Silver Hair Chronicles: A retired Canadian Mountie says ‘I feel my true self emerging’ as the whites grow in

Shannon This.is.me_shannon

[Photo via This.is.me_Shannon]

Welcome to the Silver Hair Chronicles, a bi-weekly feature where we highlight women who have made the bold choice to ditch the dye and rock their silvers.

This week we feature Shannon, a 46-year-old retired Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer, also known as Mounties. She lives in Manitoba county, and is currently a stay-at-home mom to two boys and step mom to a girl.

In addition to posting her progress on Instagram, she created her website, Shannon’s Not So Secret Diary, as a response to a traumatic incident when her private childhood diary was stolen and shared. She’s taking back her love of writing by sharing it with the world. Check out the site for her musings on trust, travel, and her going-gray journey.

While for some SHC women their first hair emerged when they were teens, for Shannon, gray hair came on somewhat late and suddenly. She didn’t see her first gray until she was 30, but before she knew it she was nearly completely white and touching up her dye often.

It’s been more than a year since she gave up on chasing the whites. Luckily she has an incredible support system for her journey, with a family that loves her new look—even if her teen and pre-teen sons took some convincing initially.

Check out my interview with Shannon below!

When did you start going grey?

“I started noticing grey/white hair when I was 30.”

Did you color your hair and for how long?

“I had been dying my hair for 15 years. It began with the removal and addition of colour trying to achieve a different look from me with my black hair. Over the years it changed to adding colour to cover the emerging silver roots. I went from coloring every couple of months to every 12 days.

Looking back, I realize that for me, coloring my hair was one way of trying to find me, and to be a person I thought I should be. Like with so many other aspects of my life, I really didn’t give myself the opportunity to be my true self.”

When did you stop coloring your hair?

“The last time I dyed my hair was April 23, 2019.”

Was it difficult to see yourself with white hair?

“In the beginning it was extremely difficult to see those white hairs emerging. I had many days where I questioned if I would be able to continue down this path.

As a result of difficult experiences when I was young, coupled with the knowledge that I look like my mom (and she went completely grey/white in her 30’s) and a fear of being just like her or turning into her (it was a difficult and very strained relationship) I have struggled with a shadow of fear and doubt of who/what I would see looking back at me through the mirror.

As time went on it was less difficult to see my natural hair color and now, I embrace it and can’t wait for it all to be fully transitioned.” 

Do friends/family/strangers have opinions about your transition?

“People always have opinions … on so many things…it’s human nature. I guess it boils down to if they share their opinions or keep it tot themselves.

I must say, since I decided to stop dying my hair, I have mostly gotten positive feedback.

From strangers, early on, I did have some people doing the double take or have the not so hidden stares but really there were no comments. It wasn’t far into my transition (maybe a few months) that I started getting comments such as how neat the reverse ombre was looking, or how much they loved my hair. I also got the comment of, ‘If my natural hair looked like yours then I would have no problem letting it show.’ One comment in particular that surprised me was from a much older gentleman… I was in Walmart and as I walked past him, he said, ‘I’m sorry for staring, but I really love your hair.’ The comment was so just so sweet and genuine. I have also had people tell me that I am inspiring them to consider letting their natural hair grow in.

When I told my family that I was going to stop dying my hair, my boys were not on board with the idea of their mom having grey/white hair but as time has gone on, they actually like it and say it looks silver and pretty cool. (That’s a pretty big compliment coming from a preteen and teen boy.)

My soul sister…she is extremely supportive and was so excited when I decided to let my hair go natural.

My husband, well, he is my biggest fan. He is always supportive of everything I do and has always says he thinks I am beautiful however I decided to wear my hair…or anything else for that matter.”

How do you respond to unwelcome comments?

“Everyone will experience unwelcome comments at some point in their lives. As a child and young adult, I had a very hard time dealing with unwelcome and negative comments. I took everything to heart and blamed myself for them. From experience, self awareness, self reflection and confidence I have learned to handle these comments much better. In my opinion, people are entitled to their opinions it is how they share them that makes the difference.

For me, validating a person’s opinion is important, so long as their comments are not negative and/or hurtful/demeaning. I am very strong willed when it comes to my personal beliefs, values and integrity and I am a ‘say it as it is’ type of person. Unwelcome comments are met with validation of that person’s opinions coupled with politely sharing what I want/believe in, the ability to exude confidence in myself and my values and the strength to ignore and walk away if warranted. I spent a lot of my life following what others expected of me and letting comments rule how I felt about myself. Although unwanted comments can be difficult, I have learned to deal with them better and am living a happier, more content life not letting them affect me so much.”

 How has going grey changed the way you feel about yourself?

“What is amazing is that as I let my natural hair grow in, I feel my true self emerging. When I look in mirror, I love what I see and know how I feel about who I see looking back at me. I see a stronger, more empowered, confident woman emerging and am so ready to embrace that. Surprisingly, it has given me a sense of empowerment, freedom and beauty. I am a believer that true beauty comes from within. It comes from truth, love and the freedom to allow your true self to shine through.”

What advice would you give someone who is considering going grey?

For anyone considering letting their natural hair grow in, first off, my advice is to do it for you. Know your why… as to why are you wanting/deciding to let your natural hair shine through. As you embark on this journey, remember there can be ups and downs, remember to be patient, be kind to yourself and be open to vulnerability, self exploration and growth.

Be unapologetically your own unique self. Embrace it, own it, love it!”

What has been the most surprising thing about going gray?

Besides what it has done for me personally, what has been very surprising is how many strong, beautiful, inspiring people I have connected with through social media since embarking on this part of my journey. It has certainly been an added bonus.”

I love your tattoos, when did you get them and is there a story behind them?

“Thank you. I got my first tattoo when I completed my police training. Since then I have gotten A LOT of ink, but I am not quite finished. I have a few more spots on my body that I am willing to use as a canvas. I love my tattoos. Each piece is unique, has meaning to me and has a story. Perhaps this is something we can cover more in depth another time.” (Stay tuned for part two :))

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