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.
Can you imagine viewers freaking out about a man with gray hair?
CNN’s Anderson Cooper?
CNN’s John King?
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.
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.