Embrace your natural grey, unless of course you’re a female newscaster or politician

Ask hair stylists anywhere and they’ll confirm it: during the pandemic, many, many – many – women made the brave decision to let their hair assume its natural colour.  Finding themselves without access to their hair stylists for months at the beginning of the pandemic, they looked in the mirror as their hair grew and their dye jobs retreated, and decided that maybe going grey wasn’t so bad after all. It didn’t look as bad as they had feared, in fact, it didn’t look so bad at all. And going natural – going grey – brought a surprising sense of freedom.  No more worrying about roots showing.  No more touch-up appointments every few weeks. Embrace your grey.

But it comes with certain risks, as we’ve discovered in Canada this past week. At least if you’re a woman reporting to a man who’s embraced his newly expanded sense of power. Compared to wars, droughts, floods, wildfires, gun massacres, and starvation, this news story doesn’t rate at the top of the list, but it has resonated with hundreds of thousands of Canadians, especially the female of the species.

To bring those of you not glued to esoteric, non-hockey related Canadian news up to speed, it was suddenly announced last week that Lisa LaFlamme, the popular, award-winning, 11-year veteran of CTV’s National News evening program had been terminated “for business reasons”.  The big guns wanted to move in “different directions” and would be replacing Lisa immediately with a younger male colleague, in the same timeslot with the same world news to cover. Two years before the end of her current contract. To address “changing viewer habits.”  For those of you who wouldn’t know, CTV is wholly owned by Bell Media, a giant in the communications industry. It turns out that even the big boys can screw up, especially with their communications.

To fill in some details, Lisa LaFlamme is 58 years old, had been with CTV for 35 years, and had been the presence of CTV’s major daily news program for 11 years, where she has been acclaimed for her work and professionalism. Hers has been the most popular news program in Canada, by far, for several years. She had just won the Canadian Screen Award for best national news anchor.  Then, seven months ago, a new CEO arrived to oversee all CTV news. And here is where it gets muddy very quickly for Bell’s so-called communications savvy. This new CEO, 40-something Michael Melling, was quoted as asking very early on in his tenure in January, “who approved the decision to let Lisa’s hair go grey?” I know, what the …?  Are there more people like this, with similar (lack of) depth of character, making gobs of money and making decisions that affect all of us? OMG.

Lisa before going greyLisa-brownLisa after going grey Lisa-Grey

To be clear, Lisa’s move to grey was a public topic of conversation early into the pandemic, initiated by Lisa herself on air.  She said what so many of us felt, me included, that if she’d known how freeing it would be to go grey she would have done it long before the pandemic.  She got a lot of kudos for that. A lot. But apparently not from the 40-something Michael Melling. She was fired for being comfortable with her age and undoubtedly also for not agreeing with every decision he made and vice versa. Apparently Mr. Melling doesn’t like pushback from women. But in treating a highly respected national figure so poorly, and by being caught so badly out of touch with what the fallout from blindsiding both Lisa and her very large audience across the country would be, Michael Melling and Bell Media have caused themselves a lot of grief. That’s the only good thing to come out of this. To date, more than 150,000 have signed online petitions for her reinstatement! And many people are actually changing their telco provider from Bell to Rogers or Telus. I love it. I can’t do that because we already switched from Bell several years ago, which, incidentally, was a very good move.

This business about the grey hair – and his mind-boggling question – made me stop and think about this issue. Talk about a double standard. In Canada alone, we’ve had primetime newscasters who’ve gone from 40-somethings to grandfatherly, and nobody ever said a thing. All men, of course. No-one mentioned that their hair had turned grey or that their hair had gone missing. And they retired when they decided to. Lisa LaFlamme’s predecessor, Lloyd Robertson, didn’t retire until he was 77.  And he sure as heck didn’t dye his hair. And on CBC, Peter Mansbridge (sometimes referred to as Pastor Peter), stayed on until he made his own decision to leave at 69, hair or no hair, not when CBC kicked him out to go in a “different direction”.

