I also don’t dye my hair despite having gotten my first gray hair at 28. While it can be hard to tell that in some pictures, in person there is no doubt that a large percentage of my hairs have gone gray now at age 40. Part of the reason I don't dye my hair is due to chemical sensitivity: I wouldn’t be able to tolerate chemical hair coloring if I wanted to, and most of the more natural hair colorings still have some questionable ingredients in them, too. However, a large part of it has to do with my comfort with who I am. So my hair is graying. That’s life. It means I’m getting older, and I’ve earned every one of those gray hairs along the way! I actually like the way they look on me.
I really appreciate when people, especially celebrities, help spread the message that women should be happy with what they look like. Colbie Caillat’s recent song and accompanying video for “Try” are amazing examples of encouraging acceptance of one’s true self. The song correctly states, “Why should you care, what they think of you/ When you're all alone, by yourself/ Do you like you?” That is the fundamental truth. No amount of makeup will be able to change your self-esteem if you don’t love who you are.
I take issue, though, with an article by Elle magazine about this video. In the article, the author says that they talk to Caillat about “why all women hate the way they look in photographs” [original emphasis]. First of all, that’s not true. Many women may hate the way they look in photographs, but all women do not. Second, the photographer in me wants to advise that if people don’t like the way they look in photos, aside from working on their self-esteem, those people also need to hire a great photographer to get some professional shots taken of themselves to help them see how beautiful they can be even without Photoshopping. I agree that when I see crappy phone photos of myself taken from unflattering angles, I cringe. That’s not how I want to believe others physically see me. However, I’ve taken many self-portraits of myself that I love. A good photographer with the proper equipment can do wonders for photography fears!
Aside from the issues around photography, many men and women in our society need to reprogram their thoughts about beauty. Women (and all people, really) are beautiful in their natural state. They don’t need makeup or hair coloring. If they like wearing those things, then great. They should do what they enjoy. However, our society should not be dominated by a multi-billion dollar self-improvement industry that tries to convince women that they can feel better about themselves through products they purchase. True beauty and happiness don’t come from the cosmetics counter. They come from within.
© 2014 Green Heart Guidance