At a recent gathering at our home, a guest said to my 31-year-old son, "So, is that your brother over there? Does he live here?" My son was confused, thinking that this man was referring to his 24-year-old brother who had recently moved out of state. When he realized who the topic of this question was, he replied, "That's my stepdad. He's in his mid-50s."

People used to think that I looked young for my age. "You're 45? No way! You definitely don't look 45," is something I would regularly hear. I was proud of that — looking younger than your age is something every woman strives for, right?

It doesn't happen anymore.

In August 2021, I made a drastic change to my appearance. I was spending the summer in Houston with my aforementioned youngest son, as he was going through a bone marrow transplant that would hopefully cure his leukemia.

A drastic change

He was not supposed to leave the house too frequently, so we had a lot of TV time. I was catching up on "Grace & Frankie." In one earth-shattering episode, Jane Fonda decided to stop coloring her hair. She was letting her silver flag fly!

When I saw that patch of gray on her head, my first thought was, "If Jane Fonda can do it, so can I."

The last time I colored my hair was about a year and a half ago. I wear my hair shoulder length, so the dye is practically all grown out. I have embraced my gray hair (sure, I could call it silver, but let's be real — my hair is gray) even though I know that it makes me look older. Or, my actual age.

To determine the best way to go about this major transition, I did what anyone would do when they're embarking on a new venture — I joined a Facebook group of like-minded women. Several thousand women, ranging in age from their 20s to 70s, who have finally decided, "Enough is enough." She would no longer be a slave to the stylist's chair, shelling out her hard-earned cash to hide those roots, only to do it all again four weeks later. It's a vicious, never-ending cycle.

The most popular topic in this group is the question of how to transition from dyeing your hair to embracing your natural color. Can you remove the existing color? Can you have it professionally dyed gray, so it will match your hair as it grows out?

The overall consensus is that there is not really an easy way to make a quick, painless transition. Most women say you just need to let it grow. Some will make a drastic cut and go from long to short hair to speed up the transition process. The bottom line is it simply takes time.

But another truth that is almost unanimously held is that once you've achieved this change and you have a head of beautiful gray hair, you'll never go back. Once you stop treating your hair with harsh chemicals every month, it becomes healthier and more beautiful than ever.

Like many women, I started seeing gray strands in my brunette hair when I was still in my 20s.

"I am much too young to have gray hair," I told myself. "I need to cover it, or else I'll look old."

Because, of course, that's what society has always told women, no matter how old they are. If you're a man with salt-and-pepper hair, you're a Silver Fox. But if you're a woman, you better cover that up. You will no longer be considered attractive if you have gray hair, no matter how old you are.

My friend, Roxanne, pretty much confirmed this. She is dating and has been pretty active on various dating apps. "I needed to use a temporary hair color to make my hair look blonde," she told me. "Men never click on profiles of women who have gray hair."

That certainly isn't a surprise, but it is a shame. There are millions of beautiful women in the world who do not dye their hair. There are also many young women, in their 20s and 30s, who dye their hair "silver." I'm thrilled that I no longer have to drench my head in chemicals every month. And I truly am seeing healthier, thicker hair.

What's the problem?

The problem is that my 54-year-old husband (two years my junior) does not have a single gray hair on his head. There might be one in his beard, but that's it. He also has a very young-looking face. Two strikes against me. The dude who thought my husband was actually my son was not the first person to make that observation.

"Oh, Diane, your husband is a kid!"

"Rob, you don't look anywhere near your age. You look like you're about 35."

Well, bully for Rob! I am just so happy for him.

But what does that say about me? What should I do about it? One or two people have suggested that I start coloring my hair again. To that I reply, "Hell no!"

I am a 56-year-old woman who takes care of herself. I exercise frequently, eat fairly healthy, drink wine sparingly, and I love to buy dresses at the thrift shop. Society doesn't take these factors into account when looking at me — but it should.

I proudly wear my gray hair, and I proudly hold the hand of my very handsome, very young-looking husband when we go out in public. If people feel the need to look at us sideways and wonder what that young guy is doing with that old broad, then that's just fine with me.

This article originally appeared on