Is Long Hair Bad For Your Career?

Hair, flow it, show it
Long as God can grow, my hair

Let it fly in the breeze and get caught in the trees
Give a home to the fleas, in my hair
A home for fleas, a hive for the buzzing bees
A nest for birds, there ain’t no words
For the beauty, splendor, the wonder of my hair-Hair

When we are little girls, many of us dream of having long, beautiful hair. It probably has to do with the fact that princesses always seem to have the longest hair. But eventually we grow up and develop personalities and realize our hair doesn’t totally represent us. It is merely an accessory that happens to grow out of our head. But can the way you wear your hair, specifically if you wear it very long, hurt your career?

In the book Nice Girls Don’t Get The Corner Office there is a theory that long hair can be detrimental to your career. First of all, long hair can easily look unprofessional if you don’t put a lot of time into it. It needs to be brushed perfectly so it doesn’t look like you just stepped off the hippie commune and straight into your office. This is why many women who wear their long, wear it up at work so it is out of their face and they don’t have to worry about it. But another reason long hair can be bad is because it affects your body language, which we all know, can make a huge impact. The minute you start to twirl or play with your hair you instantly become that 12 year old girl who is too afraid to answer the question the teacher asks. Kat Griffin, founder of the corporate fashion blog Corporette, told The Grindstone:

“People say if it’s too long it overwhelms you and by refusing to cut it you are perceived as a little girl which that works against you. I have a friend with hair literally down to her butt but she works in a creative field so it’s okay. But it gets a little weird in the corporate world. The other side is women who play with their hair. It doesn’t matter if you’re 60 or 20. Playing with your hair makes you perceived as insecure.”

We decided to ask some working women and men their opinions on long hair in the workplace.

Alexandra F. Figueredo is an Empowerment & Success Coach who worked in corporate banking for years. She told us:

“I am a young-looking woman and have naturally curly hair, which I keep very long. While I was still working in corporate banking, from my first job at 22, I kept my hair slicked back and in a pony tail. Not only did I think it looked more professional, but it also prevented me from touching my hair, which I have a tendency to do when it is down. However, I went through a stage where I straightened it every day for about two years, and always had it down. Not only is my hair long, and of course I touched it constantly, but I am more attractive when it is down; so I got a lot more attention from both my coworkers and clients. At first I felt insecure about it, and then I realized I would use it to my advantage as a point of differentiation. People underestimated me anyway because I looked young and was attractive, so it was always fun to get surprised looks from clients when I would say, “Yes, I’m your loan officer”!

I worked in banking for nearly ten years, and I am now a coach. I don’t find it as much of a problem now, I feel like I can be “free” now because I am not in a corporate environment. The rules don’t really apply any more, although if I am in a very corporate or professional setting, I still have a tendency to wear my hair slicked back in a ponytail.”

Photo: HamsterMan/Shutterstock.com

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    • The Girl Next Door

      I am 27 and recently cut my very long hair to shoulder length. I think very long hair can look a bit skanky in the workplace. Also, since my hair is very fine it was starting to look scraggly and unkept. When I’m working I almost always had to wear it in a ponytail and that got annoying. I think a shoulder length hairstyle looks more sophisticated and professional – plus it’s lower-maintenance!

    • mm

      “like a bimbo”….?? wow, judgmental much? That sort of language is exactly why it’s harder for women to progress – coming from a woman. Insecure, shy, nervous…those are words to describe a woman who plays with her hair at work. Bimbo? Not so much.

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