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Pressure to cut your hair after 30... or is it 40?

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Jen Bahney View Drop Down
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    Posted: January 11 2000 at 8:38pm
My hair politics beef are:a) The pressure to cut your hair after a certain age, andb) The pressure to cut your hair when you're a "professional" woman in the workplace.It just fascinates me that people have such strong opinions about long hair and believe you should follow certain rules. As long as you're neat and well-groomed in the workplace, who cares?!Plus, who made up the rules that you should have short hair after turning 30, 40, whatever?Ah, it feels good to rant!Related Link:Bowers-Bahney Communications
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Hi Jen,Great topic.I am currently really struggling with the professional "woman" thing. As you know, I own my own company and my partners will often suggest that I might consider putting my hair up with my suits. UGH. On the one hand I know that are right and people do take me more seriously, on the other hand, I want to wear my hair the way I want to.As far as the "over 30-40, cut your hair" bah humbug. I get pretty steamed when I see that. Thank God Jane Fonda who is over 60 has very long hair these days.Karen> My hair politics beef are:> a) The pressure to cut your hair after a certain age,> and> b) The pressure to cut your hair when you're a> "professional" woman in the workplace.> It just fascinates me that people have such strong> opinions about long hair and believe you should follow> certain rules. As long as you're neat and well-groomed> in the workplace, who cares?!> Plus, who made up the rules that you should have short> hair after turning 30, 40, whatever?> Ah, it feels good to rant!
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>Hi Jen,I'm nearly 38 and after a mass disaster with a hairdresser who melted my 33inch long hair off plus for no extra charge gave me 2nd degree scalp burn, I ended up with 3 inches of hair& due to scalp damage my hair has never grown so slowly, but I AM growing it back as long as I can get it. There should not be pressure for the so called "Power Cut", for buisness women or any other woman for that matter,unfortunatly a lot of people associate long hair to women in there 20's, I love the versitility of long hair(as I myself do not like short hair ON ME & I can just scrape it into a baby ponytail),I have seen women over 50 looking immaculate with beautiful long hair, basically I think age should not enter this area.Best wishes,Simone.(C).Hi Jen,> Great topic.> I am currently really struggling with the professional> "woman" thing. As you know, I own my own> company and my partners will often suggest that I> might consider putting my hair up with my suits. UGH.> On the one hand I know that are right and people do> take me more seriously, on the other hand, I want to> wear my hair the way I want to.> As far as the "over 30-40, cut your hair"> bah humbug. I get pretty steamed when I see that.> Thank God Jane Fonda who is over 60 has very long hair> these days.> Karen
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cheryl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 11 2000 at 8:38pm
Gee Jen...who was the culprit who made up this rule? This is certainly a modern day theory. Just like in the Victorian days rounded women were the sexy ones.. now Marilyn Monroe is considered chubby! Twiggy shows up in the 60's and starts a revolution to make women shed pounds to be considered sleek. Even my own teenage daughter went through an eating disorder to try to keep her body super thin. It was scary but we got through it and now just to see her eat a doughnut is sheer joy. I have an aunt who has thigh length hair and she is 55. She tells me she gets comments made about her hair all the time. It's because she stands out. She says she can just be hurrying to the store and she will leave her hair in a braid and she will receive compliments like she was dressed for a fancy dinner party.. I think that's kewl! On the beef on wearing your hair on the job. If my job required that I be professional looking.. I would do that. There are many ways of doing long hair in a professional way. I certainly would not cut my hair off.. I think it's neat when women with long hair outdo their rival co workers with hairstyles they are not capable of doing with their short hair!! It's great to rant!!! Cher~My hair politics beef are:> a) The pressure to cut your hair after a certain age,> and> b) The pressure to cut your hair when you're a> "professional" woman in the workplace.> It just fascinates me that people have such strong> opinions about long hair and believe you should follow> certain rules. As long as you're neat and well-groomed> in the workplace, who cares?!> Plus, who made up the rules that you should have short> hair after turning 30, 40, whatever?> Ah, it feels good to rant!
