Anderson Cooper on the Value of Gray Hair

If you’re thinking of getting rid of your gray hair, don’t do it if you’re a man, says the famously gray-headed CNN anchor Anderson Cooper.

“In the TV news business, gray equals gravitas,” writes Cooper in a funny column posted to the website. “In fact, in just about any line of work being prematurely gray is an advantage. On a guy, gray hair says, “I’m mature, stable. I can be relied on.”

Note the qualification, “On a guy.”  Cooper admits that there is a huge double standard here.

“Women don’t get a free pass,” Cooper writes, admitting that our sexist society doesn’t favor gray-haired women in the same way it favors men.

At Speechworks, we don’t take a position on whether you should color your hair or not. Plenty of men with gray hair are terrible speakers.  And plenty of women with gray hair are wonderful speakers. 

But people do judge us based on superficial things.  An accounting firm partner told us how they had lost a pitch for a new piece of business. When they asked the decision-maker why they weren’t selected, they were told, “Your expert didn’t have enough gray hair.”

Frankly, hair color is pretty low on the list of priorities for improving your speaking skills.  We say, “Be yourself and do what makes you comfortable.”

If you really want to improve your skills, focus first on improving your voice energy. Speak with passion.  Engage your listeners with more intense facial expressions.  If you’ve do those things, no one will care about your hair.

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