Cost and Value of a Professional Image: Hair
My hair is pretty long, past my shoulders. It is naturally straight (even when I try to make it curly or wavy). I have it cut with long layers and sideswept bangs.
One of my struggles at work is feeling like I’m not always taken seriously at first. I do not think it is because I am a woman, I think it is because I am young. My team is very much older and experienced. I think I look even younger than i really am. I have a solid 5 years of experience (plus an M.S.!), which in my opinion, is way out of the “newbie” category and well into the “young, bright, talented up-and-comer” category. (That a category, right?!)
I toyed with the idea of cutting my hair in an attempt to look older and more professional. But I’m really hesitant. Shorter hair is a lot more work, and in my “real life”, I don’t want to look older! I queried Twitter, and popular opinion was: it matters, and “unstyled hair” is probably the worst. (Hmmm…. I usually air dry my hair and do a quick flat iron, or I pull it back. Pretty unstyled!)
I do not think it will make a big difference at work. But I don’t work with a lot of women. Most of the ones I do work with have similarly low maintenance hair. Even the highest ranked woman in SoCal has longish relatively unstyled hair, so I take that as a good sign. I think it is a little bit of the SoCal casual culture. You can have fancy hair, or you can have short spiky-ish hair with blue in it. No one cares, as long as what comes out of your mouth can be taken seriously. So I think that’s it. I need to continue to speak up at work and let my words say what my hair does not. This is not true in all company cultures. What about yours?
As a compromise, I’m going to (try to!) be better about trims, etc. My current girl costs about $65 (including tip) w/free bang trims. I’m also going to (try to) be better about make-up and eyebrows. I pluck regularly, but I only get them professionally done right before I have something important, like a big meeting or a vacation (actually, same with my hair). My nails? Probably a lost cause.