If you’re part of the going gray club, this post is FOR YOU. Because we’ve all been there—you’re feeling sexy, confident and gorg, and then, out of nowhere, someone bursts your bubble with a rude comment about your gray hair. This is how you deal, with responses sourced from The Gray Book community.
By: Lisa Fennessy
Here I was, adorning a pink jonny with no bra, scrolling social, waiting for my name to be called for my follow-up mammogram when the woman’s phone next to me blasted some ad out of nowhere. Startled, I looked up just in time to catch her casually roll her eyes as if to say *out of all the things in my life that have to deal with or manage or get embarrassed about…I’m not going to let this be one of them* and I rolled my eyes right back sending her *happens to the best of us* vibes.
Then, for a second time, she broke the silence saying, “You are too young for gray hair!”
And I’m not even kidding. I was SO EXCITED. Not because she meant it as a compliment. Not because I took it as a compliment. But because I was ready for it. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
RELATED: 5 going gray DON’TS.
My gray hair story + what rude comments I heard while going gray
I stopped dying my hair 5 years ago, so by now I’m pretty used to that #grayhair life. And I’ve gotten a lot of encouragement along the way. Strangers will stop me in the street, moms will inquire in the library…one guy even yelled across Peachtree Road from his convertible, “I love it!” (looking at me but pointing at his own head).
There were only a few times at the beginning (and I can remember them EXACTLY) that people went rogue. I had one family member tell me after the fact, “I didn’t think it was going to look good.” And one reader, when I took a “Should I?” poll on IG, came flat out and said, “DON’T DO IT.”
The fact is, if you are going gray you will probably encounter some sort of rude comment at some point along the way. Some of the most popular ones I hear women mention are:
- “It will make you look older.”
- “I’ll pay for your salon appointment!”
- “Don’t do it.”
- “You are too young to go gray.”
- “Why would you want to do this?”
And these comments sting. I only had two, but both of those put a crap ton of doubt in my head. However, the irony is that most of the time these comments come from a place of actually wanting to help.
I remember when my mom decided to stop dying her hair. I was in her kitchen and I looked right at her and said, “Don’t do it.” I WAS THAT PERSON.
But, I actually thought I was enlightening her. Helping her. Telling her something she didn’t know. Like, I really expected her to turn around and be like, “Oh, right! Thanks for telling me. I lost my mind for a minute but thanks to you, I’m back.”
Here’s the thing with the rude comments: Sometimes people are actually just being rude and that’s on them. BUT most of the time I find that people really do mean well.
How to reframe people’s comments about your gray hair
So, I didn’t skip a beat hearing the woman sitting across from me in the doctor’s office, and replied, “Apparently not!” with a smile. And guess what—the conversation pivoted.
“Wait, that’s real?!” she said. “I thought you were one of those younger women who, ya know…” And I’m like “NOPE!” And she literally concluded, “Well, it’s beautiful. Enjoy it and have fun!” And we both went off on our merry mammogram ways.
BUT I invited this outcome. If I allowed myself to be offended and followed up with a dirty look or ignored her or told her to get a life, it would have been over. My day would have been ruined. I would have replayed that encounter in my head on a constant loop wondering who the hell people think they are and why does society suck so much.
Instead, I chose to engage in an unassuming way and it provided a space for her true intentions to unfold.
I think a couple things really helped this be a positive experience. First, I chose not to be offended. It’s hard to give people the benefit of the doubt but I did and a beautiful interaction ensued.
Second, I didn’t assume the worst in this woman. Did I feel uncomfortable? YES! But I gave it a beat to allow it to tease itself out instead of storming away assuming the worst.
Third, I was confident in my own skin (and my own gray hair) which just takes time. This will come.
And last, the most intriguing thing also happens to be an X factor.
I happened to be writing this article at the time and I LEGIT had just asked 14 THOUSAND women how they would respond to these kind of rude comments, so I had hundreds of responses at the tip of my tongue and it really made a difference! I was actually excited to respond. So in that vein, I want to help prep you for the next time you encounter A COMMENT.
If you can find it in yourself (I know this is hard but you can do it) to not jump immediately to the defensive and to give someone a chance to explore their comment with a thought provoking prompt (from you!)…we may be able to change our experiences making our going gray journey an all around more positive one.
Straight from TOG’s private, inspirational going gray Facebook community, The Gray Book, we asked real women who are going gray themselves to respond to some of the most common rude gray hair comments. This is what they had to say (and I’m bookmarking this for next time I need it myself!).
RELATED: The best purple shampoo for gray hair.
