Ageism and hair-colorism in the workplace

Jeanne Thompson, 44,  is an example of a woman who had a good experience transitioning out from gray hair in the workplace. Unfortunately, according to Star-Telegram, there are still women who face ageism in the workplace.

News anchor Dana King, 53, had to ask her manager about ending her dying her hair, but he was not happy with the idea. Of course the industry the women works in plays a huge factor; financial services versus on-air media.

There seems to be a trend in magazines and other media outlets that report on these issues: using celebrities as an example of society’s acceptance.

It’s one to tell the story of Jane Doe, age mid-40s, who decided to give up the gray dye and the story was dandy (or not). But it’s also reassuring, if not more, to hear of women in the Hollywood spotlight that have done the same thing.

Seattlepi is an online news blog that reported on Lady Gaga and Kelly Osbourne showing the greys in the same article that reported on Jeanne Thompson.

But the article definitely brings truth in saying that it is difficult for working women to be bold about following the trend of giving up dying. The article quotes David Scher, a Washington civil rights attorney who said, “I don’t think a woman in the workplace is going to follow that trend. I think women in the workplace are highly pressured to look young. If I were an older working person, the last thing I would do is go gray” (Italie).

While there are even legal laws like the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 to protect ageism in the workplace, there are issues of what is dubbed “hair-colorism” in the workplace.

All these success stories, of course, occur after women have been dying their hair for over 20 years and are in positions of authority and control. This really doesn’t say much about women having the right to freely gray because of such negative perceptions of aging.

Resources:
A job is not to dye for: Many women going gray
Gray hair’s in fashion, but what about at work
Houston Chronicle
Terri Holley

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