The Golden Globes this year were heavy into gender equality and making a statement about women's rights. From actresses and actors walking the red carpet wearing black in solidarity with the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, to some actresses pivoting interview questions to equal pay issues and activists' work, to other actresses bringing women's rights activists as their guests to the show, the show was one big statement. With this momentum of women standing up and saying "time's up" to the sexist framework they have to navigate their lives and careers through, one actress's hair choice stood out in particular because of the night's frank, anti-sexist theme. Jessica Biel's gray roots at the Golden Globes seemed like another punctuation mark to the underlying message involved.
In an industry that notoriously retires women decades before it retires men, there's a lot of pressure to hide and reverse signs of aging if you want to keep getting scripts sent to your door. And, of course, this isn't just the case for people in Hollywood. Men have enjoyed the permission to age gracefully for decades if not centuries, where their crow's feet and salt-and-pepper hair is seen as attractive. Whereas, on the flip-side, women are pressured to keep their age a secret if they don't want to diminish in their worth. Meryl Streep herself said she saw an instant shift with what kinds of roles she was offered after turning 40, where all of them were witches. And not the slinky and slithery kind, but the ones that appeared at your window with warts on their noses and cackling.
So when Biel showed up to the red carpet with her makeup done, her hair swept back into a classic, Old-Hollywood bun, and her gray hairs glinting at her roots, it was a pretty rad move. Rather than freaking out that silver poked through her side part, she embraced it in the nonchalant, no-big-deal kind of way older male actors have had the option to for decades. Even more so, knowing how her industry works when it comes to youth, it was a pretty brave and aggressive move.
Not only do men get 60 to 70 percent of the leading roles in Hollywood, that statistic only gets worse when a woman's age is factored in. After the age of 40, men get 80 percent of the leading roles, while women only get 20 percent. Showing gray hair can quite literally be a career killer.
Threading through her swept back fringe and across the top of her head, Biel's gray hair unapologetically glinted white in pictures. And of course, Biel might have not done it to send a message but simply did it because she liked the look of them, or didn't see them as a problem that she had to cover, regardless of the statistics. But seeing how stars go through haircuts, dye jobs, spa appointments, and makeup chairs to get ready for the big night, it's pretty cool to assume she asked for her roots not to be messed with. Especially since other women watching at home can see her embrace her silver hair with confidence, and might question themselves why they feel embarrassed showing that they age. Sometimes it takes seeing another confident woman embrace what you feel insecure or stressed about, in order to give you permission to accept it yourself.
That's not to say coloring your hair is a sign of insecurity or is anti-feminist. If you like covering up your grays, have at it. The point is that you do it because you like it, and not because you feel like you have to or else you will be judged. And we have Biel to thank for highlighting that on the red carpet.