Lisa’s predecessor, Lloyd Robertson, happily grey on air for many yearsLisa-Lloyd

CBC’s Peter Mansbridge, happily accepted in all stages of aging hairLisa-PeterAll 

This situation got me thinking about politicians. I can think of quite a few female politicians who are up there in years, in fact way up there in years. And they all dye their hair. I have often thought that they’d actually look better if they just forgot about the dye, but now I can see that they were more savvy than I am.  They know the lay of the land. If they let themselves go grey, would that change the response in the voting booth? Sadly, I’m now thinking that maybe it would.

For example, let’s try to picture Nancy Pelosi or Dianne Feinstein embracing their grey? Would that change in physical appearance have a negative impact on their perceived authority?  Just maybe, given expectations. It wouldn’t change one thing about them except to give them a little more time to do even more work instead of sitting for their stylist, but old notions die hard.

Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein, 2 powerful American female politicians, both in their 80sLisa-NancyAndDianne 

What about Mitch McConnell?  Would he have any further advantages by dying his hair instead of having allowed himself to go grey all those years ago?  Is how he looks less of a measure of his abilities than is the case for a woman? Sorry, but I’m guessing that how he looks can’t possibly have any bearing whatsoever on what people think of him.

Mitch McConnell, 80, and Donald Trump, 75, 2 powerful American male politicians Lisa-TrumpMcConnell

What about Donald Trump? He does dye his hair … and his skin. Does that give him even more appeal to Trump-lovers, or does it just help him pretend that he’s not really nearly 76 years old? And I almost forgot, there’s 78-year old Rudy Giuliani. I wonder how that hair dye’s working for him these days?!

Can we think of any men in public positions or working as CEOs or newscasters who dye their hair, other than Trump and Giuliani (and Dick Clark in his later years)?  Can we think of any women in public positions or working as CEOs or newscasters who don’t dye their hair? Think about it.

The cries of ageism and sexism are now rampant across Canada, thanks to Bell’s unbelievably poorly conceived firing of a highly-regarded female newscaster on what has been until now Canada’s most highly rated newscast. Why exactly was this 40-something wunderkind, Michael Melling, given this power?  If he keeps his job, which would be a travesty, then Bell shares should fall even more than they already have.  Way to go, Bell.

Let’s hope that some good comes from this example of the double standard. Perhaps one way to protest is for every woman at Bell who’s currently “touching up” their hair colour to go grey! They can’t fire everyone … or can they? 🙂

As for me, I’ve happily followed the same liberating pandemic move that Lisa did, embracing the grey.


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54 Responses to Embrace your natural grey, unless of course you’re a female newscaster or politician

  1. What the heck! It is way past time to jettison such a out of date double standards. Lisa looks smashing with her grey hair. And so do you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jofedorchuk says:

    Brilliant, Jane!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. TWF says:

    Wow, Lisa’s hair looks great–and so does yours.

    My mom is eightyish. She has a big grayish stripe in the front—then the rest of her hair is a muddy brown. I think this is going to be how I end up graying. Most of the grays are around my face.

    I haven’t had the guts to stop coloring yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. LA says:

    💗go for it!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I grew up with Barbara Bush and her gray hair controversy and admired her for not dying her hair. I have very fine hair and the dermatologist felt hair dye might be part of the problem of my thinning hair, so I also stopped dying in 2018. Having healthy, soft, hair is so much more attractive to me than dry ends!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Ah, Barbara Bush, now there’s a fine example of a woman of grace and self-confidence. It sounds like you made an excellent decision. The main thing is that it’s each individual’s decision and comfort level, not because of societal pressure or especially because of your new young boss!

