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Elderly Blue-Haired Lady

"Now the goose is on the table,
And the pudding made of fig, ahh,
And the blue and silver candles
That would just have matched the hair in Grandma's wig."
Elmo & Patsy, "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer"

Grey hair has often been considered a sign of respectable old age. Unfortunately, not everyone becomes a Silver Fox with age: those with one or two MC1R variant alleles will instead find that their hair turns an ugly dirty yellow. Older women in the 1970s and earlier who wanted to be gracefully grey would therefore get their stylists to treat their yellowing hair with a blue rinse, which, with luck, would tone down the yellow and leave a silver grey. It didn't always work - not everyone's hair absorbs the same amount of dye - and many older women walked around with distressingly blue hair. This led to this trope and also to the phrase "the blue rinse set", used in the 70s and 80s to describe older women in general (and still used in British politics to describe old Tory women who don't think women should participate in politics and make sure that happens by taking control of local branches of the Conservative Party).

Not to be confused with the intensely blue hair of some anime women. Or men.

Examples

Film
  • The violent old lady in the Madagascar movies is codenamed 'Bluehair' by the penguins.
  • Alex's mother in A Clockwork Orange is shown with bluish-purplish hair. While audiences now might guess that she's a superannuated punk rocker, her color is an exaggerated blue rinse treatment.

Literature
  • In Amelia's Notebook, there is one occasion where the titular character zones out in the lunch line and almost mistakes an elderly cafeteria worker for one of her troll dolls due to her blue-tinted hair.
  • Aunt Beatrice from The 39 Clues.
  • By the end of Auntie Mame, the titular character's hair "which had all gone to gray, was rinsed to a delicate periwinkle blue". Her great-nephew notices this:
    She pressed her nose against Mike's and looked into his eyes. "I've never seen hair the color of yours, my little love. It's so red!"
    "I've never seen hair the color of yours, either," Mike said. "It's ... it's so blue!"
  • A story— title frustratingly forgotten— from a long-ago issue of Cricket magazine had a girl try to add a little bluing to her white horse for a show, and ending up with a blue horse. She then tries to cover it up with a chestnut-colored temp dye. Hilarity Ensues when it rains...

Live-Action TV
  • Dorothy from The Golden Girls isn't quite blue-haired, but she's close.
  • Mrs. Slocombe from Are You Being Served? often dyed her hair some odd color nearly every episode. Usually, it was blue.
  • Phyllis Pearce in Coronation Street.
  • Briefly, in an episode of iCarly, there was a green-haired old lady (who sucks on a baby pacifier).
  • Thelma Harper from Mamas Family, who was once even referred to as a "blue-haired old dragon" by her daughter-in-law.
  • Grandma Yetta from The Nanny. Taken beyond its logical extreme when Fran's other grandmother, Nettie, shows up with a pink rinse in her hair.
  • Conversed in Buffy the Vampire Slayer when Willow describes her future self as "old and blue-haired".
  • In Full House Joey is trying to hunt down a woman he met. One phone number leads him to an 80+ year old woman of the same name who apparently has blue hair.

Music
  • Referenced in "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" by Elmo & Patsy. In some recordings, at least.
  • In Ray Stevens' "A Little Blue-Haired Lady", the narrator is stuck behind one who is driving 20 MPH on the interstate.

Webcomics

Western Animation

Charlie Brown BaldnessHair ColorsMulticolored Hair
Elder AbuseEldersElderly Immortal
Creepy Blue EyesBlue TropesGreen is Blue
Are You Being Served?ImageSource/Live-Action TVArrested Development

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