“So I say, if you are burning, burn. If you can stand it, the shame will burn away and leave you shining, radiant and righteously shameless.” ~ Elizabeth Cunningham
A couple of years ago, when I grew out my full head of natural silver hair at the age of 37 after coloring it for 15 years as though my life depended on it, I became kind of an unwitting advocate for natural beauty.
Everywhere I go people started inquiring about this hair: Is it “real,” and how on Earth did it come to be its freakishly bold self?
I guess in a world so accustomed to all things made up, dyed and photoshopped, my silver sisters and I are still somewhat of an anomaly. It’s like we are wearing a visible symbol of freedom, and possibly even rebellion, on our heads.
And it can be such a great gig, like when you go out to dinner and the beautiful young server confides that her hair has been falling out in clumps due to dye allergies, and now thanks to seeing my head of unabashed silver, she feels confident for the first time to show her own true colors.
Wow. It feels pretty damn good to help to set hair and hearts free, just by walking around as myself. Watching the ripples go out upon the waters is pretty much my favorite thing ever.
Seeing the potential to truly change lives and help to relieve the Earth’s chemical burden—albeit through the seemingly surface trait of hair—my friend and I launched a Facebook group to support women and men through their transition to silver hair and beyond. What I’ve found is that it’s so often much more than hair; it’s the remembrance of entire ways of being. It’s learning to love ourselves again.
We find that underneath our hair dye habits and encoded in those sparkling tell-tale roots that we tried so hard to hide, lies layer upon layer of beliefs about our own lack of worth that we are ready to release, so we can birth ourselves anew—external conditions that we have internalized about what we “need” to be in order to be pretty, vital, accepted, loved.
We tend to hold on to these imposed beliefs as though they are part of our selves—as though to lose them would be to die—only to find that they were never us to begin with, and that in shedding them, we are revealed.
It’s self revelation; and once you get a taste of that freedom, the layers just keep falling to the floor.
And so, I want to assert that we aren’t beautiful because of what we put on, but because of what we are willing to take off. And by that I don’t mean (necessarily) hair dye or cosmetics: I mean the shame and self-loathing that comes from other people’s lies that have taken up residence in our bodies. Lies in which we have, so often, become unconsciously entangled and complicit ourselves.
And what is left of us when the last layer hits the floor and we are stripped bare for all the world to see? The beauty of pure love, shining and righteously shameless. If you want “radiance,” (as so many products out there promise): Honey, there’s nothing that shines so much as the truth.
Recently I’ve been honored to host some webinars on silver hair and natural beauty. I’ve been told that perhaps if I was just a little less “woo” and a little more “shampoo,” I could probably sell myself a little better. But you see, I am not a “beauty expert,” certainly not as the magazines would define one. I can’t tell you which product to use to best cover your “flaws,” which one controls hair frizz, or even which palette will look best with your shade of skin. I can’t tell you which of 500 identical-looking products on the shelf will bring you the happiness and joy for which you long and so richly deserve.
What I can tell you though, is that though while this information may be fun to play around with and maybe enhance your essence, it is not—and could never be—the source of your beauty nor your power. When we seek external fixes at the expense of our own power, we become distracted and estranged from our vitality and our very selves. And make no mistake that it’s been a trick purposefully played, that is soon to meet its end.
What I can tell you is how to merge the elements within yourself to activate the divine power source that you are. I can show you how to summon the natural force of love that runs through your veins and lights up your cells from within. I can show you how to commune with Earth through nutrition so that your cells sing Her vital, magnificent song. I can show you how the same beauty of moon, wolf and rose already shines within you and how it comes when you call. I can show you how to get radically free of anything you aren’t. I can hold a space space for your return, home to the love that you are. And the way I can do that is to be that myself, and that is the very name of my game.
And so, the “beauty products” I use? Love, food, dirt, sunlight, laughter, tears, seawater. I was stripped bare long ago; stripped of anything that I wasn’t. My morning beauty regimen? Standing at the altar of my truth and invoking my higher self with an affirmation of love; breathing that in and letting all else fall away with each exhale.
To wit: you are not natural because you used a natural beauty product. You are natural, because you are nature. Nature Herself! So it makes perfect sense, doesn’t it, that the more you align yourself with Her incredible forces, from sea to tree, the more incredibly dazzling you shall be.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against shampoo—I use some to keep my hair clean here and there. I may even indulge in some lip gloss. I like to get my va-voom on as much as the next girl (possibly more!). But honestly, any product you can buy and slather on has incredibly little to do with the beauty that you are, that very beauty my eyes are fixed upon with love and admiration right now.
So if you, like me, have grown tired of a world filled with false ads telling you to slather on chemicals, to cover your head with dye, to inject yourself with god-knows-what to look younger, to covet glorified airbrushed images at your own expense (literally and metaphorically)—and basically, to look anywhere but your own heart for beauty—please join me in a meeting of the minds and hearts. It’s time to adjust our focus away from the cosmetic counter, away from any external feature we’ve been taught to believe is “flawed,” away from what bodies look like and back to what bodies are: miracles of love. Back to Earth’s riches and the luscious truth of our own hearts. Because that is where the real beauty lies.
Beauty, like truth, is never acquired; it is only, ever, revealed.
And from there, all else dances.
Author: Sara Sophia Eisenman
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Author’s Own