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Why Tia Mowry was so quick to embrace her gray hair

The former "Sister, Sister" star writes about why going gray is a "blessing" in a new essay.

Tia Mowry says her decision to show off her natural gray hair in recent years reflects how far she has come in embracing her own style.

In a new essay published by InStyle, the 44-year-old actor, who is Black, opened up about how she formed a "negative relationship" with her hair because she was surrounded by European beauty standards as a child.

"Growing up, there were just no visuals or representation of someone who looked like me — Black girl with curly hair," writes Mowry. "All I saw being showcased was blonde, straight hair, blue eyes, white skin. And there was little to no visibility for women of a certain age."

Mowry recalled straightening her hair when she co-starred with her twin sister, Tamera, on the ABC sitcom "Sister, Sister" in the 1990s. Straight hair, she recalled thinking, was "what society was pushing as beautiful" at the time.

Later, in her 20s, Mowry felt she faced discrimination again when she was told at auditions that her curly hair was a "distraction." "And, of course, with that coming from a casting director, it encourages insecurities," she writes.

However, social media would later teach her to appreciate her own beauty. When she started seeing "more girls like me" on Instagram in the 2010s, she began to embrace her natural hair.

"There was this amazing community of curly girls, and just Black women celebrating all the various textures and colors of their hair at every age. It changed my perspective on what beauty actually was and how it could be defined," she writes.

Loving herself just as she was meant also embracing her gray hair as she aged, writes Mowry, who remembers she started to notice gray in her hair toward the end of her 20s or in her early 30s. "But that was when I would see maybe two or three gray hairs. My gray hair really started to come in heavy when I turned 40," writes the actor.

The sight of those first few gray hairs did not "alarm" her, says Mowry, and that's thanks to a bit of wisdom she learned from her parents.

"One thing that I credit my parents with is they’ve always taught me how to just be myself at every stage of my life. And I’ve always had this perspective that it is a blessing to get old," she writes.

Going gray, she explains, is a privilege.

“There are so many people on a daily basis that are not making it to the age where their hair starts to gray. And so when I see my gray hair, it actually is a blessing because it means that, yes, I’m getting older and I’m still here,” she writes. “I don’t take that lightly — I really, really don’t.”

In 2020, Mowry made headlines as one of a handful of celebrities who shared photos of their gray hair during the pandemic. Since then, she has continued to post photos of herself with her silvery hair.

Still, as much as Mowry has inspired fans by embracing her gray, she still faces pressure as a Hollywood actor.

"For example, maybe about four or five years ago, I was working on a film, and someone on set told me, 'You really need to cover those gray hairs! Girls shouldn’t be seen that way.' And I said, 'No. I’m going to keep my gray hair. This is normal, this is what happens,'" she recalls in her essay.

Mowry advised anyone "struggling with going gray and getting older" to "start embracing or allowing your energy and the people in your space to be supportive."

"It’s so important to focus on the people around you who are supporting you to grow old gracefully, as opposed to those who don’t," she writes.

She also suggests following online accounts that celebrate aging. If any account you're following makes you feel bad about yourself, she advises, "unfollow and block" them.

Mowry concluded her essay by inviting fans to join her on her mission to change the cultural narrative about aging.

"The one thing we all have in common as human beings is that every day, we are aging," she writes. "I think we really need to start asking ourselves, 'Why are we trying to diminish or suppress the beauty and the blessing of getting older?'

"I want to change the narrative, and that’s why I show off my hair the way it is."