Wednesday 24 August 2022

How to be a Success: Go Cookie Cutter Blonde and Stay There

(This post appears on SLEUTHSAYERS, Aug. 27.  Repeated here for my regular viewers.)

WARNING:  Not a comedy post.

Back in my forties, I made a critical career error.  I didn't dye my hair blonde.

Dark auburn from birth, I kind of liked my unique hair colour which went well with the snake green eyes I also came with.  (My first husband was a big fan of the combo, and used to say, every time a British Racing Green Jaguar went by, "there go your eyes".)

Thing is, back then, I didn't know that every successful woman was supposed to be blonde.  Not brunette, not auburn, and certainly not grey. 

Yes, I'm talking about the current uproar in Canada, about Lisa LaFlamme being let go from the CTV news anchor position. She was 58 and had let her hair go grey due to the pandemic.

What you may not know is that Lisa LaFlamme is gorgeous.  She is glamorous beyond anything I could achieve.  She is a respected journalist with 30 years experience, much of it in the field, overseas.  She has been given the Order of Canada for her work.

She is also the 'brand,' meaning she was the anchor for the top rated evening news show in Canada.  It is the most viewed IN CANADA.

And CTV have let her go.

Who torpedoes their most successful brand? 

No amount of back-peddling can whitewash this.  We all know why.  The big honcho in charge was even quoted in a meeting as having said, "Who allowed Lisa LaFlamme to go grey?"  Every major media outlet and blog in the country is screaming foul on this.  The Beaverton, a wonderful satirical magazine, said this:  "...clearly she should have been fired the day she turned 50...We cannot apologize enough for subjecting our viewers to the sight of a woman who is almost 60 years old."'

Some time ago, my former agent (a nice guy who died suddenly) said to me, "Keep dyeing your hair." Showing your age, it seemed, would be career-limiting.

Why this post?  Lisa LaFlamme and I are of an age. She chose to eschew the cookie cutter blonde look (I'm sure the networks buy this dye by the barrel) and embrace her grey, confident in the fact that her professionalism was the key to holding her anchor position.

So I ask it again, as I did in my 40s, and my 20s, will we ever have a world where the way a woman looks does not override what she accomplishes?

I could write more, but I'm due back out on the picket lines carrying my sign, "I can't believe I'm still protesting this shit."



Wednesday 3 August 2022


 You'll hear a familiar voice at 5:50 tonight, on CBC radio, 99.1 in Toronto, streaming on the CBC website.  The subject?