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When I was in elementary school, I had a bus driver who was about 50 or so, and she had waist-length gray hair. She was a mean, old, grumpy woman, and I was terrified of her! She looked exactly like a witch with her long straggly gray hair. She never did anything with her hair--sometimes I wondered if she even washed it or brushed it because it just always hung down in limp frizzy strands. (This was in the 1970's, so she had the part down the middle of her head too--what my husband calls a "butt part" because, well, the hair part looks like a butt crack...but I digress...) I always thought that an older lady should not have long hair, mainly because of this bus driver. I think this type of image is what most people think of when they think of long hair on older women. I realize now that it is a misconception!!I just got married in November, and I searched everywhere for a hairsytle for my big day. I wanted an old fashioned look, so I researched victorian hair styles. I ended up with a "gibson girl" do in the front, and "basket weaved" curls in back. It was the most elegant hairstyle I have ever had. I loved it! Anyhow, during my research, looking at old photographs & sketchings, I saw how beautiful and youthful that long hair makes women look. Older women look years younger when they have a soft loose bun, instead of a choppy man's cut in their hair. They look very feminine too!My mom is 52, and she has been growing her hair out during the last 2-3 years. She now pulls it into a french twist, or a bun, and she looks stunning! Her hair is graying into a beautiful silver color, and I don't think her hair has ever looked better on her.I am getting close to 30, and I have long hair, and I have an entirely different perspective than I did when I was young. I work in a very professional (political) atmosphere and I have found many ways to wear my hair that looks very businesslike AND attractive. I really love having long hair and I don't intend to cut it just because of my age. My husband has recently started to get on my case because I made a comment that I'd like to grow my hair out to my waist. (I only have about 4 inches to go!) He has been lobbying me to cut my hair shorter because he doesn't think it looks "professional" and that I should go with an "older" style. I think he is full of crap, and I told him so!
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> I am currently really struggling with the professional> "woman" thing. As you know, I own my own> company and my partners will often suggest that I> might consider putting my hair up with my suits.>Maybe they would prefer the company of a CEO that doesn't set trends, but follows them. A "professional" with a cookie cutter corporate cut. Cool, efficient and nonalluring.Is working from home an option ;)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ally Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 11 2000 at 8:38pm
Karen--Don't let "Corporate America" dictate your look! Its standards are not only sexist ("Don't look too pretty or sexy, or men won't take you seriously!"), they're confining and superficial. The more we refuse to acknowledge these "professional attire guidelines," the less "standard" they'll become.Executives in a lot of cutting-edge companies are wearing bright-colored hair, mohawks, and body piercings. Stodgy traditionalists will eventually have to recognize that a prim and conventional buttoned-up look does NOT necessarily equal good service.Please stick it out. Wear your hair as you like it.Ally
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Jen Bahney View Drop Down
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My husband also gave me a hard time about wanting my hair to my waist. I don't know what his problem was... maybe he was afraid of it looking messy, or unkempt, or something. Anyway, he now sees how much pride I take in my hair and that it really makes me feel beautiful. Also, that other men find it really attractive. And that makes him feel good.Hang in there!!JenRelated Link:Bowers-Bahney Communications
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Thank you for your reply--your post is very encouraging! Sometimes I get depressed reading the comments on the Long Hair site because some of the men just absolutely worship long hair--and then my dear husband wants me to cut mine off! Its not fair! Why can't he be a little teensy weensy bit obsessive about hair like those men??? :) (I am so totally jealous that some of those men will actually brush out their sweetie's hair--WILLINGLY!)So how did you get your husband to change his attitude toward your long hair?Also, ditto regarding hair on the star from "Touched By An Angel" on the magazine cover this month. FYI: I was with my husband in the grocery store when I saw it, and I showed it to him because she really does have beautiful hair. He actually didn't like it! Bah humbug....I think he's just trying to be difficult with me.PS--Since you are also growing out your hair, how often do you get it trimmed? I'm just curious because my tendency is to trim it too often--thus, no net gain in hair length!> My husband also gave me a hard time about wanting my> hair to my waist. I don't know what his problem was...> maybe he was afraid of it looking messy, or unkempt,> or something. Anyway, he now sees how much pride I> take in my hair and that it really makes me feel> beautiful. Also, that other men find it really> attractive. And that makes him feel good.> Hang in there!!> Jen
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Holly Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 11 2000 at 8:39pm
Hey, I always thought it was over 40..but who cares, I think that notion is becoming a thing of the past, especially with celebrities endorsing it by wearing their own hair long after 40..Cher, Dyan Cannon, Jane Seymore..and also getting back to gray hair that is long, how about the actress who played the Aunt on "TWISTER"? I think hers is very attractive, and I'm sure others would agree. I'm 31, I have had long hair for the most part of my life, and I'm always going to keep it as long as it looks good. Many up-do's look very proffesional yet feminine. Not to knock short hair-I like many styles of that length as well. I just agree with the others, that you don't have to cut just because you hit the big 40 or that you need to look more "professional". It's just old fashioned bull you know what:)
