Breaking: Angelina Jolie, Oscar-winning actress, director, screenwriter, UN ambassador, thrice-married divorcee and mother of six is officially going grey.
This is shocking.
Hang on. Not the going grey part – a few grey hairs at 42 is pretty standard. It’s the fact that, while she was at the Telluride Film Festival, promoting her movie, First They Killed My Father, she let us see that she was going grey.
This is not the first time she’s given us a peak at her silvery hairs. In 2013 when she appeared at the G8 Foreign Minister’s Summit in London to speak about sexual violence, her grey hair caused not a small stir on the interwebz.
But Angelina Jolie does not do anything by accident. This is a woman who hired a political fixer – the person Olivia Pope is based on – to manage the media scrutiny surrounding her divorce from Brad Pitt. Jolie runs a very tight ship.
She is candid, but she’s perfectly candid, if you will.
When she arrived at the festival earlier this week, with her six children in tow, her skin looked its usual porcelain, her makeup – the standard cat eye she’s been sporting for years. So far, so unsurprising. Celebrities bring hair and makeup teams with them whenever they have to travel to promote a movie.
But her hair looked like it had just come out of a hasty blow dry, and there, at the crown, were tufts of grey, as if Jolie has so much going on, she doesn’t have time to do her hair.
Perhaps she doesn’t have time. Uh, hello, perhaps she doesn’t care? Perhaps. If she doesn’t, she’s more evolved than most of us. In the 1950s only 7 per cent of women dyed their hair, today that figure is closer to 75 per cent. This number stands despite numerous articles about the women who let themselves go grey and, in doing so, never felt more sexy or empowered.
The truth is that grey hair on a woman’s head connotes ageing, which is still associated with a decrease in attractiveness. The same cannot be said for men. Certainly, grey hair is synonymous with ageing but ageing in men is no barrier to sex appeal. Just look at George Clooney or Matt Damon or Alec Baldwin or Jolie’s ex-husband Brad Pitt. All of these men have a touch of salt and pepper, and all have marinated in their hottie status.
Angelina Jolie already has hottie status. Hers is the face that launched a thousand surgeries, the definition of white westernised celebrity beauty for the last two decades. One thing she’s never been viewed as is vulnerable, or indeed, weak.
Maybe, Jolie, who was described in the leaked Sony emails as “a spoiled brat” and by a former bodyguard as a “control freak” understands, like so many directors, that when you’re promoting a movie about something as important and delicate as the Cambodian genocide at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, it helps to pull out all the stops. And if the only way you can get an important movie into award ceremonies is to show, as plainly as you can, that you’re not some perfectly coiffed pariah, then by gosh, you’re going to do it.
Her two most recent interviews would seem to reflect this, with Jolie being candid about crying in the shower, about her bell’s palsy diagnosis arising from stress, and about finding a few more greys in hair at this time in her life. All of this is not to suggest that life is easy for her right now, it’s most likely overflowing with terrible grief over the dissolution of her marriage. It’s just that, even while Jolie was directing By The Sea, about her then husband having a self-destructive streak and a drinking problem, (two things Pitt has since admitted to) she gave no hint that it reflected her real-life situation.
But that was then.
Gossip editor Elaine Lui put it this way, “[Jolie] is presenting a softer side of herself now. One of the most beautiful women in the world, the woman who could once reliably headline an action movie is now saying that doesn’t “enjoy being single”, that it’s “hard”. She’s also telling us that she’s a mess too, that she hasn’t got it all together all the time.”
If allowing us to see her grey hair is a manipulation, it’s a welcome one. And, what if it’s a case of just being too busy with real stuff to care? Well, more power to her. Though it’s doubtful she needs it.