My older son, who is almost exactly the same age as Cara, has this fry, while his younger brother does not. Is there a culturally-timed event or trend here, similar to "Valley Girl" phrasing?There is a theory that this originated with the mimicking of certain female celebrities. I can't say that I have seen a definitive study on this, however.
So... here is my theory. I worked in radio for 5 years and didn't really hear it much at the time, but I think that should be tempered by the fact that at that point in time you still basically only worked on-air if you were either a male or you had a deep-ish voice as a woman. One of the women I worked with (and still keep in touch with, actually) did the voice of the appliance in this clip:
Another woman I worked with (the reporter here; note her voice juxtaposed with the higher-pitched and vocal fry-present interviewee):http://mynorthwest.com/22601/survivor-suicide-treatment-really-works/
I wanted to bring in real-world examples so you can see what I mean: as recently as 2005ish, this was the standard for how women on the radio and/or doing announcing were supposed to sound. The thing that has changed in radio and TV more than anything else is that it used to be that if you didn't have a voice like Donna Renae's or Ursula Reutin's you simply didn't get gigs. It's just different for guys in that very few of us have voices so high-pitched that we can't talk a little bit deeper without it going below our regular chest register and creating that thing that people call vocal fry. Now things are changing and people with higher-pitched voices are beginning to get more work, which I think is fantastic by the way but is only kind of tangential to this point. Unfortunately there is still this attitude that serious = talking a low voice that pervades... well, everywhere. Think about when you have to tell your SO or a family member something important: you're going to drop to a lower pitch automatically, probably without thinking about it, unless you *specifically* want to maintain the illusion that whatever you're talking about is light and breezy.
All in all I think that radio and voice work in general needs more diversity in pitch than they've had in the past. There will still continue to be jobs out there for those of us WITH AMAZING DEEP SOOTHING VOICES THAT GIVE PEOPLE THE ASMR* but not everyone in real life sounds like this and not every voice you hear on the radio should either. On top of that I think that once you get used to the way a person sounds, which I think you can pick up pretty quickly in most cases, you quickly learn what is a Serious Low Voice for *them*, regardless of how low it is compared to others. I think that the whole "vocal fry" thing, then, is an artifact of this transitory period we're going through, where 20 years from now vocal fry won't be a thing and we'll probably all kind of laugh at how everyone in radio and who did TV announcing or whatever had corny, deep voices (consider the way we think about the early pop music era with "crooners" like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra). On top of that, yeah, it's kind of covert woman-shaming in that not all women have vocal fry but nearly everyone who has it is a woman. And on top of *that*, what I've read is that, demographically speaking, vocal fry is only a thing you care about if you're over 35 or so.
*Disclaimer: I'm a baritone, not a bass. My voice does have a natural resonance to it that the lllllllllllllllladies lllllllllllllllllllllllllllllove but let's not go crazy here; I ain't exactly Barry White or Don LaFontaine.