Recently, thanks to a marathon of “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”, I watched commercials for an evening, and indeed, over the course of three hours, the only ones starring gray-haired women ended up with a rambling list of side effects ranging from bad rash till death.
“It’s not fair for women to be called ‘grandma’ or ‘old’ with natural hair,” said Mr. Martin, the colorist. “This is just propaganda and a myth that we have brought about ourselves.” As Ms. MacDowell, who is 63, sat in his chair, he said, the two discussed how her manager encouraged her to stick with her chemical brown shade.
“He was just worried she wouldn’t be hired for future jobs, not thinking about how beautiful she would look. I told her, ‘Be who you are when you’re not behind the camera,’ said Mr Martin. “I also told her, ‘If you get a part for a redhead, there are plenty of wigs they can put on you.'”
Of course, Mrs. MacDowell still has to pay the bills, including Mr. Martin’s. (His self-described rate is “expensive, and maybe three lines below.”) And even a great colorist can’t erase ageism and sexism.
When Ms. Tommy first started what would be a six-hour process with her colorist, Alfredo Ray, she also discussed the double standard. “For my male colleagues who direct, there’s no implication” of going gray, she said.
“Nobody stops thinking they’re cool or talented because they went gray. But this is something that people talked to me about. People were concerned.” In fact, one well-meaning person said to Ms. Tommy, “‘When you go gray, you just have to make sure you look cool every time you leave the house.'”