Sorry for the silence over the last couple of weeks – I went away on holiday and have been really busy with work and other stuff so I am a bit behind. Thanks for your patience!
Anyway. When I finally decided to go grey I did a lot of googling and Susan’s website www.thechangeguru.net was one of the first things I discovered. I watched all of her videos and felt a lot better about things. She has a very no-nonsense, non-patronising manner which I found very reassuring. She’s great. Susan is a life coach, NLP practitioner and Reiki practitioner. I thought it would be great to interview her, but never actually thought that she would have the time. But she did!!! Read this fantastic interview. Get inspired. Go and have an amazing day.
How old are you (if you don’t mind disclosing that!)? I’m 54 – I love saying my age.
When did you first start going grey? I started going grey probably when I was around 42. A hairdresser encouraged me to start covering up and because everyone I knew colored their hair, it seemed like the right thing to do. I never knew how much grey I had but every time a little regrowth showed, it looked very extreme and like something that needed to be dealt with immediately!
What made you decide to embrace your grey hair? I wanted to go grey purely as a beauty choice. I LOVED the look of it but it just seemed like something that no one did, especially here in Sydney, Australia. I really didn’t think much about it until I was online one day, and stumbled upon someone talking about ditching dye. That led me down a rabbit hole of discovering women who I could relate to rocking their grey. They were sexy, not dowdy and it blew my mind. The gorgeous model Cindy Joseph was definitely a tipping point for me. She wasn’t overly glammed up and was just comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt which is pretty much my uniform. When I saw her, it was like, “That’s it, I’m doing this thing!”.
Was it a difficult decision? Deciding to see what happened when I ditched dye was an instant, straight from the gut, decision. I was super excited and bounced it off my husband and adult kids, showing them pictures of women who were totally nailing the look and they were immediately on board. Having their support made me think that this was a pretty simple thing to do. Of course I was only just learning that I was in for an adventure that would teach me a lot about society pressure, fear and the ultimate necessity of self belief and love.
How did it work logistically? I decided to go cold turkey and I wanted to keep my hair long. While I was worried about what this regrowth would look like against my fried blonde hair, I was actually more concerned about the natural colored hair sprouting out in wires. My hair was so damaged and frizzy and the odd grey that did pop through before I covered it up was so coarse that the idea of having a head full of “that” worried me. While it was wirey at first, the texture of my hair completely changed after the six month mark and the wire problem really turned into a non issue.
How have people responded? I’ve never had anyone say anything negative about my color choice and that even includes a former hairdresser who initially was very against the idea of me doing it. He had to eventually admit that it looked cool. One thing that helped me so much is that my doubt never exceeded my confidence. Even during the wobbly moments, I knew I’d get through it and it would be okay.
Probably the most common thing that people who know I’ve written a book and have done YouTube videos on this topic say is “Your hair is barely grey”. It’s funny because only now is the grey really coming through but when I first was going through the transition, the natural color that was coming out of my head, in addition to the grey, was brown and dark blonde. It really boggled my mind why I spent thousands of dollars coloring my hair when I had such cool natural lowlights and highlights without doing a thing.
The most meaningful response though has absolutely gone beyond the hair. I’ve connected with so many incredible women because of this simple act of ditching dye and daring to see what’s underneath. I hear their stories of reinvention and going out of their comfort zone, and this includes so many women, like you, who are under 40. I just feel so hopeful for my daughters that the women ahead of them are standing up for themselves and stopping the fear madness that revolves around hair color.
How has having grey hair changed your makeup/wardrobe, if at all? I’m a minimalist and have been wearing updated versions of the same thing for years. Jeans, simple shirts, yoga pants, a little black dress when it’s called for. I focus more on having good body consciousness than my hair color although I have to admit, there’s something very thrilling about going out with a bunch of friends, dressing up and not having dyed hair. It feels very rebellious, like a tattoo.
What do you think that going grey means to women vs. men? This is such a good topic. I think when you look back on how we were all raised, many of us just saw men going grey and having an overall more acceptance of their bodies. For us, different story. We’ve always been aware that we’re supposed to cover up and conceal and generally hold it together no matter the cost so we could fit in and be valued. It’s incredibly difficult to separate these beliefs and the concepts of what we learned from what’s real. These beliefs do keep myths on grey hair going.
A great example of this is the idea that “Grey looks better and more distinguished on men than women”. I’ve never heard this from a man but have been told this many, many times by women. Perhaps this was true before women really started taking care of themselves regardless of their age but it’s just not true anymore. However, you must be willing to change your beliefs to start seeing this point of view.
As a change guru, what’s the most important piece of advice that you give to women who are thinking about taking the plunge and embracing their grey hair? Let’s be honest. Coloring our hair covers up a multitude of sins. Dyeing our hair can make us look better when we’re slacking off in taking care of ourselves. Dyeing our hair can make us think we look better when we’re not doing the mindset work to love and respect ourselves regardless of what we see in the mirror.
This means that if you’re going to take the plunge and you want to love the experience and the outcome, you must also take the plunge on taking care of yourself. Day in, day out. That means moving your body every day, figuring out who you are beyond the hair so you’re doing what you love and dealing with self doubt and harmful self talk. If you can do all this, you will look back and realize that taking the plunge and embracing your grey is one of the best choices you could make, simply because it made you lift your game.
If you feel you want to add anything else, please do! The one thing I want to add is that what you’re doing Alex, by getting a conversation going for young women through The Girl Gone Grey, is incredibly important work. The idea that a beauty ritual is so laden with fear is something that my generation and above have never really been able to completely call out. I really believe that it’s your generation who will stop the madness of women having to color their hair out of fear. It should be fun. We don’t freak out if our nails don’t have a color on them and if we want a change, we paint them. So it should be for hair color. I think we’ll all look back one day and think this desperation to cover grey was as nuts as being forced to wear corsets. I know through you sharing your message, you’ll inspire women to own their own unique beauty and that in itself can only lead to a better world.
For Susan’s website, click here.
For her YouTube videos (she has several on going grey among many other things), click here.
Her Instagram is here.
Her Facebook is here.
She’s given me a copy of her book, which you can buy on Amazon here. I look forward to reading it and letting you all know what I think!