Embracing Gray. Embracing Myself.


Let me introduce myself.  I’m “the girl with the gray hair”. That’s it. That is how usually people refer to me. I’m 41 years old and have been living with gray hair for the last 30.  And yes, I’m the one who never dyed her hair.

Nowadays, going gray is fashionable. It is the statement that fashion advisers use and recommend. It has become a symbol of chic rebelliousness and daring elegance. There is no day in the grocery store where I don’t get a compliment on my hair.

But it hasn’t always been like this. And it will not be like this forever. It is a fashion trend, and as such, volatile and fleeting, and it is important for me to speak about the “going gray effect”, without the glamour of this trendy season.

I started to have white hair at age 11. It got quite obvious at the age of 15. Right about when everything in us changes, and we least desire to be noticed. I survived the jokes (“Oh, Cruella Deville!”), the questions (“But, is it a disease?”), and all the hair that I pulled out (by those who expect some good luck in those special hair strands). It was never bullying, just the natural teenage curiosity, or at least, I always looked at it that way. I’ve never felt bad, just different. Perhaps it was the typical rebelliousness of my teen age that made me contradict normality, sticking to my difference. I did not dye my hair, I embraced the gray.

Unexpectedly, it was in adulthood that the pressure began. Perhaps for historical-cultural reasons, since Western society does not quite ennoble what is or looks old. Aging and the signs of it, have long been a focus of antipathy, and we got used to delay and hide aging. We live in a race against time. Against wrinkles, against sagging skin, and not less, against the dreaded white hair that denounces all the time we have already left behind.

In my early twenties I often heard opinions about how my hair was aging me, about the huge contrast between my young face and my oldie hair. At the hairdresser, all the options of hairstyles and haircuts were usually barely evaluated, the point was to soak me in tints.

Unfortunately, I always felt this difficulty in accepting the difference on the females side. By contrast, on the male side, I have always received encouragement and praise (thank you, Gentlemen.). How long will it take for us to see women supporting and empowering women, and stop fearing each other? That day, all the tints, creams and false youth elixirs will lose their place, to give way to real and confident women, just the way they are.

I did not dye my hair, I embraced the gray. And so it has been to this day. Currently, I do not refuse to dye it because I am still a stubborn teenage, nor because I have decided to go with the trend. No.

I do not dye my gray hair, because I was born like this (just like my father, my grandfather and my children), this is my identity, this is my story and I feel good about all of it. Some days I love it, some days I hate it. Maybe one day I will decide to dye my hair orange. Or green. Or blue. But I will do it because it is my taste, my will, and not because fashion has imposed me.

I do not dye my gray hair, because I want both my daughters and my son, to see that it is okay to accept ourselves just as we are. In the same way that it will be okay to change, if that is how we feel about doing. But the trigger should always be our inner voice, the respect for ourselves, and never external impositions and marketing demands.

I do not dye my white hair because, more than embracing the color, I embrace my choices and, forever and ever, I will always make a point of embracing myself.

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Maria Ines Goncalves is yet another Portuguese mom named Maria (like most of the women in Portugal), but now she is a Portuguese mom in the USA. Born in Portugal, Maria graduated with a degree in Political Science and believed she was not ready for motherhood, wanting to pursue her career and travel the world, although not wanting to live overseas. Guess what? She turned into a stay-at-home-mom of three (2007, 2010 and 2018) and moved to St. Louis due to her husband's job in 2017. Changes are a pattern in her life and, when she’s not adjusting to another life change, she loves to dance, bake, photograph, sew, draw and paint with the kids. But mainly she loves to enjoy the beauty and craziness of motherhood, her real and most precious purpose in life.


  1. Your self-love and self-acceptance at such a young age is the most beautiful aspect of this piece. I love that you never felt the need to cover up and that you embraced your gray hair. You are a beautiful, stunning woman and just as much of that comes from the way you carry yourself as it does from your natural beauty.

  2. Loved to read your post!
    I’m 37 and never dyed my hair, I have grey hair since the early twenties, I also embraced them, I love my greys or silvers, this is me.
    I ear people and let them talk I don’t mention their hair either!

    I don’t like to say never, but in the near future won’t dye it! This is not a trend this is me.

    Thank you for sharing! <3

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