In our culture, gray hair is synonymous with getting older. So Real Simple went on a search to find women who choose to go against the norm, free themselves from box color and never-ending salon appointments, and embrace the hair on their head—just the way it is. The response was overwhelming. Turns out, women of all ages and walks of life are embracing their grays. In fact, some women are even dyeing their hair gray (ironic, right?). Here, eight extraordinary women who make going gray look insanely gorgeous.

On the set of our October hair photo-shoot, our beauty editor had the pleasure of interviewing each of our eight models for the day, whose ages ranged from 32 to 67-years old. Although each woman had a different story about when she found her first gray hair (some in middle school, others in college, and so on), they all had one thing in common: going gray just wasn’t that big of a deal. Many women might dread the day they find a silver hair on their head. To these women, however, it wasn’t a super dramatic, depressing event. In fact, in a few cases, it was a somewhat of a right-of-passage. One woman, Ty Alexander, said that we she went gray at 14-years old she felt like she had “finally arrived.” And many of the women said the physical change made them feel more like their moms, who they felt looked beautiful with gray hair.

When asked why they chose not to color their hair, the women had a similar sentiment. In addition to wanting to live an authentic life, most agreed that the decision to go gray was freeing. Read: no more roots, more time, less money, and more energy to spend on things that really mattered to them. And more than one talked about how people actually approach them on the street, ask if their hair is real, and even ask to touch it. The confidence these women exude is inspiring and a little contagious. However you choose to style, cut, dye (or not dye) your hair, hearing what their gray means to these women just might help you fall in love with something unique about yourself.

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