By E. Hoffman
Women of all ages are embracing their silver streaks and showing off the badge of aging proudly. True, blondes may have more fun, but gray gals have it made in the shade. Gray is no longer old or aged. It’s debonair, dignified, and downright sexy.
The fact that it’s suddenly trendy is a good thing for aging. Celebrities like Lady Gaga, Helen Mirren, Rihanna, Judy Collins and Rita Moreno have also chosen silver strands. Headlines are no longer referring to gray a word generally associated with dullness, dreariness, sadness, and gloom. It’s become a fashion statement.
We salute women of all ages who have welcomed their gray tresses! Here, some New York women who are embracing the course of nature—gracefully!
JAMIE deROY, 70s
Caberet Performer/Actress/Broadway Producer
Jamie deRoy first noticed a few strands of gray at age 18 and was completely salt and pepper by 35. “I had an agent who told me I wouldn’t get any commercial work with silver streaks in my hair so I dyed it and my hair turned green!” She then dyed it again and was left with red and brown highlights. “It took me literally 30 times to wash out the color,” deRoy said.
After the mishap and on the advice of another agent, deRoy let her hair grow all silver. The look has paid off mightily for her. She is a six-time Tony Award-winning producer; cabaret, stage, film and TV performer; recording artist and humanitarian. She has produced scores of Broadway and off-Broadway shows. Her Jamie deRoy & friends cabaret series has been attracting New York audiences for 28-years.
What are her thoughts on today’s silver hair trend, especially among young women? “I think it’s fun,” deRoy said. “I wish it happened years ago!”
MELISSA MALEBRANCHE, 40s
Donor Relations Manager/NYU’s School of Professional Studies
Melissa Malebranche started graying at age 17. She didn’t let her hair grow all out until three years ago at age 41. “I tried to hide it for years,” she said. Malebranche became a blonde so her hair would blend in with the gray. “I have grown to love my silver hair, but I don’t think I ever would have colored it gray on purpose,” she said. “Letting my silver hair shine through has been an exercise in acceptance.” For Malebranche, a Silver Belle “is a woman who has completely accepted who she is and loving the reflection in the mirror.”
NANCY OZELLI, 60s
Nancy Ozelli attributes her success as a model to her gray hair. “When I think of a Silver Belle, I visualize the belle of the ball,” she said. “That’s how I feel on a good hair day,” Ozelli noticed her first gray hair in her early teens. Gray hair also happened at an early age for her father who had a full head by his early 20s. After trying many different hair colors over the years, Ozelli let her gray hair grow out when she was in her late 20s. “My blonde mother was unhappy that I let my hair go natural,” Ozelli noted. “She thought having a gray-haired daughter aged her.”
Ozelli is pleased that women today realize silver hair is attractive. “Perhaps they noticed a Silver Belle and were inspired by her,” she said. “I like that!”
MICHELLE GOLDEN, 30s
Public Relations/Text 100 Co.
Michelle Golden has had silver strands since elementary school. By high school, she had concentrated patches if she flipped her hair to one side. “I had full silver roots when I was in my mid-to-late 20s,” she said. Golden was dyeing her roots every few weeks to keep her original dark brown color. Two years ago, she let her hair grow out naturally. “It was a stark contrast and a transition,” she said.
It was the trend amongst young girls to go silver that was the motivating factor for Golden. “It gave me the push to let my silver hair grow out,” she said. “I was apprehensive. But seeing young faces desire silver hair allowed me to let go and give in to my natural color.” Golden gets compliments on her gray hair practically every day. “The question I get most often is ‘where do you get your hair done?’ People are shocked to hear it’s my natural color.”
To Golden, the term, Silver Belle, sounds “delicate and pure.” She has not been called it, but she has been referred to as a Silver Fox many times.