celebration. Life is essentially a great deal of fun for me these days, because of all this.
“As I approach 44 and am at the point in life where I’m supposed to be ‘declining’ due to middle age, I find myself looking, feeling, and being better than ever. I am living my dreams. I have published three books – including one called Splendor: The Nazarite Method to (Re)growing Long, Strong, Healthy, Holy Hair, all about my journey with silver hair and hair growth – and am writing more.
“I am hiking daily and now beginning to ride horses for the first time in my life. I have energy and stamina I could not begin to muster at 20-something. I have healed and released the trauma of my upbringing and am raising my kids in a way that is truly whole and free. All of this began at the very moment that I decided to stop dying my hair.
“My silver hair is not aging, and never was. It was – all along – merely a symbol of my rebirth. Imagine that I spent 15 years dutifully pouring expensive poisons on my head – terrified of who I really was – all to disguise something that was truly a gift not only to myself but many others.”
Sara believes that there is a consensus that menopausal women are invisible in society and explained how she now feels sexier than ever before thanks to her beautiful hair.
“It is also about refusing to become invisible in a world that treats older women or those marked as ‘ageing’ as such. I actually had someone recently tell me that post-menopausal women are ‘invisible’ in our society – when really they should be the most visible of all,” she said.
“The empowered, embodied, confident, authentic, free and wise elder woman is the cornerstone of a healthy society. More than ever, our society is in dire need of these embodied powerhouse women, for they hold the wisdom of the way forward.
“Once a woman knows her true power in this way, it changes everything. I for one refuse to become invisible not only at 44, but at 88, should I be blessed to live so long.
“To sum, there is literally no downside that I have experienced in the decision to embrace my natural silver hair. There is nothing to lose – except society’s judgments and a few friends who weren’t, really – and everything to gain: freedom, daring, a whole new relationship with one’s own beauty and being, increased health and confidence, and last but not least being able to do something good for the Earth by not contributing to the collective toxic chemical burden.
“In embracing my silver hair, I feel more alive, more beautiful and sexier than ever in my mid-40s.
“My embodied philosophy is that, through every single stage of life, we don’t necessarily ‘age’ so much as we have the opportunity to continuously grow.
“Embracing this is what it means to be truly ageless.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/saraissilver and Splendor: The Nazarite Method to Re(growing) Long, Strong, Healthy, Holy Hair