My hair fixation dates back to the victory days of Olympic Figure Skating Champ Dorothy Hamill, when I proudly imitated her famous wedge hair cut. Later, during the “Charlie’s Angel” era, I preferred modeling Farrah Fawcett’s feathered and tousled hair rather than Kate Jackson’s traditional bob. At age 11, I begged my mother to grant me permission to have my hair chopped into layers in order to achieve the famous “Angel’s” look. Serious disappointment set in when my hair’s fine texture would not support the iconic hairstyle. By the time I reached high school, I’d found the perfect solution to copying the look of my latest idol, Madonna. By then, my damaged, over-processed, permed, and teased mane was coiffed with my new found grooming concoction— hair mousse.
Throughout the years, I’ve suffered from hair envy that has prompted me to go from: long to short, single-layered to multi-layered, straight to angled, and smooth to curly in no time. I won’t even begin to get into my hair color experiments (Jennifer’s Aniston’s chunky highlights). I attribute these past drastic hairstyle changes to having lacked a clear understanding of my: goals, preferences, lifestyle, personality, or my physical characteristics.
Three years ago, during a self-evaluation I determined a conventional, yet fashionable, angled bob (ala Victoria Beckham) would suit me. I’d never been happier with my hair. That is until a few weeks ago, when I got the sudden urge to try the shag similar to that of actress, Lisa Rinna. I’ve carried two pregnancies since I last complained about my hair’s fine texture. Thanks to my hormonal changes, I now have thick, wavy hair. The change in my hair texture was one of two main reasons why going with a shaggy look was a huge mistake. The second reason had to do with my social and professional image: the messy, untamed look just doesn’t fit my career profile.
At first, I tried to rationalize my decision by telling myself I was well overdue for a makeover. After all, I encourage jobseekers and working professionals to come out of their shells and try new and different styles all the time. Yet, as I gathered the feedback throughout my seven days of sporting my shag, the truth became very apparent: the look contradicted the rest of my image. My local supermarket clerk went from calling me “Ma’am” to “Sweetie.” The moms at my daughter’s school said it looked “fun” and “cute.” In her thick Spanish accent, my own mom asked why I wanted to look like Farrah again. My 9-year-old daughter innocently inquired, “Why does your head look so big?” At a book signing, an attendee asked if I was Lizandra Vega’s publicist. The final straw was drawn when I urged my husband/business partner to give me his honest opinion on my hairstyle. After 17 years of marriage, he knows not to beat around the bush, so he responded, “It makes you look middle-aged.” I can’t condemn his blatant candor. I asked for it. In addition, he’s not just my husband, but also a trusted colleague in the field of career counseling. His opinion along with the recorded reactions of others “dear” and “not so dear” to me, as well as my professional assessment about what the style communicated led me right back in my hair dresser’s chair. I was thrilled to recognize myself with every snip. My bob is back! It’s a few inches shorter than I’d normally keep it during the winter, it’s much more textured than it’s been in years, but that’s about as different as I want it to be right now.
I encourage you to be open-minded about new and improved hair cuts. However, (regardless of your gender) it is important to ask yourself the following questions before committing to changes in your hair’s appearance:
Do you want to portray a sophisticated, intelligent, authoritative, trendy, or sensual, “bed head” look? Are your intentions to end up in a boardroom or a bedroom?
Have you always admired or gravitated toward a particular length, and is there a reason for doing so?
Are you choosing a complicated, celebrity-inspired, hairstyle that requires way too much maintenance in your everyday life? How does it cross-over from your personal to career lifestyles?
Would your employer describe you as friendly, creative, cool, endearing, introverted or unapproachable? Does your hairstyle reflect these traits?
Are you self-conscious about particulars such as big ears, a pronounced forehead, and a protruding nose or chin that you feel compelled to camouflage with your hair? Do you want to off-set rounded facial features with pin-straight hair or balance angular features with curls?
Once you’ve shed light on the answers to these questions, you will be able to get your hair right on track if you make an impulse decision, as I did. Just don’t compromise your image with a hairstyle that doesn’t precisely communicate who you are, especially in business. It’s better to “cut your losses,” (no pun intended). Start from scratch and throw a few hair extensions if you need them to hold you over while your hair grows out.