In a society that idolizes youth, growing older can feel like swimming against the tide. It’s no secret that many aging citizens feel inclined to hide their grays or cover up their dark spots with makeup. But we’ve also noticed a rising trend of folks embracing their silver strands and opting for a more natural look!
StyleSeat surveyed over 2,000 Americans on their perceptions and experiences with getting older. We found that in some corners of America, people are not just accepting but embracing the journey into their later years.
From redefining beauty standards with gray hair and wrinkles, to celebrating an evolving personal style, residents of certain states are rewriting the rules on aging. Read on to discover where in the U.S. the golden years are truly seen as golden.
- Iowa, Georgia, and Indiana are the states embracing aging the most.
- Michigan, Maine, and Alabama are the states most hesitant to embrace aging.
- When it comes to grays, 2 in 5 embrace them and forego dyes to cover them up.
- By not using makeup to cover signs of aging, 54% embrace their aging skin.
How We Measured Who Embraces Aging
The prospect of growing older and exhibiting signs of aging is a concept that carries varying degrees of acceptance across the U.S. population. Our survey revealed that 63% of Americans are receptive to the idea of aging and the changes it brings to their appearance.
However, a deeper look into the data shows that societal perceptions and pressures differ for men and women. Men, at 70%, seem more comfortable with the aging process than women, with only 57% of them embracing it. This disparity speaks volumes about the beauty standards women encounter, often emphasizing youthful looks over the natural aging process.
To capture these insights, our state-by-state survey posed a series of questions to respondents, such as: “If you have gray hair, do you dye it to cover it up?”; “Have you ever undergone cosmetic surgery to retain a youthful appearance?”; and “How do you feel about the idea of aging and looking older?”
Based on the responses to these queries, we allocated a score out of 100 for each state, offering a unique perspective on how regions differ in their attitudes towards aging.
The Most Age-Positive Individuals Live in Iowa
A significant 73% of Americans believe that older individuals possess beauty comparable to their younger counterparts. Breaking the results down demographically provides fascinating insights, as well. The younger Gen Z leads the charge with 84% believing that beauty is ageless, trailed closely by millennials (73%), Gen X (72%), and boomers at 67%.
Gender dynamics also play a role, as 81% of women acknowledge the beauty in older individuals, markedly higher than the 65% of men who share the sentiment.
When we scan across the U.S., Iowa stands out as a beacon for age-positivity. In fact, the top five age-embracing states emerge as Iowa, Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota, and Kansas.
In the Hawkeye state, with a score of 91.14, a strong 68% embrace the journey of aging, with 70% celebrating the beauty of aging skin.
Meanwhile, Georgia (90.83) stands out with its residents ranking 3rd out of 40 states for embracing gray hair (49%) and over half (53%) feeling positive about aging skin.
Indiana (90.19) has an open-minded stance with a significant 35% of its population comfortable seeing older individuals don youthful attire. Travel northwest, and only 12% of Minnesotans (89.88) opt for younger hairstyles, showing that they don’t feel the need to hide their age with youthful-looking coifs.
Finally, Kansas (89.23) takes the crown when it comes to age acceptance. A whopping 80% of people in this state express comfort with the idea of growing and looking older.
People in Michigan Are Least Likely to Embrace Aging
When it comes to embracing aging, not all states see eye to eye. Topping the list of those states least welcoming to their golden years is Michigan. Falling into the bottom five overall, Michigan, with a score of 75.65, is joined by Maine (79.56), Alabama (79.77), Florida (80.19), and Nevada (80.33).
Michigan’s hesitancy towards aging is evident in several aspects: only 22% of its residents are willing to embrace gray hair. Moreover, half (50%) of its population — just above Massachusetts — express reluctance at the idea of aging and looking older. And following closely behind Florida, Michigan has one of the highest rates of cosmetic procedures, indicating a collective pursuit of a youthful facade.
In Maine, 27% of residents opt for “younger” hairstyles, one of the highest percentages across states which significantly contributed to its overall lower score for embracing aging.
Alabama paints a mixed picture. Less than two-fifths (39%) of Alabamians are content with gray hair, and with just 51% feeling positive about aging skin, it occupies the 26th spot out of 40 states in this category.
