In the news this morning is the death of Betty Ford at 93. I don't have many comments about her except that after being First Lady she seemed to flower, dealt with her problems and helped others as she had not before. Many women, especially in earlier generations, did not feel free to be their best selves until late in life when they feel they've "earned" selfhood through living the expected life.
But that's not what came to mind when I saw her picture. I have no beef with using pictures taken when the deceased was much younger, pictures that are recognizable from her period of public life. But what I thought was immediately that her carefully coiffed brown hair would have been equally or more attractive if it had been gray or white.
I think of the beautiful Carmen Del'Orifice, the fashion model who has grandly worn her white hair for twenty or thirty years now. I think of finding myself often now in a room with many white or gray haired women, at the adult ed classes, at the matinees at the local art cinema. Many look wonderful.
In The NY Times this morning was a brief note about an agism suit in the courts in Texas where a woman was told by the financial institution where she was customer service person that she should dye her hair, wear younger clothes and more jewelry, that people did not want to do business with her. A blatant matter of agism. Can there be any truth in an assertion that people would rather have financial advice from a stereotypical Jackie Collins type than a mature looking woman who might actually know something about handling money instead of conspicuously spending it? If that is not just a manager's prejudice speaking, and there's truth in the assertion, it's no wonder America is in the midst of a major financial crisis.
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