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Gray matters

by Jeanne Chinard

A recent New York Times article reported that judging from latest trend among young fashionistas - gray is the new black. No, not clothing, hair. Whether it’s just streaks or the whole head, edgy young hipsters are flashing gray. Having just made an appointment to cover my roots, I was surprised, but pleased. How wonderful to see a generation disregard the inviolate rule that you should never, ever show your roots.

However, as the article also points out, Nielsen reports that in 2009, U.S. women spent $1.3 billion to cover gray. It is wonderfully outrageous for hip twenty-somethings to streak or silver up their hair. It is anti-fashion in the most seriously fashion obsessed way. Not every twenty-six year old in New York or London will be able to pull it off, or even want to. Unfortunately, not will every sixty-six year old will either.

I don’t think the problem is that society isn’t ready for a generation of boomers to go gray, or even that deep down, neither are the boomers themselves. Think of the women of my generation and a little older who have gone grey and look smashing for it - silver foxes like Helen Mirren, Joan Baez, or Emmylou Harris.

These are just a few of the women who look just as vital, if not more so, with gray hair. They are all beautiful women who project sexiness and confidence.

Older women who wear silver hair well are usually in good shape and look younger than they really are. They seem to have great bone structure, good skin, an innate sense of style, and an attraction to bold jewelry and rich colors. Georgia O’Keeffe certainly comes to mind. These GenModern™ women are truly aspirational .

Our culture needs to start recognizing that gray hair isn’t just for depressed or financially worried older women (as it is usually shown in the media) – nor is it just for hipsters only a few years out of school.

The hair color industry aside, advertisers would win the appreciation of a lot of potential customers if they started to embrace sexy older women who are aging naturally and with style – and who are not afraid to break the rules.

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