Women choose to challenge their surroundings every day. Fighting for justice, standing up in the face of adversity, and making impactful strides for future generations. In honor of International Women’s Day and this year’s theme #ChoosetoChallenge, we spoke to three women who chose to challenge societal pressures and stereotypes with their haircuts and styles.
By breaking free of socially imposed standards, they are examples of freedom and strength. They reinforce the truth that there is no one right way to live and that every woman deserves to be celebrated and loved. Take a look at their stories:
International Women’s Day: #ChoosetoChallenge
Gray Doesn’t Mean Old
Katerina Agretelis saw her first gray at eight years old and had been dyeing her grays for the better part of the last ten years. At the start of lockdown, Agretelis decided to drop the dye and embrace her grays. “My last salon appointment was on February 15th, 2020, just before my 24th birthday,” she says. “I didn’t know it would be my last one! Of course, 2020 had a lot of surprises in store. When March rolled around, I quickly realized it was the perfect time to ditch the dye. It just felt obvious. And now that it’s been a year, I feel so free!”
I choose to challenge the notion of gray equals old.
Although Agretelis felt she was presenting her authentic self, the feedback she received was mixed. Some people commented that she’s too young to have gray hair, while others expressed concern over an overload of stress or a vitamin deficiency. On the other hand, people have affirmed her decision, stopping her on the street to compliment her hair.
The young gray queen chooses to challenge the notion that gray equals old. The more she shares her story, the more people tell her that they also found their first gray hair in elementary school and started dyeing it in their twenties. Agretelis points that if everybody stopped dyeing their hair, we would quickly realize that the average age for going gray is younger than society leads us to believe.
Editor’s tip: Give your grays some extra dimension and shine by washing and conditioning with Nexxus Blonde Assure Purple Shampoo and Conditioner for Blonde and Silver Hair. This duo will enhance your color and add tons of moisture!
The Meaning of International Women’s Day
When it comes to what International Women’s Day means to her, Agretelis hopes we as a country can overcome the racial and class rifts that have deepened over the past five years. She wants to fight for a more intersectional future for the good of the people.
When asked about how she incorporates self-care into her life, Agretelis says that she prioritizes rest and listens to her body. She always goes to bed when she’s tired. She is the kind of person that needs to get a good night’s sleep. If she’s staying up, there’s a good reason for it.
Relaxer, Color-Free, and Trailblazing for Future Generations
Kelly Heflin has been relaxer-free for fifteen years and color-free for the last ten. “I decided not to use any chemicals on my hair again when I had to be hospitalized after I colored my hair in 2010.” She decided that her health was more important than covering her grays. Embracing her grays was scary at first because she has a substantial patch in the front of her hair, but seeing how her own mother embraced every single gray strand with confidence helped make the process easier.
Editor’s tip: Recreate Kelly’s beautiful curls on your own with a boost from SheaMoisture 100% Virgin Coconut Oil Daily Hydration Leave-In Treatment. This lightweight formula hydrates hair and prevents frizz for the curls of your dreams.
The most unexpected reaction to my hair was an older man telling me that I was beautiful and that I should tell other women that gray hair was beautiful.
Heflin notes that she has been treated differently since her hair started graying rapidly.
The most unexpected reaction to her hair, she remembers, was an older man telling her that she was beautiful and that she should tell other women that gray hair was beautiful. “He told me that it was a signal of ‘a woman who doesn’t give a damn about others opinions.’ I have never forgotten that interaction.”
Heflin’s Take On Self-Love and The Future of Women
Heflin practices self-love by practicing forgiveness. “I practice self-love by giving myself a break when I make a mistake. I remind myself that Rome was not built overnight. My empire will take a while.”
Heflin hopes to help younger women avoid the bumps in the road that slowed her down. “I do not want any young woman to go through what I went through trying to figure out the woman I am today,” she shares. She wants their process to be smoother and easier and wants them to carry the torch. Heflin intends to inspire the next generation of future “kick-ass” girls. She concludes: the world is bound to be better with women working together.
The Power of International Women’s Day
For Heflin, International Woman’s Day means celebrating the women who have come before us; the trailblazers! The women who we watched overcome insurmountable odds to get us to where we are today. “We still have work to do,” Heflin says. “but we now know what is needed and how to achieve it. We keep pushing because we have to.”
The world is bound to be better with women working together.
Challenging Hair Stereotypes in The Orthodox Jewish Community
Hadassa Goldberg decided to change her hairstyle a few months ago when she noticed that her choice of hair covering was making her feel very depressed. In the Orthodox Jewish community Goldberg is a part of, married women cover their hair as an extra level of modesty. “Many women in my community cover with a wig and I was feeling like I looked like everybody else and it wasn’t working for me,” Goldberg shares. “I decided to take a bold step in my Orthodox community. I created a wig with pink highlights on the bottom and I have never been happier.”
Goldberg’s decision was met with an overwhelming amount of support. “I love that I can take care of [my hair] and make It beautiful,'” she says.
I love that there is one day in the year and believe there should be more, in which we say thank you for the women in our lives and for what it is that they have done for us and do for us every day.
Finding Happiness Within
For Goldberg, the biggest struggle was learning how to find happiness in parts of life that weren’t necessarily sexy or exciting. Every day, she tries to find a moment to ask herself what love she needs and create it for herself. Sometimes it’s a nourishing bowl of soup, a conversation with a friend, or a movie.
When asked about the power of International Women’s Day Goldberg says, “I believe that as women, we are so busy with the many tasks we have, we just get used to not stopping and I love that there is one day in the year (and believe there should be more), in which we say thank you for the women in our lives and for what they have done for us and do every day.”
The Impact of the “Me Too” Movement
Goldberg chooses to challenge society’s understanding of women’s sexual health and safety. “The “me too” movement was a massive push in showing how many women have had their safety violated when it comes to their sexual rights and that part of their lives,” Goldberg shares. “I think for many men, they sort of took it as an understanding of ‘not all men are like that’ and they didn’t understand that so often we are scared and put in dangerous situations and simply how scary it is to be a woman sometimes and how valid all of those fears are.”
Goldberg remembers a time when she was going for a run and didn’t want to take her phone with her. She sent her husband a text letting him know her location and told him how soon she would be back. He was confused about why she was letting him know her plans in such detail. It dawned on her that as a woman, she was going on a run at 11:00 PM and couldn’t allow herself to run around the block without someone knowing where she was because something could happen to her. “My husband had no understanding of how scary the world is for me.”
“I would love for men and the world in general, even women who haven’t experienced any form of sexual trauma, to actually understand…I think we can encourage it with conversations and stories.”
All Things Hair would like to thank Kelly, Katerina, and Hadassa for sharing their stories in honor of International Women’s Day.