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> Karen--> Don't let "Corporate America" dictate your> look! Its standards are not only sexist ("Don't> look too pretty or sexy, or men won't take you> seriously!"), they're confining and superficial.> The more we refuse to acknowledge these> "professional attire guidelines," the less> "standard" they'll become.> Executives in a lot of cutting-edge companies are> wearing bright-colored hair, mohawks, and body> piercings. Stodgy traditionalists will eventually have> to recognize that a prim and conventional buttoned-up> look does NOT necessarily equal good service.> Please stick it out. Wear your hair as you like it.> AllyHi Ally,I will try and be brave. It is just so hard when you are trying to gain a reputation. I have so many bumps on my head from hitting it against glass ceilings that I sometime am mistaken for a unicorn with multiple horns. :-)I grew up in a family where my parents refused to let me go to college "because it only made sense to send the boys". Needless to say, I paid my way through every single degree that I got...and I got three of them.Even then I was banging my head with sexist graduate school professors who didn't understand why women wanted to study engineering or software.My entire career I have had to kick and scream and fight and be 5x better and accept a lot less pay. You know the old song and dance.I guess I am a 1 part wimp because I am almost where I want to be after 20 years of business hell and so I don't want my hair to get in the way.On one hand I don't want to sell out...on the other hand....once I get to my personal finish line I think I would even be willing to wear a mohawk to meet with the lawyers.I guess if I had already done what Bill Gates had...it would be easier.Very recently (too recent to not still sting) I had a boss tell me that I would never go where I wanted in corporate America "because I did not have the RIGHT image". Again the hair thing.Unfortunately I have not yet met a male CEO that had an earring. My industry....software & telecom....is still very conservative. Only the hard core software gurus are showing up in flowered shirts and Birkenstocks....at least here in Dallas.I want to know where those trendsetter executives are so I can call them up and do business with them. :-) It would be refreshing and liberating to negotiate a contract with a CEO with a Mohawk.I will try to be brave, but I will need help and encouragement to hang in there.I am definitely not thinking of cutting my hair. Just hiding it a little.Thanks for your encouragement Ally. It meant a lot.Best wishes,Karen
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Hi Dan,Thanks so much for your reply.No...working at home is not an option. In fact, if I want to achieve what I want to achieve, I will have to be out in front of people all the time. So that is why the subject has come up before. I am sure it will again.Hmmmm, I need to figure a way to have it all except I am not sure that ever really works? Does it? Don't know but I would like to. :-)Best wishes,Karen> Maybe they would prefer the company of a CEO that> doesn't set trends, but follows them. A> "professional" with a cookie cutter> corporate cut. Cool, efficient and nonalluring.> Is working from home an option ;)
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Good grief, Karen, you are such an accomplished woman!!! Don't let this corporate crap get you down now -- and try not to sprout another "horn," as you put, over it. :) It's not that you don't have the right image, it's that the person telling you that has a narrow mind. This really infuriates me, because if Hollywood isn't trying to dictate *personal* style, then employers are. Forget it! You've worked so hard to grow out your hair and keep it healthy -- why diminish this particular accomplishment? It's an extension of yourself, and it's up to *you* as to how you wear it. Buck the trend, indeed!Just so you know, my boyfriend and some other male friends -- all of whom are professionals -- go through this same BS. My guy has long hair, and until he started working in an "alternative" type of architecture firm, he wasn't taken very seriously. Suddenly they realized, "Wow -- he may not fit into the cookie cutter image of his profession, but he has a brilliant brain!" My other male friends with long hair have actually been approached by a woman who had locked herself out of her car, and said, "I'm sure you all know how to break into a car, so could you please help me?" All of these stereotypes over HAIR! To which I reply, "Well, people like Jesus had long hair. . .would you have discriminated against him? Probably!"Hang in there!!! If you don't cut your hair (and you said you wouldn't, and we're all praying you won't, because you're such an inspiration!), are you going to wear it up?One more thing to keep in mind: if an employer was to make a remark about image/hair to members of several American Indian tribes, he could be hauled into court for a discrimination lawsuit (with a few others thrown in!), since their religious beliefs forbid them from cutting their hair. Just something to think about.
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I realize this is sort of a Betty Friedan, Feminine Mystique sort of comment but it's something I've been musing on for a while so I'll toss it out there. Its seems to me that people don't want older women to have long hair because it is sexy. Sexy has always been a little scary to folks. Women who are nearing 40 are clearly also becoming more powerful. In terms of their earning capacity and in terms of not particularily caring what other people think, ie., doing exactly what they want to do. As a woman nears 40 she start to make your own rules. That's a little scary to people too. Power and sex? Who now. Forcing women (with societal pressure) to cut their hair at 40 is a way to keep them in their place. It's a way of saying, okay, you can make money and be powerful, but by golly you're not going to have all of this unrestrained sexuality on top of it. I could go on for days on this, but I'd love to hear if anyone else feels the same.