How to respond to: “It will make you look older.”
1. “Growing old is a privilege not all of us get to enjoy!”
2. “It will make me look like me!”
3. “I am older!”
4. “I am older, wiser and happier. I don’t want to go back to my younger years. I love that I am given the chance to grow older. Not everyone is given that chance.”
5. “Who do we think we’re fooling?”
6. “What’s so wrong with looking older? And why doesn’t anyone express the same concerns for men looking older?”
7. “Older than what?”
8. “No darling; it will be fabulous like the rest of me!”
9. “Actually I look younger because my natural hair color makes my complexion glow, while dyed hair looks fake against my face. Mother Nature knows what she’s doing.”
10. “And wiser.😜”
11. “Perhaps in your eyes, but in mine (and others), more natural and beautiful.”
12. “I feel like it makes me look younger, not older!”
13. “Better to be true to myself than to try to look like someone who is trying too hard and not fooling anyone but myself.”
14. “It’s not the color of the hair that counts, it’s the shine in the eyes, and the confidence.”
15. “I am older. You are older. We are all older. Let’s not be thirsty for what has passed.”
16. “Are you saying a person with a wrinkly face, neck, chest and hands magically looks younger, because they are sporting an unnatural hair color with a skunk line? Interesting.”
17. “Nothing or no one *makes* me do anything.” (And sashay away.)
18. “Older than who? This is what my age looks like!”
19. “Well, hair color or lack of it isn’t the only thing that makes us look older.” (Then wink at them.)
20. “Well, I’m not a teenager!”
21. “Jealousy will get you nowhere…”
22. “What is the alternative? NOT AGING and dying young? I’d rather age.”
23. “I know, isn’t it great?! That’s the best part.”
I have 2 adult children and 2 teenagers. I’m supposed to look like I’m in my 40s. I suppose I might say “Well, you’re welcome. You’re welcome for making older look so dang good!” 😆
24. “And why do you care?” (Unless it’s your significant other lol!)
25. “Older (and better) like fine wine! 💁🏻♀️😂”
26. “I am older.” Some people don’t get to get older. We talk about it like it’s a bad thing, but I’m grateful to be alive.
RELATED: Makeup tips for going gray.
How to respond to: “Why would you do this?”
27. “It looks better!” (Which is true for most of us.)
28. “Why not embrace my natural God given hair color?”
29. “Because I’m inclined to be comfortable and natural with myself. Besides, the path of least resistance is healthier and more becoming.”
30. “Because I don’t need to pretend I’m something I’m not…I’m a mature woman and proud of it.”
31. “Because I want healthy hair that doesn’t break due to over processing and because I’m a bad @$$ and I can rock my grays and look good.”
32. “You do what you want. I’ll do what I want…with my hair and everything else.”
33. “Because I am sick and tired of being a slave to a half inch of roots!”
34. “Because I want to!”
35. “Because the silver is way cool! I’m going to go into my second half of life living like a rockstar.”
36. “To teach my children that beauty comes at all ages. They should not be afraid to age.”
37. “Because I set my own beauty standard!”
38. “Honestly, my dream of old age is to have long gray Granny Clampet hair (braided, of course) and I would sit on my back porch with my varmit gun with my husband and shoot varmints in the woods.”
39. “I just decided that going natural was something I wanted to do and I’m so happy I did. It’s not anything I can explain. It’s a personal choice. I hope that helps you.”
40. “Why do YOU want me NOT to?!”
41. “The gray is inevitable. It is the way I am supposed to look.”
42. “I wanted to see my natural color.”
43. “Interesting question, why do you ask?”
44. “Why am I eating well, exercising and taking care of my body and then putting toxic chemicals on my scalp? It just doesn’t add up!”
45. “Because I just don’t want to have my life revolve around my ‘hair day’ at the salon, spend all that money and then only look good for three weeks. It’s a vicious and expensive cycle.”
46. “I want my hair to look healthier, and not feel like straw from the constant color maintenance.”
47. “Because, as it turns out, my natural hair colour is way prettier than any dye job I ever had.”
48. “Why not? I am not afraid to show my age and be who I really am.”
49. “I’m trying to prevent hair loss. I hope getting dye-free will do the trick.”
The other day I saw a t-shirt that read, “I will not trade my authenticity for your approval.”
50. “Because I’m a silver fox in the making.”
51. A hairdresser asked me that question and I said, after 24 years of dying my hair, “I just want to see the real me.”
52. “Because I’m embracing authenticity in this and other areas of my life.”
53. “Because I want to teach my daughters and granddaughters that natural is beautiful.”
