Amy Rosen is a freelance journalist and cookbook author.
Lisa LaFlamme, chief anchor and senior editor of CTV National News, has covered wars and elections through her storied career, and is now making news of her own. During COVID-19 she has continued to bring her trademark calm and inquisitiveness to the nightly newscasts, as she sits physically distanced at the anchor desk in pristinely applied makeup and a perfect bob, smoothly straightened by her own hand, with a big round brush and a professional-grade blow dryer. Looking at her you’d never know there was a global pandemic raging outside – but for the fact that there’s a very new and very distinct band of grey creeping across her coiffed hair and up her temples. Lisa LaFlamme is all of us. Well, she’s me, at least.
During the current crisis, health and welfare, the safety of our loved ones and of others has been top of mind. Life has been upended during lockdown, and without the hands of professionals cutting and dying our hair, so too has our vanity. Blondes are returning to natural brunettes, the formerly flat-ironed are going curly. Nature is healing and so is our overly processed hair.
Our newly grey and uncoiffed hair tells a story: That of a beleaguered parent. A person leaning into her natural side. A prime minister who is holding himself to the same restrictions that he’s mandating of others. If you’re suspicious of people not properly isolating, follow the hair.
Jackass star Johnny Knoxville recently unveiled his newly shorn quarantine grey. Same with comedian Kevin Hart, and The View co-host Meghan McCain revealing what she calls her “witchy” roots. But not L’Oreal Paris spokesperson Eva Longoria, who, in an industry first, filmed an Excellence Crème commercial at home on a smartphone. “Bye-bye, greys!” she beamed.
My friend Natasha started going grey prematurely and by her early forties announced she was giving up the battle with the bottle and decided to let her stick-straight salt-and-pepper go fully silver. There were awkward months, which turned into awkward years, including that day she called me from a shopping mall bathroom, quietly sobbing after a pharmacy cashier had asked if she wanted the seniors’ discount. (She was 42.) Natasha recently reminded me about this story because she found it hilarious that, instead of being a warm and sympathetic friend, I simply said, “You know what to do.” But Natasha persisted and as of this year she has the most glorious silver hair you’ve ever seen and she has never looked more beautiful. In the end, she did know what to do. We could all learn a thing or two from Ms. LaFlamme and Natasha.
Instead, many of us are playing a waiting game while using stop-gap measures before deciding our next move. I was lucky enough to have visited the salon a week before the shutdown so was in good shape for the first two months. Then as the grey started growing in I fashioned myself a new side part and as my bangs continued their march toward my chin, I swooped them to the side to cover my temples. My extra long hair now permanently up in an extra fluffy topknot was further coverage still. But eventually, prior to an important Zoom meeting this week, I gave up the charade and bought a can of touch up spray, treating my head like Toronto’s Graffiti Alley.
We are currently experiencing life without much of the professional help we’ve grown accustomed to. Hair care, yes, but also child care, teachers, physiotherapists and masseuses. These grey hairs are a reflection of what many of us are feeling like on the inside. The greys are the knots in our backs, the tears of frustration during homeschooling, the toothaches and the heartache. It’s different, raw and real.
Ms. LaFlamme could have easily sprayed her roots with a shot of Magic Root Cover Up, or Ms. Longoria’s home-colouring kit, but instead decided to let her grey flag fly, and in doing so she somehow earned even more of my trust and respect. So is grey the new honesty? Perhaps. It’s certainly a sign of the times, which for some means not ruining expensive highlights with a botched home-dye job, while for others it means there’s simply too much else on the go to even care.
As for me, I just used Ms. Longoria’s kit and feel like a million bucks.
Keep your Opinions sharp and informed. Get the Opinion newsletter. Sign up today.