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Who now, should be Whoa now. Your own rules, should be their own rules. Sorry for imposing my lack of attention on you all.
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> Hi Ally,> I will try and be brave. It is just so hard when you> are trying to gain a reputation. I have so many bumps> on my head from hitting it against glass ceilings that> I sometime am mistaken for a unicorn with multiple> horns. :-)> I grew up in a family where my parents refused to let> me go to college "because it only made sense to> send the boys". Needless to say, I paid my way> through every single degree that I got...and I got> three of them.> Even then I was banging my head with sexist graduate> school professors who didn't understand why women> wanted to study engineering or software.> My entire career I have had to kick and scream and> fight and be 5x better and accept a lot less pay. You> know the old song and dance.> I guess I am a 1 part wimp because I am almost where I> want to be after 20 years of business hell and so I> don't want my hair to get in the way.> On one hand I don't want to sell out...on the other> hand....once I get to my personal finish line I think> I would even be willing to wear a mohawk to meet with> the lawyers.> I guess if I had already done what Bill Gates had...it> would be easier.> Very recently (too recent to not still sting) I had a> boss tell me that I would never go where I wanted in> corporate America "because I did not have the> RIGHT image". Again the hair thing.> Unfortunately I have not yet met a male CEO that had> an earring. My industry....software &> telecom....is still very conservative. Only the hard> core software gurus are showing up in flowered shirts> and Birkenstocks....at least here in Dallas.> I want to know where those trendsetter executives are> so I can call them up and do business with them. :-)> It would be refreshing and liberating to negotiate a> contract with a CEO with a Mohawk.> I will try to be brave, but I will need help and> encouragement to hang in there.> I am definitely not thinking of cutting my hair. Just> hiding it a little.> Thanks for your encouragement Ally. It meant a lot.> Best wishes,> KarenHi Karen,Victory is much sweeter when achieve without compromise.You should come out to California to do business. Thereare high power executives wearing earrings and whatnotsout here in the left coast :-)Best wishes,Arthur
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Hi Karen,Having long hair myself, and working in the corporate world, I can appreciateyour concern....It is sad that so many other women, upon receiving advice to "present the 'right'image' and to "change their hairstyle" to look more professional, have interpretedthat as a recommendation to cut their hair shorter. So at the very least, you arefortunate in that you recognize that cutting your hair is not necessary to thepresentation of a "professional" image.In this respect, you have won 99% of the battle. At least you know you CANsimultaneously have long hair and be perceived as presenting a professional image.Deciding to "hide your hair a little" is not really a sell-out. Cutting it wouldbe a sell-out, given that you love yours long.We make many types and magnitudes of sacrifices for our jobs and our careers."Hiding your hair a little bit" could be seen as a tiny concession, because whenyou are not at work, you can wear your hair 100% the way you want it.I'd like to add that IMHO, Having a "professional-looking" hairstyle is much more amatter of how the hair is styled than it is of its length. For instance (to give anextreme example), short hair that has been spiked up with gel would probably be seenas unprofessional in most office settings.To me, professionalism has much, much more to do with one's words and actions, thanit does with a person's appearance. A woman whose appearance is considered classicallyfeminine who treats others with respect IS professional, whereas the man who wears asuit and tie but who is even slightly disrespectful of those whose appearance he dislikesis being UNprofessional.Hope you find my words to be of some comfort.Take care,Dave
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Gigi,I've chewed on a related issue..... I think that the power of a person's psycheis compromised when they are pressured into comforming to a shorn-haired form.This societal pressure is used as a way to keep people, men and women, "in line"(conformist sheep in "the flock"). Some might scoff at these words but I wouldask them to consider really thinking about the issue.People have a tendency to buy stuff that they are told will resolve theiranxieties towards basic human issues of the heart and soul. Hairstylistscan't sell you your own long hair, but they can -- and have, and do -- selldesires to cut what you have.Beware.Dave
