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Image / Style / Beauty

Andie MacDowell: Why is my grey hair an issue and George Clooney’s isn’t?


By Sarah Finnan
01st Nov 2022

RICARDO HUBBS/NETFLIX © 2021

Andie MacDowell: Why is my grey hair an issue and George Clooney’s isn’t?

'Maid' star Andie MacDowell debuted a new natural look at a red carpet event last year, but she thinks it’s time Hollywood reevaluates how ageing stars are treated… regardless of gender.

Red carpet fashion has been serving major Hollywood glamour since lockdown lifted, with things hitting a crescendo at the Cannes Film Festival back in May. An event oozing in glamour, there was plenty to fawn over, but while most eyes were busy assessing the style stakes, ours were focused on Andie MacDowell’s gorgeous salt and pepper locks.

Long been revered for her luscious locks, the actress has been the face of L’Oréal Paris for 30+ years so safe to say she’s influenced more than a few beauty looks over the years. But while the greys aren’t necessarily new, her decision to embrace them is. Speaking to Vogue about the move to “make silver her calling card”, MacDowell said that she made the transition because it just felt more her. 

50 shades of salt and pepper 

Comparing herself to George Clooney – the world’s favourite silver fox – the Maid star said that she was initially advised against going for it, but she persisted. “My managers had actually said to me, ‘It’s not time’. And I said, ‘I think you’re wrong, and I’m going to be more powerful if I embrace where I am right now.’” So, she followed her gut and let her natural hair colour take over and she has absolutely no regrets. Echoing something beauty writer Sali Hughes said of her decision to go grey, MacDowell commented that she’s “never felt more powerful”.

“Once I did it, it was just so clear to me that my instincts were right because I’ve never felt more powerful. I feel more honest. I feel like I’m not pretending. I feel like I’m embracing right where I am. I feel really comfortable. And in a lot of ways, I think it’s more striking on my face. I just feel like it suits me.” 

She’s not alone in thinking so either as her Cannes looks turned quite a few heads, with the actor strutting the red carpet in a number of showstopping get-ups – including a slinky St John number, a pink Magda Butrym power suit, and a green silk Prada gown amongst others.

Being real 

As for her own hair inspiration (or hair-spiration, if you will), MacDowell fell down an internet rabbit hole with Instagram providing plenty of fodder for her team of accomplished hairdressers. “I couldn’t really find any famous women online. The inspiration I was getting was from people that are not famous. I started looking on Instagram… I was looking at real women out there who were transitioning to grey, as well as younger women in their 50s who were choosing to go natural.”

Admitting that she considers it to be a “power move”, the actress said that she’s not trying to hide anything and her hair should reflect this. But, Hollywood has a reputation for favouring the young and beautiful. Is MacDowell worried? Yes and no. 

“I suffered in this business as an actress, with people always wanting me to look younger. For me, it kind of hurts my heart that I can’t embrace where I am because honestly, I feel like I am enough right where I am. 

“I’m in great shape. I exercise all the time. I can pretty much keep up with the kids. I feel valuable where I am. I don’t want people to have the expectation that I need to look younger to have value or to be beautiful or desirable,” she said. 

Sexy in the city

More recently, Sex in the City star, Sarah Jessica Parker has also spoken out about her decision to embrace the greys. “I can’t spend time getting base colour every two weeks. Can’t do it. Nope. Too much,” she told Allure.Many described this choice as brave… but it’s a description the former Carrie Bradshaw takes great strife with.

Last summer, a photo of her dining al fresco with close friend Andy Cohen went viral. Bare-faced with no makeup on, Parker was pictured with her hair scraped back into a slick ponytail. The subsequent tabloid headlines read “Sarah Jessica Parker goes grey!”. “It became months and months of conversation about how brave I am for having grey hair,” Parker noted. “I was like, please, please applaud someone else’s courage on something.”

Silver vixen

MacDowell also rightly pointed out that men don’t face the same challenges that their female colleagues do,  saying that she’d love equal treatment for both men and women in the industry. “We don’t do that to men! We love an older man. We love men as they age. I would love the same expectation for women, and we’re getting there… you know, baby steps.”

“What I would like for all of us to do is to stop and consider how we think about mature men and how we think about mature women and really start gauging what we say and what we project. We need to! There are changes that need to be made for my generation of women and the next. I just want people to reflect on it is all,” she later added.

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MacDowell raises an interesting point – one that’s been the topic of conversation on many an occasion. Male celebrities are widely considered to “get better with age”. Fans extol the virtues of an older man, with George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio still considered to be some of the most attractive in the industry. Not only that, but work seems to come easier to them too. Casting older male actors is rarely a problem… in fact, it’s probably more of an issue to narrow the choices down than anything. 

Can the same be said when filling roles for older women? Doubtful. Of course, there are the long-standing icons – Helen Mirren, Dame Judy Dench, Jane Fonda – but they’re the exception, not the rule. And they face much harsher standards when it comes to their appearance too. We use the phrase “silver fox” to describe older men, but there’s no such equivalent for women… which itself points to a wider problem surrounding the ageing process and how it’s perceived differently for both men and women.

So, it looks like Andie is right; change is definitely needed.