10 Women Of All Different Ages Get Refreshingly Real About Going Gray

We are living in a time whereinclusivity is king. Attitudestoward agingare changing, and self-expression comes in many forms ― includingelectively going gray.

And yet, our society continues to valueyouth and beauty.Ageismstill exists, and no celebrity opting to dye their hair gray is going to change that. 

So if we’re going to celebrate gray hair, we ought to celebrate the women who earned it. And if you ask them, there’s a lot to celebrate. 

A call out from HuffPost for women to talk about their gray hair generated hundreds of responses with a common theme ― a love and acceptance for going gray. 

In spite of that, many women, like the ones we spoke to for this story, have a complicated relationship with graying and the aging process in general. Some have fully embraced their hue, while others still lean on hair dye to cover it up. Read these 10 real stories below from women who started going gray as early as 16.

Makai, 41

"I started going gray technically when I was 16, and I was horrified. I started plucking them like crazy. I got regular highlights, and I never really noticed I had more gray hair until I was pregnant with my daughter. I kept dying and dying it and noticed it was coming so quickly -- I was dying my hair every two weeks. That's when I realized I needed to stop. I was spending a lot of money on my hair and it wasn't sticking. Now, I finally love it. I really do love it."

Samantha Feldman, 57

"I recently started to let my hair go gray after years of dying it because I wanted to embrace my aging. I've always embraced every age, every birthday, every decade, every step that I've gone through. I've never been afraid to age. My daughter has discouraged me from going gray because she feels it's going to make me look older than I am. But it's not about how I look, it's about how I feel. And I always feel young."

Gillian Sarjeant-Allen, 48

"I started going gray when I was 18 years old and was fully gray by 43. I spent a good five years dying my hair, I was insecure about it. It's the aging process -- we're trying to have our hair laid down, very sleek and youthful. Gray is not that. So I resisted it for a very long time. But coloring it became a chore and damaged the hair to some degree. A friend recommended embracing it, so in November 2017 I decided to start deliberately placing gray extensions in my hair so that I could start to transition. I'm easing my way into it but embracing it along the way. I get stopped in the street by people telling me how beautiful the hair is, and I'm excited for what it means for other women to just be comfortable in your skin and being beautiful regardless."

Davia Rabinoff-Goldman, 32

"I started going gray in high school. My dad also started going gray probably in high school, as well as my sister. My sister is four years older than I am and she had kept hers. I do everything she does, so I didn't care. She had set the precedent for me to just embrace it. People stop me all the time to ask me about it. A lot of people think I dye it this color."

Ann Lapin, 41

"They became most profound before I got pregnant with my son, which was after a miscarriage. I know we don't attribute gray to traumatic events, but I can timeline it that way. I think I was 31. It was a little bit surprising honestly, it seemed like kind of all of a sudden there were more. My husband really likes gray, so every once in a while I'll try it, but I usually dye it. I don't enjoy the way it looks. It's not who I think I am. There's a part of me that thinks if older hair came in, say, gold, maybe I'd go with that. But gray isn't working."

Patty Lang, 53

"When it first came in I was 18 and I colored it for years. Even when I was pregnant with my four kids I would dye my hair and would always think, 'Is this a good idea?' But I would do it anyway because it bothered me. I was an older mom, and people would come up to my daughter and I and say, 'Oh how nice, you're spending the day with your granddaughter.' That would freak me out.

In 2008, when I was 43, I had my first stroke. It became less important to have it colored. It put things in perspective. My father's mom had the exact same gray patch and I always thought it was so awesome to look at my Nanny and see her gray patch. I realized that this is my connection to her. People will often say how strong she was and determined, and I think especially since the second stroke that's exactly how I am. I'm not going to let any of this other stuff stop me. So I love my gray patch now."

Padmini Persaud, 48

"I love my black hair. As an Indian woman, our black hair is our glory, so when it goes, it's hard. My mom is all gray and is allergic to dye so for her to have to grow out all her hair, it's really hard for her. Still, I think embracing might be the way to go for me, even though my son doesn't like it. In his mind it means I'm getting old."

Susy Nason, 67

My family goes gray pretty early. I was in my late 30s when my preteen daughter first pointed mine out. I didn't start highlighting until I was in my 40s and now I haven't done that in about five years. I'm loving it. I'm an interfaith minister and I lean toward the goddess traditions. Goddess have three phases, and I'm now in the crone and sage phase. It's my badge of honor. I've arrived, I have the wisdom and look, I have the gray hair that goes with it.

Jess Hart, 30

"I started going gray when I was about 25. I ran up to my mother and she pulled it out. All the women in my family go gray super early. It's genetic. Most of the women dye their hair, but I want to be one of those weird hippie ladies with the long gray braid. I enjoy being in this time being gray because we are kind of in this time of body acceptance. I feel like being the age you are, and if going gray and getting old is OK, it's not a bad thing."

H. Fein, 52

"I started going gray at about 19. It was just a little streak, and it stayed that way for a long time until my 30s when it started going a little more. I actually loved it. My father had a thick head of wavy white hair that he loved, and I just felt like it was natural highlights. I never had a negative feeling about it. Now, I'm almost like a bartender. Women come up to me to show me their roots and tell me their sob stories."

This article originally appeared on HuffPost.