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Hi,Thank you so much for your great response. I have decided that I will only "hide my hair" in the most formal of places. I have a great French Twist that I can do that allows me to just "cheat" a little. No new horns...I promise. :-)Thanks for the support. I do understand what your boyfriend went through though. My business partner has short hair, but a diamond earring and he got discriminated in his previous job even though he is a brilliant engineer. People would be very critical of the fact that he had an earring. Too bizarre.I found this great quote on another web site and I printed it out and posted it on my PC to remind me of many things, including being true to myself. :-) Long hair and ALL.Check it out...I think it is pretty great:ENDURANCE ~ FIDELITY ~ INTELLIGENCE"Getting ahead in a difficult profession requires avid faith in yourself. That is why some people with mediocre talent, but with great inner drive, go much further than people with vastly superior talent."~ Sophia Loren ~Thanks again. Your boyfriend is lucky to have you.Best wishes,Karen> Good grief, Karen, you are such an accomplished> woman!!! Don't let this corporate crap get you down> now -- and try not to sprout another "horn,"> as you put, over it. :) It's not that you don't have> the right image, it's that the person telling you that> has a narrow mind. This really infuriates me, because> if Hollywood isn't trying to dictate *personal* style,> then employers are. Forget it! You've worked so hard> to grow out your hair and keep it healthy -- why> diminish this particular accomplishment? It's an> extension of yourself, and it's up to *you* as to how> you wear it. Buck the trend, indeed!> Just so you know, my boyfriend and some other male> friends -- all of whom are professionals -- go through> this same BS. My guy has long hair, and until he> started working in an "alternative" type of> architecture firm, he wasn't taken very seriously.> Suddenly they realized, "Wow -- he may not fit> into the cookie cutter image of his profession, but he> has a brilliant brain!" My other male friends> with long hair have actually been approached by a> woman who had locked herself out of her car, and said,> "I'm sure you all know how to break into a car,> so could you please help me?" All of these> stereotypes over HAIR! To which I reply, "Well,> people like Jesus had long hair. . .would you have> discriminated against him? Probably!"> Hang in there!!! If you don't cut your hair (and you> said you wouldn't, and we're all praying you won't,> because you're such an inspiration!), are you going to> wear it up?> One more thing to keep in mind: if an employer was to> make a remark about image/hair to members of several> American Indian tribes, he could be hauled into court> for a discrimination lawsuit (with a few others thrown> in!), since their religious beliefs forbid them from> cutting their hair. Just something to think about.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote KAREN Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 11 2000 at 8:39pm
Hi Dave,You are a doll. Thanks for the great response. I was talking to my ex-husband Gary tonite on the phone. We have been divorced since 1981 but we talk about 4x a year on the phone.Gary lives in St. Louis and he has not seen me for about 5 years. He was asking me tonite how long my hair was. I said...to the top of my tush. He asked me how long I was going to grow it...I said...to my knees. Then he said the greatest thing. He said...well why stop THERE?I loved it. What a great response. We were talking about my business and he was telling me that I should never hide my hair. This is the same man that used to make me go to the hair stylist and get my hair cut into a "Farrah" do back in the 70s. :-) But he is right.And you are right too. I am certainly learning a lot about myself at this point with my hair.Thanks for all your great comments. As always Dave, you are a man of many wisdoms. :-)Best wishes,Karen> Hi Karen,> Having long hair myself, and working in the corporate> world, I can appreciate> your concern....> It is sad that so many other women, upon receiving> advice to "present the 'right'> image' and to "change their hairstyle" to> look more professional, have interpreted> that as a recommendation to cut their hair shorter. So> at the very least, you are> fortunate in that you recognize that cutting your hair> is not necessary to the> presentation of a "professional" image.> In this respect, you have won 99% of the battle. At> least you know you CAN> simultaneously have long hair and be perceived as> presenting a professional image.> Deciding to "hide your hair a little" is not> really a sell-out. Cutting it would> be a sell-out, given that you love yours long.> We make many types and magnitudes of sacrifices for> our jobs and our careers.> "Hiding your hair a little bit" could be> seen as a tiny concession, because when> you are not at work, you can wear your hair 100% the> way you want it.> I'd like to add that IMHO, Having a> "professional-looking" hairstyle is much> more a> matter of how the hair is styled than it is of its> length. For instance (to give an> extreme example), short hair that has been spiked up> with gel would probably be seen> as unprofessional in most office settings.> To me, professionalism has much, much more to do with> one's words and actions, than> it does with a person's appearance. A woman whose> appearance is considered classically> feminine who treats others with respect IS> professional, whereas the man who wears a> suit and tie but who is even slightly disrespectful of> those whose appearance he dislikes> is being UNprofessional.> Hope you find my words to be of some comfort.> Take care,> Dave
TAKE CARE WITH YOUR HAIR!
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