Kylie Jenner did it. So did Rihanna and Kelly Osbourne. Of course, Lady Gaga, trendsetter that she is, rocked it back in 2010.
Once upon a time, it was unseemly for women to go out sporting anything other than a full mane of brown, black, red or blonde hair. Grey was seen as unnatural and, at the same time, a little too natural. It was shoved to the side, to the back of the mind, ignoring the tell-tale side of aging.
Right now, women are embracing the color whole-heartedly, and running towards the grey instead of away from it. A recent BuzzFeed post shows how young women are riding the trend, especially seen on Instgram with the hashtag #GrannyHair.
But why now? Why is this grey hair’s big moment?
We seem to be in the midst of a “revering our elders” moment. (Real talk, though: that needs to happen every day. Call your grandparents, people!) The fashion world has been pioneering this lately. French fashion house Céline tapped 80-year-old essayist Joan Didion to be their latest model, and Saint Laurent is using 71-year-old Joni Mitchell. The major beauty players are doing the same, with 64-year-old Jessica Lange for Marc Jacobs and 69-year-old Helen Mirren for L’Oreal Paris. In this year’s Milan Fashion Week, trends skewed towards something your grandmother might don for a social event.
This makes total sense in terms of how current demographics are shifting. The baby boomer generation, born between 1946 and 1964, are turning officially “old” at a rapid clip. As of 2011, they numbered 77M+ and are “the largest generation in American history.” Baby boomers began turning 65 in 2011, and won’t stop until the end of 2029.
Here’s how CNN puts this demographic’s strength in numbers in terms of future projected growth:
The 65+ population segment is projected to double to 71.5 million by 2030 and grow to 86.7 million by 2050.
With this projected growth will come a lot of societal changes (I’ve always said that this isn’t a generation that’ll age quietly). We’re beginning to see initial impacts with how we view that generation and the ones before. For example, It used to be that you couldn’t be seen as a sexual being after a certain age, that you were out of the running in the race to make babies. And while that second part might be true, the first has been proven false by many women over “a certain age.” Case in point: see every instance where a late-night talk show host jokes about Helen Mirren. They’re always saying she’s hot (and she is!). Society has long seen older men with grey hair as sexy, and is now (finally!) coming around to the idea that older women are hot too.
Young women coloring their hair grey even has a historical precedent. In her book “Seductress: Women Who Ravished the World and Their Lost Art of Love” author Betsy Prioleau mentions that young women in the French court used to powder their hair grey to emulate their elders. (If you’ve seen Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette,” the director subtly includes this detail, noticeable in some shots.)
Overall, this trend really points to a shift in how we’re seeing aging. People seem to be more open to the fact that life doesn’t stop after a certain age. And young women are celebrating their elders with their grey hair, natural or not.