54. “Because the world is changing…I’m part of the silver revolution. It’s all about a new way of thinking about nature and natural beauty.”
55. “Because I had to tile and grout my bathroom brown, because I looked washed out, because if I scratched my scalp I got dry dye under my nails or with every breeze showed my true colour and I would die of embarrassment. Because I had a cupboard of box dye as needed to do this every three weeks. Most importantly because I wanted freedom.”
56. “When I was diagnosed with cancer last year at the age of 64, I started thinking that I haven’t seen my natural color completely grown out since I was 16. Now maybe I won’t have the luxury of getting older and seeing it later, so…”
I would sing 🎶 like Tony Bennett…“I’ve gotta be me, I’ve gotta be me!”
57. “It’s because I finally feel like I can and should just be me and I am really good with that. Age happens.”
58. “Because I want to show myself and others how fabulous, and smart, graying can be.”
RELATED: 10 ways to grow out gray hair.
How to respond to: “But you are too young to go gray.”
59. “I want to enjoy the beautiful, dynamic nature of my hair throughout my life, and yes, as I age. I deserve to see my natural beauty at all stages…and so do you.”
60. “I know! Thanks. [smile] But, silver is in so why not let it grow out naturally? [smile and change subject]”
61. “All these girls and younger women purposely dying their hair gray would disagree.”
62. “Well, I started to go gray at 18 so…letting it shine at 44 is not that bad, isn’t it!”
63. “Gray is the new blonde!”
64. “And too fabulous to hide it.”
65. “I like this color.”
66. “Please don’t let me make comments on your hair.”
67. “Have you been living under a rock? Grey is the rage. It’s about time too. Grey is gorgeous.”
68. “You’re never too young or too old to go gray!”
69. “Oh! I look younger as I go gray!”
70. “Well, apparently God didn’t think so.”
71. To quote Monte Walsh…”You have no idea how little I care.”
72. “Do you have a life rule book with you? Are you going to issue a citation?”
73. “It’s coming in naturally, so I think I’m just the right age!”
74. My 13 year old son said it best…”It may be starting to gray, but at least she combs hers and makes it look nice.” (while giving his friend and their unkempt mom some killer side eye…)
75. “I am embracing my authentic self. You should try it too.”
76. “Tell that to Mother Nature.”
77. “Grey hair symbolizes wisdom and I am blessed.”
78. “Age is irrelevant, my dear.”
79. “And you’re old enough to have better manners!”
80. “I want my silvers. I have earned them. I deserve them. Why should I wait?”
81. “Oh really? What else do you think? What should I do with my hair? And the haircut? Maybe some makeup advice?”
82. “Would you prefer me gray or bald?” (They all say gray).
83. “I love it this way!”
84. Whenever anyone asks or says something to me that I deem inappropriate, I just go “Oh, well isn’t that marvelous? Thanks.”
85. “Ever wonder what people looked like before hair color existed? Normal!”
86. “Thank you.”
87. “No, I’m not! I’m 60 this year. It’s about time I went naked!”
88. “Let’s start again, and this time I’d prefer you tell me that I look great.”
89. “You pronounced Silver Sparkle wrong.”
90. “Silver is for rock stars.”
91. “Apparently, my hair disagrees with you.”
92. “No, I am just too old to concern myself with random opinions.”
93. “I’ve spent over $16,000 coloring my hair. Just think what I could have done with that money!”
94. “Mother Nature is a bad-ass colorist…Don’t you think?”
95. “I’m mature, not old.”
*direct stare, never breaking eye contact or silence, while the commenting party squirms and backpedals*. <— Priceless
96. “Well, bless your heart.”
97. “First I’ll go grey, then I’ll go white—just like Gandalf.”
98. “Thank you darling, but I’m too wise not to go grey!”
99. “I got my first gray hairs around 12. So apparently the Lord thought otherwise.”
100. “I’m a leader, not a follower.”
101. “It’s not gray, it’s actually Arctic Blonde.”
What do YOU say when people comment on your gray hair?
“First I’ll go grey, then I’ll go white—just like Gandalf.”
“Thank you darling, but I’m too wise not to go grey!”
“I got my first gray hairs around 12. So apparently the Lord thought otherwise.”
“I’m a leader, not a follower.”
“It’s not gray, it’s actually Arctic Blonde.”
These are just a few comebacks to gray hair rude comments—read our 101 ways to respond here!
If you’ve ever been in a position where someone rudely commented on your gray hair, you’re not alone. Here are 101 comebacks to rude comments!