      Liked by 3 people

  6. Thank you for this Jane. I too stopped fighting the grey during the pandemic and will never go back to the battle. What a relief!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Margaret says:

    Double standards bah!! 🤬
    Makes me so angry. Whatever they do or don’t do women can’t do right by some, can they? Equally annoying are those criticising women who colour their hair at the same time as naming their hair colour as ‘platinum’ or ‘silver’ 😄 Celebrate the grey as you have done Jane – it looks fab by the way.
    As for me, I’ve been adding a red tinge colour to my hair for some years now and continue to colour it myself nowadays as it’s cheaper. Why? Because I like it! But when I top up the roots it’s the ‘grey’ I’m covering, not platinum or silver.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Make that a big-time Bah! And you raise a good point about giving marketing euphemisms to hair colours. Lol. The main thing is for us all to go with what we want because, as you say, we like it! Thanks, Margaret.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Peter J says:

    Grey is beautiful! It is hard to believe that job security based on looks is still a thing – we have such a long way to go. One question is, can people give up CTV in protest? We actually lost CTV when we moved out of the city. CTV’s airwaves transmitter does not reach much of NB so an antenna does not work. One can stream CTV, but only if one subscribes to a cable provider so that is out for rural areas. I guess we have been protesting for 6 months now – join us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jane Fritz says:

      And you’ve got excellent example of that in your partner-in-life! 😊 That is fascinating news about not being able to get CTV in our rural areas. 😳 Can you get their competition, CBC? Yet another reason to protest against Bell Media. P.S. More importantly, can you get UNB’s hockey games on TV in your area?!!


  9. Ah-ha, a wonderful ending! Nice to see the author herself, in her distinguished grays to boot. 🙂 I followed this story a bit about Ms. LaFlamme, and it’s such a predictable response from Mr. Melling. That he couldn’t have seen the outcry coming ahead of time shows how high his own level of chauvinism and entitlement is.

    Somewhat off topic, re: Nancy Pelosi. My wife and I both noticed during the coverage of her recent visit to Taiwan, with how unsteady she looked while wearing those high heel shoes on the airport tarmac. We were worried she was going to take a tumble!

    BTW: Love the “… non-hockey related Canadian news …” aside. 😉 – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jane Fritz says:

      You got his number quickly, Marty. Chauvinism and entitlement at its best. It’s at least good to see him getting called out on it. Re Pelosi, knowing my energy levels some years junior to her, Feinstein, McConnell, Biden, I do marvel at their energy levels … and can’t help but wonder. Those crazy high heels that are in vogue are even dangerous for young women. When will we ever learn?! And, btw, I’m impressed that you had seen this news story! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I love going grey…it’s just not happening fast enough for me. So I play with temporary colours while I wait for the rest of my head to catch up with the white stuff framing my face.
    I think Lisa LaFlamme looks better with her silver locks, but then I’m not a member of the patriarchy who only sees women’s value in their perceived fertility (as advertised by “youthful” hair colour). 🤷‍♀️


    Liked by 1 person

    • Jane Fritz says:

      It sounds like you have found a way to put some fun into this transition, Deb. You’ve got it right about the views of certain members of the patriarchy! The sooner they become yesterday’s news the better.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Nothing like shoe-polish black hair to age a woman 20 years! Grey is nature’s way of softening our beauty. Embrace it, I say! I did, back when I was in my mid 40’s. It was a fabulous gift that gave myself and I’ve never regretted it. Your grey hair looks lovely on you!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Wynne Leon says:

    Jane – your grey is stunning!! Love this post and the incredible job you do, as always, of presenting a topic so thoroughly with examples. I hadn’t heard this story – but I love the pushback that Bell is getting for ousting Lisa. Good grief!! When will we grow out of these double standards? I don’t know – but I do know that thoughtful posts help to make it happen!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. The double standard is alive and well. Shameful. Lisa and you look amazing! 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Reblogged this on Musings and Wonderings and commented:
    It is amazing that we can still have dinosaurs like this man in positions of power.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. As one long time grey hair to another, well said,
    and I love your feisty expression!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jane Fritz says:

      You were the leader of the pack, Jill, pre-pandemic. The big question in my mind is why is a 40-something male with such an appalling attitude given such responsibility/power by Bell Media. For shame.


