Did you hear about the male news anchor who let his hair go gray?

Admittedly, I’m becoming a little obsessed with this hair issue, but I started thinking about a local newscaster here in San Francisco, Dana King. I remembered reading a story about her last year on SFGate (a site I used to blog for.)

When King let her hair go gray, she was flooded with email. So much so that she had to go air, assuring viewers that her health was fine; she’d just made a decision to stop dying her hair.

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Can you imagine viewers freaking out about a man with gray hair?

CNN’s Anderson Cooper?

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CNN’s John King?

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Those are just the first two who pop into my head. I bet on your local news, you’ve probably got co-anchors: a man with gray hair and a woman who is twenty years younger than he is, or trying to look twenty years younger so that she won’t get fired from her job.

When I was a producer for KGO Radio, one of the hosts there, Christine Craft, had been fired years earlier from a TV station for being too ugly and too old. At the time of her dismissal, Craft was 37 years old. She filed a lawsuit for gender and age discrimination. She lost the suit. She wrote a book about her experience and went on to became a lawyer. And, of course, a host on radio.

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It is all so fucked up because obviously women are obsessed with their looks. It’s not because women are vain or superficial or born with some girl-vanity gene; women are trying to survive in the world. And what is even more fucked up is that “beauty” has nothing to do with beauty.

Curious about Dana King, today I Googled her. I  found out that just last week, she announced she was leaving her post on TV to work on art full time. Here is what she said to The Huffington Post:

 

“I’ve reported stories from all over the world and yet I got more email reaction for going gray than anything else over my entire career,” King said Wednesday. “And looking back, that might have been the beginning of a huge shift for me — a move to really start following my heart.”

Earlier this year, King moved across the bay to Oakland, purchasing a home and work compound that she shares with several other artists. She bemoaned the fact that when it came time to leave for the station, she would be forced to leave behind her sculpting and “clean the crud out of her hair and fingernails.”

 

Maybe the patriarchy is right. If women are allowed to let their hair go gray or “ethnic,” if fat anchors are allowed to defend themselves on TV and still be beautiful, who knows what womenfolk might do? Follow their passions, become artists? All hell would break loose, no doubt.

6 thoughts on “Did you hear about the male news anchor who let his hair go gray?

  1. I stopped dying my hair and generally wearing make-up when my daughter was old enough to ask me why I was doing it. I couldn’t come up with an answer that was honest and healthy for my (and her) self image: so I look prettier, so I look younger, to cover up this part of my skin. . . She is 5 now and we say my hair is getting sparklier. :-)
    Granted, I am a sahm. In my community at least, there are still abundant societal pressures to “beautify” yourself, even if it’s just to drop your child off at school and go to the store. I’m not sure how I would feel if I were in the work force, where I presume those pressures are even stronger.

  2. I always like to think I’m going to go grey naturally. Then again, I’m in my twenties, so what do I know about societal pressures to dye? My pet theory about the pressure on women to continue looking young is that women are meant to look ‘sexy’, regardless of what they’re actually doing, and you’re not sexy if you’re obviously past childbearing age (though I think Dana King is gorgeous).

    • Hi Nicola,

      For me “sexy” is more open than “beautiful” and gray hair is totally sexy in men and women (and beautiful too). As I wrote, I dyed for a couple years and love my natural hair even more now.

      MM

  3. I don’t see it as a big deal for women deciding not to dye their hair anymore. Going gray is just a normal part of aging.

    And I don’t see how Christine Craft could be called ugly. She is pretty. Honestly, what is wrong with people?

    • Hi CherokeeWriter,

      Unfortunately, it is a big deal, more than ever. Almost every professional woman, “feminist” or not, dyes her hair. There is so much ageism and sexism in the professional world. If you are a woman who is self employed, you are more likely not to dye your hair. I posted on this when I stopped dyeing my hair before I turned 43. I started at 40 b/c I had a little gray and thought, “I’m not ready to go gray!” But the issue is I have really dark hair and the dye always faded after about 2 weeks so I was redyeing to get back to the dark color. And then I was like, “Fuck it. I love the color of my hair. Why am I dyeing it?” And then I thought, “What’s wrong with silver?” I think silver is pretty. It scares people b/c it means age which means death. Andrew Weil, the doctor, wrote about this and I put his quotes in my blog. But also, I stopped dyeing my hair when I started writing full time i.e. self-employed. Coincidence?

      MM

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