Lisa LaFlamme

Piece of WW2 history made Lisa LaFlamme change her mind about grey hair

Veteran journalist Lisa LaFlamme has been a household name in Canada for decades. But after her sudden ousting from Bell Media last summer, LaFlamme became an essential topic of discussion — as did her grey hair.

The award-winning news anchor's mane allegedly played a role in CTV cutting ties with her. However, she has repeatedly opened up about her journey with premature greying, which led to her obsessively dying her roots every couple of weeks, even when reporting from a warzone bunker.

When the pandemic hit, Canada imposed extended lockdowns, leaving LaFlamme without salon options to have her hair dyed regularly. She's talked about seeing the whites peeking out and panicking a little.

But now, with her head of bright silver locks, LaFlamme has shared another tidbit that helped her in her journey to giving up hair dye and, in turn, brought about a "grey-volution" for women.

American journalist Katie Couric spoke to LaFlamme on her podcast, Next Question, on Thursday. In the hour-long episode, the two seasoned broadcasters discussed the challenges women, particularly ageing women, face in the workplace.

In it, LaFlamme revealed that she felt pretty exhausted as a journalist around three weeks into the pandemic.

"You're in a newsroom, and all of a sudden, on a Friday and more than half the room leaves, and you've got four people left. The city's shutting down, the world is shutting down," she painted a picture. "You're looking at what's happening in Wuhan, Panama and Italy. The last thing you're thinking about is your hair."


A Brownatone hair colour ad, 1925 (via witness2fashion on WordPress)

In the middle of this, on a Saturday morning, LaFlamme chanced upon a podcast discussing the history of women and hair dyeing.

She had never really contemplated the background of the practice before. Covering greys has been a beauty standard for hundreds of years.

However, it saw a significant boost around the Great Depression and the Second World War when women began to enter the workforce.

"Men didn't want to see their mothers sitting in the typing pool or at the reception desk," LaFlamme realized. "Bravo to the marketing teams. They came up with a product that would make you look younger, and only your hairdresser knows."


A Miss Clairol hair dye from 1952

This disturbing detail gave her an unexpected dose of confidence to ditch the dye and embrace what she calls "the old skunk." That's when your grey roots grow long enough that when you part your hair down the middle, you see a contrasting skunk-like pattern.

"That podcast gave me the confidence I needed," she said, adding that one of her sisters, who had already stopped dyeing her hair, also inspired her."

"I thought, you know what, this is crazy. I can't do it like this! The drugstore ran out of hair and touch-up dye, and I just couldn't do it anymore. And that was it," LaFlamme told Couric in the video interview.

She also got vulnerable about the journey after the decision. "I remember, very vividly, being a few months in, and it is ugly."

LaFlamme also recalled an incident at a dog park around the same time. A woman at the park saw her sporting "the old skunk."

"It was almost like a Mary Tyler Moore moment. [The woman] took her beret off and said, 'I'm with you, Lisa!' And she had the whole skunk going on," the journalist recounted.

"I just thought it was good."

Watch the full interview here.

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