Happier Grey Podcast

Episode 1 - What it's all about!

March 22, 2024 Season 1 Episode 1
Happier Grey Podcast
Episode 1 - What it's all about!
Show Notes Transcript

Have you ever thought it’s crazy that a man can be a sexy, silver fox, but people often assume a woman embracing her greys has given up on herself?

 It’s a double-standard I’d love to change, and the reason for creating Happier Grey.

Each week, on the Happier Grey Podcast, you can hear me chatting to a different woman, who has chosen to go grey. In the hope inspiring and supporting you on your grey hair journey. We’ll be talking about:

·     Why they decided to go grey

·     How other people have reacted

·     Tips for growing the dye out

·     And much, much, more.

In this first episode, I talk more about where the idea for Happier Grey came from. And tell the story of how I came to have grey hair and why I'm truly Happier Grey.

Happier Grey Podcast – What it’s all about!

 Hello, and thanks for joining me, Helen Johnson, for the Happier Grey podcast. I'm pro aging and love my grey hair, but I know it can be quite intimidating to take the plunge, so each week I'll be chatting to other women who've chosen to embrace the grey in the hope of inspiring and supporting you, whether you already have silver hair, in the process of going grey, or are just considering ditching the dye.

Most weeks on the Happier Grey podcast you'll find me chatting to other guests, but this week I thought I'd kick off by telling you a little bit about my grey hair story and where the idea for Happier Grey came from. 

I finally took the plunge and decided to go grey about four years ago. I'd been thinking about it for a few years before that, but I didn't know anyone else my age who'd chosen to go grey.

And I wasn't sure what reaction I'd get. When I spoke to my hairdresser, she encouraged me to wait until more of my hair was white, and so nothing else happened. 

Until lockdown. 

Suddenly, going to the hairdresser's wasn't an option. It seemed like the perfect time to ditch the dye. And although my husband did offer to dye my hair, I said no, and I haven't coloured it since.

Lockdown was definitely a watershed moment for a lot of people. It gave us time to breathe and think about what we wanted from our lives. And for lots of women, choosing to go grey was a part of that. 

So now, you see far more women with grey hair than before. And attitudes are starting to shift, which is great. But there's still a long way to go before a woman going grey is seen as the equivalent of a man becoming a silver fox. 

I think there's still a lot of fear around going grey for most women, and it's hardly surprising. We live in a very ageist society. 

We're surrounded by messaging from the beauty industry that promotes looking youthful as an ideal. They’re spending billions every year, playing on our insecurities around ageing. Simply because they want to sell us more anti- ageing products. 

Alongside that, there's often an anti-ageing narrative in the press with women who've chosen to go grey, being accused of giving up on themselves, which is pretty ironic, given these women are often looking after what really matters, which is making positive choices around exercise and nutrition. 

When I started researching the grey hair space, one of the things that struck me was that the grey-haired influencers on Instagram tended to either be beautiful ex models in their fifties. Or fresh-faced women in their thirties, again, often very pretty. 

It's easy to get imposter syndrome around showing up with grey hair when that's all you're seeing. From my perspective, I'd like every woman to be able to feel comfortable going grey, if that's what she decides to do. 

I see ageing as a privilege, not something to be ashamed of, and I'd love to play a part in changing the perception of grey hair. And that's where the idea for Happier Grey came from. 

The Happier Grey podcast. is about celebrating lots of different women who are embracing their greys. I'm deliberately looking for a diverse selection of guests. Some are young, some older. Some already have grey hair, others are in the process of growing out the dye. And they’re from all walks of life too.

Going grey isn’t an easy choice, it takes a lot of self-confidence and self-belief. It's not quick. And for many, it can be a lonely experience too. But there are lots of positives. The women on the Happier Grey podcast have been there, and they've come along to share their stories. The good. And the bad. They talk about their attitude to ageing, greying hair, image, and lots more besides.

If you're thinking about going grey, they're here to tell you what it's really like. And if you've already taken the plunge, the familiar stories will hopefully make you smile. Or shake a fist.

I don't mind whether women choose to go grey or not, but I would like to see more of us ageing proactively in a way that will make us happy and healthy for years to come, which is a theme you'll often hear me coming back to.

For those who do choose to go grey, you haven't given up on yourself. You can have grey hair and still look great. There are lots of very stylish women with grey hair, choosing to wear bright colours and looking after themselves better than they have done for years. 

They're taking control of their lives, rather than just doing what they've always done, or what other people expect them to do. Which is the best way to age, in my view.

