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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

A young woman drinking bottled water outdoors before exercising.



The Story of Bottled Waterwww.youtube.com

Here are six facts from the video above by The Story of Stuff Project that I'll definitely remember next time I'm tempted to buy bottled water.

1. Bottled water is more expensive than tap water (and not just a little).

via The Story of Stuff Project/YouTube


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And in an article in 20 Something Finance, G.E. Miller investigated the cost of bottled versus tap water for himself. He found that he could fill 4,787 20-ounce bottles with tap water for only $2.10! So if he paid $1 for a bottled water, he'd be paying 2,279 times the cost of tap.

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“As we were making vegetable soup, we landed on the idea of cooking it on stage and performing a concert with the vegetables while we were doing that,” Meinharter told Atlas Obscura. “It all started as a joke,” he told the BBC. “We were brainstorming what we could do, and we thought: ‘What is the most difficult thing to play music on?’”

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Neil DeGrasse Tyson at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA.

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Karen Blaha/Wikimedia Commons

Crinkle crankle walls are more common the U.K., but they can be found in the U.S. as well.

If you were to draw a straight line and a wavy line from point A to point B, there would be no question which one used more ink. After all, "The shortest distance between two points (on a flat surface) is a straight line" has been baked into our brains since elementary school math class. Logically, a wavy line uses more ink because it covers more distance, right? Right.

So if that's true, how is it possible that a brick wall built in a wavy pattern could use fewer bricks than a straight one built between the exact same two points?

Not only is it possible, it's actually true, despite people's disbelief over the fact.

A post on X from @InternetHOF shows the claim that "corrugated brick fences" sometimes seen in England use fewer bricks than a straight wall, with the caption, "I don't believe this is true."

It does seem illogical from a pure geometry-on-paper standpoint, but what makes it true is how the structural integrity of brick walls works.

There are all kinds of nitty-gritty calculations a structural engineer could get into to explain, but thankfully, internet hero (and strangely popular X account) Greg came to everyone's rescue with an explanation that neatly fit into a single post on X.

"They're called crinkle crankles," wrote Greg. "A single leaf wall over that distance would need brick piers approx every 1.5-2m if it was a retaining wall it would need to be at least 9” wide (2 bricks). The crinkle crankle has more strength due to it’s curved nature so can be 4” wide or a single leaf of bricks.

"For the maths if we can assume they’re true semi-circles then each semi circle would be 1/2piD or 1.57D whereas a double leaf wall would be 2D for the same length D.

"Therefore using 21.5% less bricks than a double leaf wall hope that clears things up."

In even simpler terms, a long, straight brick wall only a single brick wide would not be able to stand without some kind of buttresses every couple of meters, which would actually take more bricks to build. Otherwise, it would need to be thicker, which would also increase the number of bricks needed. The curve of the crinkle crankle (best name ever) provides stability all on its own, so the wall doesn't need structured supports.

serpentine brick wall next to a bunch of daffodils

Crinkle crankle walls are usually referred to as serpentine walls in the U.S.

Karen Blaha/Wikimedia Commons

First of all, what a cool piece of human ingenuity that people actually figured this out hundreds of years ago. And second of all, why are there not more crinkle crankle walls everywhere? So much more fun and whimsical. And apparently, a better use of resources.

But before you go building your own crinkle crankle wall to make your house look super cool, make sure you've got the geometry correct. There are actual specifications for making a structurally sound serpentine wall, and if you don't do it correctly, you may find yourself with a pile of bricks and no wall, curvy or straight.

If you want to see some cool crinkle crankle walls in the U.S., head to the University of Virginia. Thomas Jefferson himself added them to the design of the Charlottesville, Virginia, campus.

wavy brick wall separating a grassy area and a driveway

Crinkle crankle wall at the University of Virginia

Carlin MacKenzie/Wikimedia Commons

More crinkle crankles everywhere, please.