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Just the Numbers: Attitudes on Aging Across the US

Published November 19, 2023
Published November 19, 2023
Leire Cavia via Unsplash

From William J. Kole unpacking the new world of super-aging to Csaba Lucas’ active anti-aging approach and Claire Bryne’s declaration of anti anti-aging, there are certainly a variety of pathways into the subject of our own maturing.

Online professional beauty and wellness destination StyleSeat surveyed over 2,000 US citizens ages 18 to 76 to hear their perspectives on getting older. Of the surveyed participants, 49% were female, 49% male, and 2% nonbinary. While the survey was open to all, the following states were not included due to insufficient data: Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming. All other states were allocated an age-embracing score out of 100. 

Participants were questioned about their general attitudes towards aging, the concept of ageless beauty, aging skin, and graying hair. Here the findings:

Gender Differences

It could be argued that the unequal reception of aging in society overall—where a man is a “silver fox” while a woman is “over the hill” and heavier emphasis of beauty as cultural capital lies with the female population—could be partly responsible for different attitudes towards aging between genders. The study highlighted the following discrepancies.

Aging/Appearance Changes 

  • 63% of people overall were receptive to the idea of aging and changes in appearance.
  • 70% of men are comfortable with aging. 
  • 57% of women are comfortable with aging.

Beauty in Aging

  • 81% of women acknowledge the beauty in older individuals.
  • 65% of men share this sentiment.

Gray Hair

  • 54% of men embrace gray hair.
  • 25% of women embrace gray hair.

Youthful Hairdos

  • 1 in 5 overall alter their hairstyle to appear younger.
  • 24% of women choose these hairstyles.
  • 17% of men choose them.

Flaunting Natural Skin

  • 73% of men don’t cover the signs of aging.
  • 35% of women let their aging skin show.

Age-Fluid Fashions

  • 27% of women approve of wearing “younger” styles of dress regardless of age.
  • 12% of men accept this.

Embracing Aging Across States

The states showing the most positive attitude towards aging were predominantly located in the central and mideastern parts of the county, while coastal states (especially those on the East Coast) were more likely to have a negative take.

Age Acceptance – Highest Ranking Score out of 100

  • Iowa – 91.4
  • Georgia – 90.83
  • Indiana – 90.19
  • Minnesota – 89.88
  • Kansas – 89.23

Age Acceptance – Lowest Ranking

  • Michigan – 75.65
  • Maine – 79.56
  • Alabama – 79.77
  • Florida – 80.19
  • Nevada – 80.33

Gray Hair and Aging Skin Across States

Beyond personal beliefs, the study dove into the follicular and dermatological changes that accompany the passing of time. Unsurprisingly, the states with lower rates of age acceptance, such as Michigan and Florida, also reported higher rates of cosmetic procedures. When it came to the highest and lowest ranking states, the following percentages came to light.

Gray Hair Acceptance – Highest Ranking

  • Virginia – 53.2%
  • South Carolina – 52.1%
  • Georgia – 49%
  • Pennsylvania – 47.1%
  • Iowa – 46.8%

Gray Hair Acceptance – Lowest Ranking

  • Michigan – 22%
  • Ohio – 30%
  • Nevada – 30%
  • New Jersey – 30.6%
  • California – 32%

Aging Skin Acceptance – Highest Ranking

  • Iowa – 70.2%
  • Colorado – 66%
  • Kentucky – 63.3%
  • Washington – 62.7%
  • Tennessee – 61.5%

Aging Skin – Lowest Ranking

  • Illinois – 42.3%
  • Ohio – 44%
  • Virginia – 44.7%
  • West Virginia -–46%
  • Utah – 46%

Ageless Beauty Across Generations

When it comes to the idea of beauty not fading with time, the younger the generation, the more likely they were to hold this belief. 

  • 73% of surveyed participants overall agree that beauty is ageless.
  • 84% of Gen Zers agree.
  • 73% of millennials agree.
  • 72% of Gen Xers agree.
  • 67% of boomers agree.

These numbers were reversed when it came to altering the hair’s appearance through dying the hair gray.

  • Approximately 10% overall have dyed their hair gray as a style choice.
  • 12% of boomers have dyed their hair gray.
  • 10% of Gen X have dyed their hair gray.
  • 7% of millennials and Gen Z have dyed their hair gray.

Embracing Natural Skin

  • 68% of boomers don’t cover up their wrinkles or dark spots with makeup.
  • 62% of Gen X opt to go makeup-free.
  • 53% of millennials and 22% of Gen Z do the same.

“Grandmacore” Fashion

  • 1 in 6 overall opt for this aesthetic consisting of chunky sweaters, patchwork patterns, and loafer shoes.
  • 89% of Gen Z enjoy the style.
  • 84% of millennials embrace “grandmacore.”
  • 82% of boomers embrace this aesthetic.
  • 78% of Gen X dress in this way.

Seniors Wearing “Younger” Fashions

  • 1 in 8 overall believe it’s weird for older individuals to sport “younger” fashions.
  • 34% of Gen Z accept older people wearing these styles.
  • 19% of both millennials and Gen X are accepting around this notion.
  • 14% of boomers accept it.

StyleSeat’s survey indicates not only the very clear divides between genders, with more age embracing among men than women, but also clear divides between generations, with those of younger ages being more accepting of the aging process and also more open to a diverse representation of what that aging may look like. Given the increasing acknowledgement of regional differences in beauty mindsets across the country, brands with anti-aging launches or activations might want to adapt their marketing strategies according to the location and age of their audience.


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