In their revolutionary 1956 advertisement for hair dye, Clairol asked,“Does she color her hair… or doesn’t she?” This effectively freed American women to look at the color of their hair as a choice rather than a natural commandment.
While hair dye was once a shameful secret designed to combat the dreaded ‘greys’, we now see twenty-somethings proudly sporting “granny hair,” illustrating just how fluid trends can be. Personality no longer remains a cherished treasure shown to a select few; merely walking down the street gives insight into all those around, whether it is due to their violet hair, eyebrow piercing, or misspelt tattoo. While some trends are welcomed into society, others, like tattoos and “unnatural hair,” have faced a bumpy transition into the mainstream recognition that they see today.
“Generations, like people, have distinct personalities,” according to the Pew Research Center’s data on millennials. “The teens and twenty-somethings who are currently making their passage into adulthood have begun to forge theirs: confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and open to change.”
As millennials exert a greater influence over what is accepted in society, it is clear that they have caused a shift in the tides which favors them, normalizing trends the previous generation saw as unprofessional or “wild.” As has remained a factor in the entire history of fashion, societal and cultural trends are also a large determiner of what is popular. As the feminist movement gained speed and women sought to defy the “pretty and quiet” backdrop position into which they were thrust, more women got tattoos and piercings or dyed their hair in “loud” colours as a direct statement – We are here, we exist and you will not ignore us anymore.
Despite rapidly increasing acceptance, not everyone sees changing trends as the form of self-expression that they were intended to be. Due to this, CAS junior Breanna Wilk has had some upsetting experiences.
“I originally started experimenting with tattoos when I was in the middle school with temporary and henna tattoos, but when I entered college, I finally took the actual plunge and got my first – a phoenix. Soon, it became a fun way to make my body into a canvas for the images and feelings I want to document forever. But I’ve gotten turned down for two retail jobs because of it, had guys tell me it makes me look “like a dyke” and had parents of friends think of me as a delinquent,” Wilk said.
But with social media like Instagram exposing millions to the potential for beauty in the trends as well as influential celebrities like P!nk, Travis Barker, Kylie Jenner and even Helen Mirren showcasing their own bright colors and body art, more men and women are getting swept into the tide of wild fashion. While some do it for variety, to take risks, to reinvent their identity, or just to further embrace themselves – no one can deny the empowerment that they feel as they take further control of their body.
Sanya Sareen is a contributing writer. Email her at email@example.com.