Remember just a few short years back when supermodels who had likely never heard of Marie Antoinette Syndrome were dying their hair grey?
The internet was ablaze with opinions around gorgeous young models in their 20s with ash-grey hair. Does it make them look older? Is it super cool? Are they making fun of old people?
Why would anyone choose to have grey hair? The question would certainly puzzle Marie Antoinette, who allegedly had her hair go grey over two days of intense stress.
What Is Marie Antoinette Syndrome
Marie Antoinette Syndrome occurs when your hair turns white or grey almost overnight. It comes from the story of when French revolutionaries captured the fleeing King Louis XVI. Marie Antoinette was the queen of France, and knew that she was next in line to be captured and killed.
She was also given a timeline of “twice days”. During what was likely the most painful and stressful two days of her life, she experienced a physical transformation that was quite distinct.
When she was finally brought to her execution, the story goes, her hair had turned from her regular blonde to all grey.
Is Marie Antoinette Syndrome Real?
There are a couple of famous examples of Marie Antoinette Syndrome.
First, of course, was Marie Antoinette herself. There are also stories of survivors of war and intense trauma who experience a sudden change in the colour of their hair.
More recently, an Olympian and Paralympian named Oscar Pistorius exhibited symptoms of Marie Antoinette Syndrome. He sadly killed his partner on Valentines day in 2013. He allegedly mistook her for an intruder in his home, and shot her through a bathroom door.
When he was in court later, he had round patches of grey hair appearing on his head. Some of the hair was falling out. However, it was quite obvious to the people who knew him that his hair was very suddenly turning grey while he was under the scrutiny of his legal proceedings.
Almost Crashed = Hair Turned White
In 1982, there was a British Air Captain named Eric Moody. With 239 passengers on his plane, he was flying over an Indonesian island. All of a sudden, a volcano just happened to erupt, casting volcanic ash into the air. It obliterated the engines, and rendered the plane totally broken. Miraculously, Eric Moody managed to land the plane with no harm done.
However, six months later, Captain Moody reported that a large portion of his hair had turned white.
Because of this, these accounts indicate that Marie Antoinette Syndrome is very real. But critics may disagree.
Why Does Marie Antoinette Syndrome Turn Your Hair White?
Marie Antoinette Syndrome is said to be caused by short periods of intense stress. The phenomenon however is not well understood by science or research. Some say that it’s caused by the alternation of capillaries reacting to high amounts of stress.
The condition seems to occur when the stressful events in one’s life are just right. A genetic component also seems to be common.
Cases of people in their 20s have been reported, where they’ve seen or experienced something that shocks them, and their hair turns white in a very short period of time. There have not, however, been opportunities to observe or study the condition.
Many also believe that the syndrome, also known as canities subita is not as much your hair turning white, but perhaps pigmented hair falling out from stress. Because of this, the hair that falls out reveals white hair that was already there.