The Sunshine State, Florida, boasts the highest number of residents who have undergone cosmetic procedures in a bid to retain their youthfulness. Furthermore, a mere 53% of Floridians report being comfortable with the aspect of aging and the appearance changes it brings.
Lastly, the glitz and glamor of Nevada might not extend to gray hair or aging skin. Only half (50%) of its residents appreciate the beauty of aging skin, and it ranks low (38/40) for accepting gray hair, with a modest 30% in agreement.
Gray Is Beautiful
The graying of hair, an undeniable symbol of the passage of time, is being embraced by a growing number of Americans. Two out of every five in the country who have gray hair choose not to hide behind hair dyes, letting their grays shine through.
However, a gender divide is evident: Men, at 54%, are more than twice as likely as women (25%) to celebrate their silver strands.
To appear younger, 1 in 5 Americans alters their hairstyle. Looking deeper into the gender specifics, 24% of women opt for these youthful hairdos compared to 17% of men, again spotlighting the gender-based beauty pressures.
In a surprising twist, nearly a tenth of Americans have intentionally dyed their hair gray as a style choice even before time could turn it that shade. Leading this trend are the boomers with 12%, followed closely by Gen X at 10%, while millennials and Gen Z are neck and neck at 7%.
Regionally, some states stand out for embracing gray hair. Virginia leads the pack at 53.2%, followed by South Carolina (52.1%), Georgia (49.0%), Pennsylvania (47.1%), and Iowa (46.8%).
Across generations and states, the acceptance of gray hair is an inspiring testament to changing perceptions about aging and beauty.
People in These States Welcome Their Aging Skin
Across the U.S., 54% of Americans choose authenticity over concealment, opting not to mask aging signs like wrinkles and dark spots with makeup. Boomers are at the forefront with 68% relishing their natural skin, trailed by Gen X (62%), millennials (53%), and Gen Z (22%).
A deeper look into gender dynamics reveals that men, at a striking 73%, are more than twice as likely as women (35%) to flaunt their aging skin. This difference once again sheds light on the oftentimes stringent beauty standards faced by women.
Regionally, the state championing natural skin is led by Iowa with a commendable 70.2%. Following closely are Colorado (66.0%), Kentucky (63.3%), Washington (62.7%), and Tennessee (61.5%).
Even Young People are Embracing “Older” Styles
In a delightful twist of fashion trends, the age-old adage, “what’s old is new again,” has never been truer. Nearly 1 in 6 Americans are leaning into the “grandmacore” aesthetic, draping themselves in cozy, chunky sweaters, intricate patchwork patterns, and classic loafers.
Spearheading this trend is Generation Z, with an overwhelming 89% decreeing that loafers are a timeless style suitable for all ages. Close on their loafer-style heels are millennials, (84%), boomers (82%), and Gen X (78%).
However, while the younger generation comfortably dons “older” styles, the reverse isn’t always met with the same acceptance. When older individuals sport what’s considered younger attire, 1 in 8 Americans raise an eyebrow, deeming it “weird.”
But, not all generations judge alike. Gen Z, once again leading the pack in open-mindedness, is the most accepting, with 34% giving a nod of approval to seniors sporting younger styles. This acceptance rate takes a dip with millennials and Gen X both at 19%, and boomers are the least appreciative at 14%.
Drawing from gender perspectives, women, with 27% in agreement, are considerably more accepting of age-fluid fashion than their male counterparts at 12%.
Comfort, however, remains a unanimous favorite, with a resounding 88% of Americans favoring it over fashion. This trend further cements the thought that as we cruise through life’s timeline, comfort becomes an ever-greater priority, merging the lines between age, style, and convenience.
Aging Is an Opportunity, Not an Obstacle
It’s refreshing to discover places where people welcome the wisdom and beauty that come with age. Embracing aging isn’t just a state of mind, it’s an art form practiced by age-positive individuals across the country.
From reinventing their look to expressing a newfound sense of style, these mavericks are making their golden years truly shine.
If you’re inspired to refresh your own look as you embrace your years, you can find a stylist to help you make a statement as timeless as you are. Because for you, aging can be more than just a number — it’s an opportunity to flourish.
On August 24 to 28, 2023, we surveyed 2,006 Americans about their perceptions and experiences with getting older. Respondents ranged in age from 18 to 76 years old and were 49% female, 49% male, and 2% nonbinary.
States excluded due to insufficient data: Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming.