Hillary Clinton once said:
It’s been two weeks since the shocking news that longtime CTV News anchor Lisa LaFlamme was fired after 35 years with the network. It is not yet clear why she was let go.
However, in the aftermath of LaFlamme’s resignation, there were allegations that LaFlamme’s decision to allow her hair to go gray was questioned by management.
LaFlamme’s dismissal and allegations that a newsroom executive commented on her hair angered many. I signed an open letter condemning the dismissal.
Bell Media, which owns CTV, denies that LaFlamme’s dismissal had anything to do with her age or gray hair. The company said it was a “business decision” to terminate her contract with LaFlamme.
I have news… pic.twitter.com/lTe3Rs0kOA
— Lisa LaFlamme (@LisaLaFlamme_) August 15, 2022
In a post on LinkedIn, Bell CEO Mirko Bibic said: I am happy that it is not. ”
Amid the backlash over LaFlamme’s dismissal, Bell Media’s Vice President of News, Michael Melling, is on leave pending the outcome of a workplace review.
Whatever the reason for LaFlamme’s dismissal, the episode once again highlighted the gendered ageism that many women continue to face.
aging and gender
Unfortunately, this story is nothing new in the world of ageism. Ageism is a negative stereotype, prejudice, or discrimination against older people. Issues surrounding ageism continue to circulate in our society and mainstream media.
Age discrimination affects all older people, but women suffer the greatest discrimination. The standards of attractiveness in our consumer culture are defined by youthful traits and are constantly portrayed through the media.
The way women are judged by their looks compared to men is very different.
Consider the famous (and relatively new) term “dad bod”. A “dad’s body” is a male body type that is described as “soft and round”. The man found a partner and had children, suggesting he shouldn’t have to worry about maintaining a toned physique. Dad bodies have been celebrated because men like Leonardo DiCaprio have made them popular.
Where is the female equivalent? Do you have a maternal body? Of course there is, but her mother is usually an older woman who has “give herself away” and is no longer desirable.
This gendered ageism is especially noticeable when it comes to physical appearance. The unrealistic pressures and expectations placed on women regarding their beauty and youthfulness are part of the growing importance of aesthetic values in society.
These values have influenced the idea that a woman’s gray hair creates one of the most undesirable personas in Western society: the old woman.
The “ideal” image and media representation of women exaggerate our expectations of their physical attractiveness. This is a look that is not representative of the majority of women, especially older women.
The double standard regarding aging speaks to the reality that older women are judged by society to be the toughest. .
These pernicious beauty and aging standards have ignited the need for cross-cutting approaches to address ageism and cultural expectations of physical appearance. Self-image and self-confidence suffer as women become more socialized to worry about their appearance and aging.
Gray is for men, not for women
LaFlamme and her experiences with gender ageism allow for some interesting comparisons. There are articles, forums, hashtags, and social media sites praising “silver foxes” (older men with gray or white hair). What is the equivalent of a female silver fox?
Anderson Cooper continues to host CNN shows with gray hair. George Clooney and Steve Carell have been praised and labeled as having attractive gray hair. He was allowed to stay in the anchor chair and was able to leave of his own accord at the age of 77.
This is because older men are seen as classy, distinguished, and sophisticated. Women just look old. “What a woman does or doesn’t do with her hair affects how other people react to her and, consequently, her social power.” It means women have choices. Allowing the natural process of aging to take over and make you go gray (and socially dismissed). , or dye your hair to look younger and be more “socially acceptable”.
The LaFlamme experience is the spark that started the fire.
Brands participating in solidarity with LaFlamme include Wendy’s (where the iconic red head logo turns gray), sports illustrated When dub canada (Tweet #KeepTheGrey).
These companies have taken a step in the right direction. The problem seems like a gray area, but it goes much deeper than LaFlamme’s hair color. This is a very complex issue of gender age discrimination.
As more women (and older women) enter the workforce, companies must learn how to retain, respect and nurture older employees. Responding to LaFlamme’s abuse and making her an inspiring role model is the beginning of positive change.
(author:Victoria Atabakhsh, PhD Candidate in Aging, Health and Wellbeing/Director of Lifestyles and Programs, University of Waterloo and Joe Todd, PhD Candidate in Recreation and Leisure Studies, University of Waterloo)
(Disclosure Statement: The author does not work for, consult with, own shares in, or receive funding from any company or organization that benefits from this article.
This article is reprinted from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Please read the original article.
(Except for the headline, this article is unedited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)