The Daily Mirror reports that the actor Demi Moore went “au naturale as she dined in a West Hollywood taco bar with friends.” What, I thought? She was starkers when she went out for a bite to eat? No, nothing like that. There were “wisps of visible silver hair” on view. Moore, the Mirror adds “has been open about using surgery to retain her youthful looks.” This sort of thing only ever happens to women.
If this sort of thing matters, I am relatively lucky. Whilst my beard is 50% white, my hair remains an unlikely brown. But I don’t think it does matter. For men, it doesn’t matter because the media is not controlled by women.
There is no media clamour when silver-haired George Clooney ventures out. It’s accepted that men can go grey and white and silver and no-one cares. The newspapers, desperate to point out Demi Moore’s “wisps of silver hair”, don’t do the same when it’s a bloke involved.
That is not to say that famous men don’t have things done. How many Hollywood stars are bald? Transplants, weaves and even wigs are common for men. I am not saying, for example, that the likes of Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood in the Rolling Stones have had hair enhancements but there are few men, at least in my local, who boast thick brown hair into their seventies.
The extent of women employing hair colouring had not occurred to me until a lady friend of mine explained that “we all dye our hair to some extent or other”. Really, I thought? “How many couples do you see where the male has white hair, if he has any hair at all, and the woman has none at all?” There’s no scientific reason that says only men’s hair changes colour and not women’s.
Does any of this matter? Not to me it doesn’t – live and let live, and all that, I say – but there is a societal expectation that women must not have white/silver/grey hair. The press, which as we have noted is owned and edited solely by men, puts huge pressure on women to look a certain way. Visit a dieting club and those in attendance are usually women. Women are not allowed to put on weight, to let their hair change into a natural colour, to acquire the lines of age.
Not all women follow the media prescription. Far from it. I am not trying to suggest, for one moment, that every single woman wants to be thin because the Daily Mail says so. I am trying to say that women are under huge pressure to look a certain way and I am not convinced that that pressure, from men, of course, doesn’t affect some women. I know enough fabulously independent women to understand that the Daily Mail view of women doesn’t affect everyone.
I don’t dislike or fear the lines of age. I really don’t care about grey hair or the odd pound or two in the “wrong” places. Beauty is not in the eye of the red top news editor, or the slimming club: it is what it is.
Demi Moore is a great actor and I really don’t care if her hair is turning silver. All I care about is whether she is good at her job; she is.
The lines of age are, to this boy, quite beautiful. The smooth skin of surgery and botox don’t do it for me. If they work for others, that’s fine too.
It’s still a man’s world, like it or not, and the day our gossip columns are no longer filled with images of how a woman should, and shouldn’t, look like can’t come soon enough for me.