Power Hairdressing : Five Breeds Of Workplace Power-Do
We live in a society obsessed with hair.
Marie Antoinette knew it. So did Jackie Kennedy. Whether shaving it or growing it, waxing it or plucking it, threading it or losing it or dyeing it or bleaching it, hair has become, over the years, a symbol of both degradation and empowerment – particularly for women. It is a political statement if we don’t shave our armpits and a finger to the man if we do our heads. But never, ever, is hair simply that: hair.
No woman knows this better than the bona fide career girl. We see them in our magazines and our offices: the power player with the perfect bob, the star seller with her thick ‘n’ glossy mane. But what are the ‘dos that really say “can do”?
If hair is a statement, then these five barnets are crying out for your respect.
The Power Pob
It was Victoria Beckham – aka Posh Spice – who first popularised the ‘posh bob’. These days, however, there’s only one thing that ‘p’ stands for: political.
The ‘do of choice among the ladies of the world stage, the pob can be seen on every major player from Theresa May to Hilary Clinton. A short bob ranging from the buttered and wispy (Clinton) to the forthright and androgynous (Nicola Sturgeon), nothing says “I’m capable” like an exposed ear and a barely there blow-dry.
The pob is for women who prize capability above glamour and want everyone to know it. Even Anna Wintour’s mirror-like helmet is more fearsome than fashion.
Icons: Angela Merkel, Theresa May, Hilary Clinton.
The Ladylike Lob
The more forgiving cousin of the pob, the ‘lob’ – or ‘long bob’ – is the favoured barnet of the world’s leading businesswomen. Lobs usually take the form of beautifully kempt curtains that fall between the chin and shoulders.
A lob is softer than a pob and more traditional too. Its relative feminity enables powerful women to assert themselves in the workplace with minimum challenge to gender norms, sparing the self-esteem of any fragile men who operate around them. It’s also a classic mum-cut. Don’t worry guys; your egos are safe with these ladies.
Icons: Sheryl Sandberg, Marissa Mayer, Arianna Huffington.
The Action Afro
Google image the words ‘unprofessional hair’. Go on, try it. What do you see? Not rainbow-coloured curls. Not lank white locks. Nothing at all – except female Afro-American hairstyles.
Whether it’s braids, dreadlocks or just plain natural curls, black hair has long been unfavourably compared to its white, Asian or Hispanic counterparts. As a result of society’s frankly racist preferences, many black women feel the need to straighten or chemically relax their hair in order to appear ‘professional’.
Well, what if you don’t? Yes, we know Michele Obama processes hers. But Ursula Burns, CEO of Xerox and one of the most powerful women in America, wears her natural hair proudly – as do countless other black leaders including Paula Madison and Valerie Amos.
Want to take control at work? Put down the straighteners and bring out the ‘fro.
Icons: Ursula Burns, Valerie Amos, Esi Eggleston Bracey.
The Short Short
If the lob is the man-friendly power cut of the office, the short short is its opposite: a polarising ‘do reviled by bigots as much as it is admired by gender progressives.
How many times have we seen internet trolls question a female celebrity’s commitment to the chop? When actress and supermodel Cara Delevingne recently opted for a buzz cut, she called out critics on Instagram. “I’m tired of society defining beauty for us,” she wrote. “Strip away the clothes. Wipe off the makeup, cut off the hair.”
Short hair is a political statement. It is a declaration of ownership of one’s body and an assertion that you rise above traditional, male-gaze-driven beauty standards. It is, in many ways, the most powerful cut of the lot.
Icons: Sinead O’Connor, Cara Delevingne, Ellen DeGeneres.
The Badass Blow-Dry
For those who just can’t part with their long, luscious locks, one option remains: the power blow-dry. Poker-straight for high-maintenance vibes, or with a slight wave for a less severe effect, long hair only works as a power ‘do if it is styled to within an inch of its life. Why? Because anything less looks – shock horror! – like you haven’t even thought about it.
Not for you the easy kinks of Kate Moss or Cara. It’s thick and hyper-controlled or nothing. Your hair is your status symbol. If you put half as much effort into your work as you do into your mane, you are a force to be reckoned with.
Icons: Amal Clooney, Kate Middleton, all the Trump women.
This guest post was authored by Inspiring Interns
Inspiring Interns is a graduate recruitment agency which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and giving out graduate careers advice. To hire graduates or browse graduate jobs, visit their website.