  16. Bernie says:

    I started going grey at 29 and have never once colored it. I can tell you first hand it changes people’s perception of you. Hard to get service in stores. In Europe they all switch to English when I approach as I never noticed a SINGLE grey haired woman over there. Life is far too short ( to say nothing of the environmental impact and the cost) to dye your hair for years. We aren’t Bell people but I would say this 40 something dude shot himself in the foot. Bernie

    Oh and its nice to see your smiling face– no matter the hair colour!

    Selfie game isn’t strong but yeah to woman of all ages rocking grey hair!


  17. I absolutely love your hair!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jane Fritz says:

      😊 And I love yours! On another topic, it dawned on me that farming is an excellent metaphor for life. Maybe I should write a blog post explaining why! I hope your drought conditions have lessened.


  18. Rose says:

    It saddens me that there’s such judgmental connotations to hair colors and styles. I started going gray in my 30’s and colored for a few years. But I gave up coloring about 8 years ago, it was such a waste of time and expense. I’m not completely gray but I have a lot. People have told me they love my ‘highlights’. While attending a wedding one time, a drunk guy kept bellowing at me, “your hair don’t match your face” – he thought he was complimenting my face? I get comments from some who “wish they were as brave as me”. A lady at the DMV made a loud announcement about my gray hair – telling everyone in earshot that “gray hair can be beautiful, just look at her”…
    I think everyone is entitled to have the hairstyle they like – colored or not, long or short. Hairstyles have nothing to do with a person’s character, talent, abilities… I love the more unique, individual styles.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I was appalled when Lisa was let go, and yeah, I let me hair turn to grey when the pandemic began. I was inspired because I saw a number of high-profile women on TV who’d stopped colouring their hair. No regrets at all. And yes, Michael Melling should definitely be fired for his disgusting attitude. And who’s the idiot who hired him in the first place?

    Liked by 1 person

  20. dfolstad58 says:

    I felt like I was listening to thoughtful narrator in this post. Informative and with a touch of humor (thank you Rudy! and the Orange menace). I definitely think a double standard exists – in movies men continued to be leading stars despite years catching up to them even the ones not as suave as Cary Grant. Peter Mansbridge though, like Walter Cronkite are in a class of their own IMHO. On the home front even “she who must be obeyed” – my dear wifey has cut her hair shorter and embraced the grey to feel freedom and overwhelming support. She loves it! – Thanks Jane for another 5 Star post.- David

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Roy McCarthy says:

    Staggering, and astonishing how some dinosaurs climb through the ranks of certain corporations. Indeed a friend of mine, way before the pandemic, agonised long before letting her grey grow through. She’s now delighted with that decision and has invested the hairdresser money in gym memberships.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Jane! I found your blog again! Yay! This was a great topic. By the way, Your hair looks fabulous. So many of my friends let their gray grow out during the pandemic. And they are delighted that they did. I only had a few gray strands before chemo but it grew back gray. And I’m happy with it. I’ve been on a cancer maintenance program and I’m just thrilled I have hair. Gray or any color is fine with me.

    Sadly, my cancer has returned and depending on if they can stabilize my cancer antigen numbers, then I’ll have to return to aggressive chemo once again. And that means I’ll lose my gray locks. What I’ve learned is that having any hair at all is really a wonderful gift. But being alive is more important than having hair. So… if I have to lose it again I will most likely cry, because I like my hair. But in the scope of life my hair is irrelevant. I still have my bag of pretty colored scarves and caps that will do just fine.

    It is maddening to think that in 2022 people are still so shallow that they’ll fire a woman because she started to age and her hair turned gray. Double standards are ridiculous. It’s like watching a movie and the male protagonist is 68 while his female love interest is 25 or 30. It’s absurd. ( (It can happen now and then but it’s tiring to see it constantly in films).

    So happy to see your blog again!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Hi Lesley! It’s great to see you here again, but truly upsetting to learn that the cancer has returned. Gosh, I hope you can avoid another round of aggressive chemo. 🙏🙏 But you are right; better to have hair, regardless of color, but better to be alive and looking towards a healthy future than have hair. 😘


  23. Jean says:

    I like the last photo the best! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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