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Andie MacDowell shows what we can all learn about beauty and age from the gray hair movement

"Honestly, it's exhausting to have to be something that you no longer are."

andie macdowell gray hair

Andie MacDowell in Cannes, 2003.

For many, even those that proudly wave the flag of self-love, the sight of that first gray hair is anxiety inducing. That single strand is a harbinger of the doom of our youth. More than one, and you might as well weave them together to create yourself a noose. It’s time to kiss your beauty—and therefore, your value—goodbye.

But what if, instead of marking the end of our glory days, we could see this change as a new chapter with equally glorious reveals? Something worth presenting, rather than hiding?

Back in July 2021, actress Andie MacDowell made headlines for rocking the silver vixen look at the Cannes Film Festival. MacDowell’s hair has always been a defining feature, but previously she had been coloring her raven locks to maintain her signature look. This was at the behest of her managers, according to an interview with Vogue.

But after her kids officially declared the salt-and-pepper look was “badass,” MacDowell started to see going natural as a “power move.” So she followed the impulse, and you don’t need me to tell you it was a bit of a social media sensation.

MacDowell reflected on how freeing the experience was in a conversation with Interview Magazine. “I feel better like this. Honestly, it’s exhausting to have to be something that you no longer are…I was finally like, ‘You know what? I’m not young. And I’m OK with that..I feel so much more comfortable. It’s like I’ve taken a mask off or something.”’


Isn’t this a battle so many of us fight? Instead of basking in how far we’ve come, we spend so much effort trying to wind back the clock. And in all the rigamarole of trying to delay the inevitable, we forget that aging is a glorious gift. One that’s not guaranteed.

Even when we use terms like “embrace the gray,” there’s this connotation that aging is this frightening tidal wave that we simply need to bolster ourselves for. Where’s the grace in that? I mean, yes, as the end of life approaches, it is scary to think about the impending unknown. But the process of getting there? Perhaps not so much.

In the same article, MacDowell reflected that she, too, “hates the word 'embrace,' because it always sounds like you’re having to accept something, and I don’t feel like that.” I love this viewpoint. Accept it? Why not value it? Let’s come back to the original meaning of the word … and welcome it warmly.

MacDowell continued “We do have something unique to offer. You can’t be young forever, but you can always be considered beautiful, fashionable, and glamorous.”

The cynical voice in your head might say, “sure easy for someone who’s already glamorous to say that.” But MacDowell isn’t the only one who made this discovery. Tons of “real” women have had the same revelation.

Once the pandemic caused salons across the country to close down (coupled with major pay cuts and job losses), a surge of women chose to stop coloring their hair. But—as with many life aspects affected by COVID-19—what started as a forced restriction became an opportunity for reinvention. In ditching the hair dye, many women found that their silver strands were not only tolerable, they were empowering.

Now you could even say gray hair is “in” and making a comeback tour. And trust, these dames are definitely glamorous. This is not just an experience for A-listers.

Of course, this movement is not just about aesthetics. There is a bigger idea here. It’s no secret that our society has some deep-seated stigmas when it comes to aging, for women in particular. We place a high value on those "30 Under 30" lists, seek out the strongest retinol to erase all signs of life and stand mouth agape in horror at the first mention of the word “ma’am.” But it doesn’t have to be that way. All chapters of life are precious, and worth celebrating.

I’m a firm believer that glamor is only a result of confidence. And as we grow older, we only become more dynamic, more nuanced, more interesting. If that’s not a confidence booster, I don’t know what is.

Going gray won’t be the answer for everyone. I certainly don’t plan on trading in my signature red anytime soon. But the real call to adventure is: How can you feel good about yourself at every stage of life? How can you throw away the (false) notion that you somehow lose your shine with every passing year?

As the saying goes, “beauty is truth, truth beauty.” I think we can really see that in stories like these. To age gracefully is to age fearlessly. Radical self-acceptance is gorgeous.


This article originally appeared on 02.25.22

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From political science to joining the fight against cancer: How one woman found her passion

An unexpected pivot to project management expanded Krystal Brady's idea of what it means to make a positive impact.

Krystal Brady/PMI

Krystal Brady utilizes her project management skills to help advance cancer research and advocacy.

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Cancer impacts nearly everyone’s life in one way or another, and thankfully, we’re learning more about treatment and prevention every day. Individuals and organizations dedicated to fighting cancer and promising research from scientists are often front and center, but we don’t always see the people working behind the scenes to make the fight possible.

People like Krystal Brady.

While studying political science in college, Brady envisioned her future self in public office. She never dreamed she’d build a successful career in the world of oncology, helping cancer researchers, doctors and advocates continue battling cancer, but more efficiently.

Brady’s journey to oncology began with a seasonal job at a small publishing company, which helped pay for college and awakened her love for managing projects. Now, 15 years later, she’s serving as director of digital experience and strategy at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which she describes as “the perfect place to pair my love of project management and desire to make positive change in the world.”

As a project manager, Brady helps make big ideas for the improvement of diagnosing and treating cancer a reality. She is responsible for driving the critical projects that impact the lives of cancer researchers, doctors, and patients.

“I tell people that my job is part toolbox, part glue,” says Brady. “Being a project manager means being responsible for understanding the details of a project, knowing what tools or resources you need to execute the project, and facilitating the flow of that work to the best outcome possible. That means promoting communication, partnership, and ownership among the team for the project.”

At its heart, Brady’s project management work is about helping people. One of the big projects Brady is currently working on is ASCO’s digital transformation, which includes upgrading systems and applications to help streamline and personalize oncologists’ online experience so they can access the right resources more quickly. Whether you are managing humans or machines, there’s an extraordinary need for workers with the skillset to harness new technology and solve problems.

The digital transformation project also includes preparing for the use of emerging technologies such as generative AI to help them in their research and practices.

“Most importantly, it lays the groundwork for us to make a meaningful impact at the point of care, giving the oncologist and patient the absolute latest recommendations or guidelines for care for that specific patient or case, allowing the doctor to spend more time with their patients and less time on paperwork,” Brady says.

In today’s fast-changing, quickly advancing world, project management is perhaps more valuable than ever. After discovering her love for it, Brady earned her Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification through Project Management Institute (PMI)—the premier professional organization for project managers with chapters all over the world—which she says gave her an edge over other candidates when she applied for her job at ASCO.

“The knowledge I gained in preparing for the PMP exam serves me every day in my role,” Brady says. “What I did not expect and have truly come to value is the PMI network as well – finding like-minded individuals, opportunities for continuous learning, and the ability to volunteer and give back.”

PMI’s growing community – including more than 300 chapters globally – serves as a place for project managers and individuals who use project management skills to learn and grow through events, online resources, and certification programs.

While people often think of project management in the context of corporate careers, all industries and organizations need project managers, making it a great career for those who want to elevate our world through non-profits or other service-oriented fields.

“Project management makes a difference by focusing on efficiency and outcomes, making us all a little better at what we do,” says Brady. “In almost every industry, understanding how to do our work more effectively and efficiently means more value to our customers, and the world at large, at an increased pace.”

Project management is also a stable career path in high demand as shown by PMI research, which found that the global economy will need 25 million more project managers by 2030 and that the median salary for project managers in the US has grown to $120K.

If you’d like to learn more about careers in project management, PMI has resources to help you get started or prove your proficiency, including its entry-level Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification program. For those interested in pursuing a project management career to make a difference, it could be your first step.

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