sartorial musings: the rise of grey hair
In a world where fashion is undeniably obsessed with youth – you only have to look as far as that ten year-old kid sexed up for a Vogue fashion editorial for proof- it is unusual to see a fashion trend that goes against this (ageist) grain. “Young and glamourous” is perennially in fashion, and although a select few “older” actresses and models are celebrated, youth always seems to be at the forefront of the fashion and beauty industry. However, there is one trend that appears to be breaching the age divide; grey hair.
The grey hair in question has been seen on the young, beautiful and hip crowd; Lady Gaga and Pixie Geldolf have both famously rocked the look, as have several runway models of late. So what does this peculiar trend actually represent?
Unfortunately, I really don’t believe that the grey hair trend is a backlash against our youth-obsessed culture, and I will explore this later. I really wish it was a rebellious call against the notion that women cannot choose to age gracefully in today’s society, as every third advertisement on television is for hair dye with some hot young thing urging women to be their sexiest selves, and for Pete’s sake cover those grey hairs, they’re unsightly! There is actually nothing wrong with going grey; the pigment in our hair is biologically engineered to fade with time, and (at the time of writing) we are powerless to stop the process. Society is inconveniencing women as per usual (look up “vajazzling” on Google if you would like an example) by making them feel that they absolutely must dye their hair, lest people assume that they have “let themselves go,” a stigma I detest. Some women don’t actually have the option of using hair dye; my mother, for example, has extremely sensitive skin and will practically scalp herself if she dyes her hair. This makes sense really, as I don’t think nature ever really intended us to dump a whole heap of corrosive chemicals onto our heads in the name of vanity anyway.
Unfortunately for women, any “visible sign of ageing” is frowned upon, and we are urged to immediately go and do something about it before we become social lepers. Our husbands are obviously going to leave us for brighter-hued high school graduates if we let our hair colour take its natural course. Our friends won’t want to be seen with us! Our children will be embarrassed! By the way, this would never happen to George Clooney or Alec Baldwin- everyone knows that men just get better with age, and salt-and-pepper hair is sexy! Just don’t go getting confused, ladies. The industry only favours the look on one gender, and it ain’t yours.
Coming back to my earlier opinion, the reason I don’t believe that the grey hair trend is in support of the whole ageing gracefully business is because the hair is used as a way to emphasize their youth, rather than attempting to mimic a natural sign of ageing. The hair is always styled to look edgy and different, and is worn with teenage-style fashion such as ripped fishnet tights and exaggerated eye makeup. The artificially-achieved grey hair juxtaposed against plump, dewy, wrinkle-free skin and neon pink lipstick makes the wearer appear even younger than they actually are, thus supporting the youth culture instead of rebelling against it.
You know, maybe I am just reading too much into this whole thing, and the hair was just all a big mistake. Lady Gaga probably just left the peroxide in a little too long in pursuit of the perfect platinum blonde and made the transition into Grey Town. Perhaps Pixie legitimately went grey overnight Marie Antoinette-style, and here I am criticising her look. Maybe grey hair is just the next natural step for the blondes to take.
However this trend began, I hope that it is here to stay; if anything else it will serve to confuse people, and society might be forced to say goodbye to the negative and somewhat stupid stigma of having grey hair. Women have enough pressure to maintain appearances as it is – have you typed “vajazzling” into the Google search bar yet??
By Jane Boulton