Gray-haired models growing in popularity as baby boomers age

Cindy Joseph
Cindy JosephHeather Weston

Cindy Joseph has appeared in ads for Garnier, Nivea, Elizabeth Arden, and Aveda and in the catalogues of Macy’s, Bloomingdales, and Banana Republic. Her modeling career was launched 13 years ago when—in a typical cliché—she was stopped on a New York City street by a photographer asking whether she wanted to pose for Dolce & Gabbana.

But Joseph was 48 at the time and, having just lopped off the last of her dyed brown locks, was sporting a head full of silver hair. “Don’t call it gray,” she said in a phone interview. “I prefer silver since it’s valuable; it’s a beautiful badge of age.”

Indeed. Joseph, now 61, has made me rethink my own compulsive tendency to touch up my gray roots every six weeks. I like being told I look younger than my 41 years, and white—uh, silver—hair would be a dead giveaway.

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“Age gets such a bad wrap,” said Joseph. “Women are smarter, wiser, and more confident as they confront menopause, but we still want to look like we’re in our childbearing years. Why?”

That’s a question a lot of baby boomers are asking as they shun clothes and products marketed to 20-somethings. Many want to see more glamourous versions of themselves in clothing, cosmetics, and jewelry ads, and manufacturers are beginning to comply.

That’s the reason Joseph gets so many gigs—though I still couldn’t find too many silver-haired models on the websites of Chico’s, Ann Taylor, and Eileen Fisher. Talbots had one, and American Apparel just announced this month that it is hiring a “seasoned” model named Jacky, who has frown lines and loose neck skin, as the face of its new ad campaign.

“There was something so compelling about Jacky’s look and energy when we spotted her in a New York restaurant this winter that we introduced ourselves and pulled up a chair,” said the company on its Facebook page.

Joseph said she’s trying to start a “pro-age” revolution where women—heck, men too—take pride in the year printed on their driver’s license. She’d like to see an end to age denial and even recently launched her own makeup line named Boom! for baby boomers. “I’ve never had Botox, never had plastic surgery,” she said. “If I was ever tempted, I’d spend the money on a psychiatrist instead.”

What do you think? Would you like to see more seasoned models appearing in clothing and cosmetics ads? Answer the poll below.

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