Listen up, long-haired ladies over 40. If you are looking for a job, or have a job and want to keep it, you best be getting yourselves to the hair salon immediately. Accordingly to a mean-spirited and small-minded article written by Vivia Chen of The Careerist, your messy, untidy hair not only makes you look bad, but is “playing havoc” with your career. And if your hair is blonde to boot, you are “sad and dated” and “trying to rechannel Joni Mitchell in her heyday.” She calls out Hillary Clinton’s hair, which says has been letting her hair grow like “an unruly potted plant” and thus looks “haggard and rumpled.”
Ms. Chen cites an unnamed California entertainment lawyer in support of her view that an older woman’s “mature facial features” don’t jive with “youthful” long hair. She ends by saying that maybe even younger women shouldn’t take the “risk” of having longer hair and having it look messy.
First off, I’m a lawyer in New York. While I was in law school, I worked as a paralegal full-time and went to school at night. I had long hair. Though I saw plenty of women with long hair in the workplace with long hair, when I started interviewing for jobs, I cut mine off. It killed me to do it. And in interviewing and eventually finding a job, I found that plenty of women—old and young —had long hair. I regretted my decision. My hair is a bit longer now, and I’m turning 41 next month (ugh!). It’s also dyed red. I’m sure Ms. Chen would have a field day with that as well. Too bright, too loud. A family member said that to me once, I ignored her unsolicited advice. I’m comfortable with myself and my appearance and no one is going to tell me what I can do with it. Maybe because I am older now, I feel more secure and less inclined to be pushed around.
Obviously, I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to look appropriate in the workplace. But I think there comes a point when you start becoming misogynistic and infringing on a woman’s personal autonomy. Continue reading