Back in August, a new type of story hit the headlines in Canada, and since then has gained international attention. I, of course, refer to the firing of CTV National News anchor, Lisa LaFlamme. If you have not been aware of this story, I shall sum up for you.

Earlier in August, LaFlamme, who spent decades with Bell Media (the parent company of CTV), released a video statement from her personal Twitter account detailing the circumstances of her ousting from the company. She stated that she was actually told of her firing in late June 2022 but was told to not announce this decision until after she was fully removed from the company. Now, these types of unceremonious send-offs are not entirely uncommon in media. However, the issue with this case is the alleged motives behind the firing.

It is no secret that LaFlamme has been a household face and voice in the homes of Canadians for 35 years with CTV National News, most notably as the head anchor for the past 12 years. And during the pandemic, she was even more important to keeping viewers informed of the news surrounding vaccines, safety, and information on the virus. However, the one thing that changed starting in 2020 was her hair colour. She explained in her Twitter video that because her salon had closed, she wasn’t able to keep getting her hair coloured and decided to embrace her natural grey hairs. She became a beacon for women in the country to love their natural beauty because here was a woman on national television not afraid of what others might say concerning her age.

According to a senior company official since the official firing, there are allegations that LaFlamme was fired because of her new image not being accepted by Bell News Media executives. Most notable in this allegation is Bell Media’s vice-president of news, Michael Melling. Allegedly, Melling has had heated and verbal disagreements on set with LaFlamme before. Now, while she explains that it is fairly typical for discussions to happen between executives and news anchors, these discussions were strangely more heated and aggressive as opposed to constructive and collaborative.

The point of this post is that whatever the truth of this story, the optics are definitely wrong and shed light on a major issue for workplaces going forward; specifically, those with aesthetic appeal to consider. LaFlamme had grey hair and was fired. Her predecessor, Lloyd Robertson, a man, had grey hair for years and was allowed to gracefully exit and had a thoughtful send-off celebration. So, after 35 years, why was LaFlamme not initially afforded the same? It’s no secret that the standards for appearance of women in media is vastly more scrutinous than it is for men. Life happens. Age is inevitable. Skill and influence is not affected by aesthetic changes of a woman, and it is time we cease this stereotype that women need to be young, thin, and “sexy” to appeal to audiences.

Just imagine in your own office if you thought that a female co-worker did not deserve to work at your company anymore because she didn’t look sexy enough. It begs the question, why are you thinking of your female coworkers as sexual objects? And if you aren’t, then we should not expect or accept that in any industry or company! Aging and changing in appearance are natural occurrences that should be celebrated, not buried in the sand. Whatever happened to respecting our elders? Women are our elders too, and it’s time we celebrate their accomplishments regardless of their looks.

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