Sunday, May 15, 2011

Can A Woman Be a Silver Fox?

A supermodel, Kristen McMenamy, has been popping up a lot in the news over the last couple of years for her return to the modeling industry. She is making headlines because she is 46-years-old and has long gray hair. Many articles have praised McMenamy for widening what the modeling industry views as beautiful. She is proud of her gray hair and wants to show it off, yet I'm not sold on her goal to empower women to flaunt their gray locks.
There are a few troubling aspects of this image of McMenamy in Italian Vogue that need to be addressed. First, her hair looks blond in this image. Her look has striking similarities to another famous idol. There is something unnerving about McMenamy's expression. She looks doll-like and lifeless. Is this the ideal woman men want? Her body also makes me uncomfortable because while she is 46-years-old, she looks like she is 20-years-old. This is a trend where women in their 40s have become the new 20s. A show that perpetuates that idea is Desperate Housewives. I remember when the show first aired how Teri Hatcher was hailed for being "sexy over 40." Their is not an embracing of the aging process, but a complete denial that it takes place. A woman cannot age gracefully because well, she is not allowed to age... at all.

While McMenamy may have broken a "rule" that women cannot have gray hair, she is still caught in society's obsession with a youthful look. This image of McMenamy makes that point. Another contradiction to McMenamy's appearance is her declaration that she dyes her hair. In an article on USAtoday.com, she shared that there is one stubborn streak of black that she must dye to give her the "natural" gray look. This is an obvious contradiction to me because she does not fully embrace her gray hair when she dyes it. 

Instead of starting a movement toward aging gracefully, McMenamy's gray hair has started a trend. Socialites and models, such as Pixie Geldof in the image below, are mimicking McMenamy's gray look, and I think losing a message that could be powerful. 
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_qCXYmyUnGYg/Si_X9J4nOqI/AAAAAAAAHzY/U6Jdt5ziU74/s400/pixie-geldof-grey-hair-250x400.jpg

A young woman shared in an online blog that she learned to love her gray hair when she began noticing it at 14-years-old. She writes, "These days, most who comment on my hair compare me to the sexy, leather-clad character Rogue of the “X-Men” movies, and I never disabuse anyone of the notion that I am a superhero. My bad-ass world-saving name? Silver Fox, of course." It is possible for a woman to be a sexy, silver fox. 

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