My grey hair story started quite early on. When I was 18, my mum found my first grey hair. And I can remember her being quite excited about it, but not in a good way. And me, being really surprised by her reaction because obviously, she was my mum. And if I was getting grey hairs and was starting to look older, then how old was she? 

Other than thinking that her reaction was a bit strange, I didn't really think too much about it. Although, I admit, I was slightly nervous because I knew one of my grandmothers went grey in her very early twenties, and I was worried that that might happen to me.

Thankfully, it didn't. Over the next few years, I gradually got an odd grey hair here and there. And probably like a lot of people, I tended to just pull them out. Other than that, I didn't really think too much about them. 

Through my twenties, my hairdresser tried to persuade me to get highlights. She always said my hair was the perfect colour for them, and I always said no. I was happy with the colour of my hair, and thought that dyeing was just not for me. 

That all changed in my early thirties. I'd broken up with my first husband and started dating someone else. The first time I met his mother, she was horrified by a small patch of grey hair that I had in my fringe, and was like, oh my god, how old is she? The boyfriend offered to pay for me to have some highlights done at Toni and Guy, and I said yes. 

I look back now and think, why? Why on earth would I do that? It was just mad because it set me on a road. But I guess I probably had low self-esteem having come out of a relationship and just wasn't as sure of myself as I would have liked to have been. So, I ended up saying yes. 

And as a result of that, I gradually had more highlights, then moved on to a solid colour, and finally I had a pale blonde streak dyed into the front too, because I had more white hairs there than anywhere else.

I ended up dyeing my hair for about 25 years, and if I'm honest, through most of that time, I found the roots pretty stressful. When it was freshly coloured, it was lovely, but within a week or so, the roots were already starting to show, making me feel pretty self-conscious. So, I'd end up getting my hair coloured every four or five weeks, wasting an afternoon in the hairdressers, and spending a tonne of money.

I used to work with a lady called Mary, who had gone grey in her thirties and had the most beautiful white hair. And I kept saying, I wish my hair was like yours. I guess her hair got me thinking about going grey. And as you know, I toyed with the idea for a couple of years before I finally decided to grow it out.

I'm not going to lie. I didn't really enjoy the growing out process. I thought my hair looked a mess most of the time, so I ended up tying it back. That way, I didn't have to look at it. 

Thankfully, it was lockdown, so I wasn't out and about. And I was a bit less self-conscious on Zoom than I would have been meeting people in person.

I'd read that there were three ways to grow your hair out. Having it cropped very short. Having grey streaks dyed in it. Or just being patient and accepting the stripe. But really short hair doesn't suit me. So that was never going to be an option. And I was done with dyeing. So, I knew that I was just going to have to put up with it. And then have it cut as short as I dare when it had grown out far enough. In my case, that was about 18 months in, when I chose to have it cut into a jaw length bob with some layers. And at that point, there really wasn't much blonde left. 

Once the last of the blonde was cut out, I let it grow longer again. It's in much better condition now than it used to be when I coloured it. It doesn't get split ends, and it's now down way below my shoulders. Longer than it's been for the last 25 years. And I really love the colour. 

The dye's all been gone for a couple of years now. And there's definitely no going back for me. It's just so much easier to look after. I go to the hairdressers every 3 months for a good cut. I only have to wash my hair about once a week.

It just fits so much more easily with my lifestyle and my image of myself. I think part of the reason I chose to grow out when I did was because I switched from a corporate career to working for myself. For years I'd worn smart dresses and jackets, and dyed my hair, to have a certain image because that's what I thought was expected of me. 

Now I'm free to be myself and my style is much more casual. Which is probably why it makes sense for my hair to be natural, too. 

I've been really pleasantly surprised by other people's reactions. Given what people had said when I'd mentioned going grey before I did it, I was expecting a lot of negativity. But generally, I just get really positive comments from people.

Everybody likes the colour. And a lot of people say, ooh, if I had your hair colour, I'd definitely grow mine out, too. But I think one of the things people don't realise is just how nice their hair is going to look if they grow it. When you just see half a centimetre of roots, you really don't get a feel for what it's actually going to be like. And I have to say, for me, it was a massively pleasant surprise. 

My husband was quite anti the idea of my growing my hair out when I said that I was going to do it. But now he really likes it. And my teenage daughter isn't embarrassed by my grey hair either. So, it's all good. I really am happier grey. 

I hope that gives you some sense of what Happier Grey is all about and that you'll tune in and listen to future episodes where I'll be chatting to other women about their experiences of going grey. 

Thanks so much for joining me for this week's show. I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have. I'll be back again next week, but in the meantime, you can follow me on Instagram at happier.grey. Have a great week.