Grey Hair on Young Women | Radical, Subversive Chic or Just Playing Around?

Kelly Osbourne goes grey at a Los Angeles DJ night. Photograph: Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Vanity FairThree times in my life — one of them at Louis Licari, the New York hair salon known for its work on blonds — a malfunction occurred, such that when I looked at the woman in the mirror, she had grey hair.

With all my talk about not too much botox and aging gracefully, I was paralyzed with the vision of me with all-grey hair. If one stays calm, most hair misshaps are fixable and I soon had Louis Licari himself consulting on phase two of returning me to ‘normal’.

Kate Lanphear, senior style director at Elle magazine via Garance Dore blogPersonally, I cultivate the really light-blond look called ‘subversive’ by Kate Lanphear, the senior style director at Elle magazine. 

In fact, Kate’s hair is considered to be sexually subversive, with reams of research saying that men know she’s hot in bed but is incapable of being faithful.

As a women’s lifestyle consultant, I’ve advised clients that boomer women will be hooking up with their granddaughters, in a collaborative new hybrid feminism.

In all honesty, I never imagined that young women would go grey.

Reality is that from the runways of spring shows at Dior and Chanel in Paris, to the hair salons of New York, young women are going grey. Fashion trend watchers advise that this is not a fashion moment for the nerdy girl but rather a moment for confident stylesetters.

Fashion blogger Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for Y-3Even Tavi, the ‘it-girl’ fashion bloggers has gone grey. Besides causing us to smile at the contradiction of her physical features, does her hair color add ‘weight’ to her fashion writing? Probably not. We just admire her guts.

Katie Shillingford, the fashion editor for Dazed and Confused magazine via Tommy TanFor young women like Kelly Osbourne and Pixie Geldorf, it’s a fashion moment, a whim.

If the style goes mainstream, as many predict, then grey hair becomes a dramatically more political statement about individuality.

The daring, Smart Sensuality look going public represents yet more pushback against the fashion and beauty industries eternal commitment —  not only to women’s youthful appeal — but fixing her every ‘flaw’.

Unlike France, Italy and Brazil — to name three other sexy cultures — American women consider peak beauty to fall around age 28. The difference in self-perception of our best physical selves for American women is a 10-20 year gap with these countries, where large numbers of women answer 35-45.

France, Italy and Brazil may cultivate young models just as America does, but their national cultures don’t tell women they’re physically washed up  in their 20s.

Across American culture, we do see changes in pop culture’s perception of Mrs. Robinson. To the best of my knowledge, the Dove Global Beauty research hasn’t been duplicated, to see if self-perceptions have actually changed in the last 2-3 years.

Typically, a fashion moment doesn’t change the public culture’s self-perceptions of womanhood. It takes years for women to see themselves differently, because the self-doubt is embedded deep in our brains.

I do love this grey-hair trend though, even if it doesn’t last long. It’s all part of fashion’s celebration of womanhood, and that’s welcome news in our trend book. Anne

More reading Young Trendsetters Streak Their Hair with Gray NYTimes

In the world of fashion, grey hair is in The Guardian