Women: Pay attention, this is important. Especially for you old ones (and by "old," I mean over 30 but not yet 40 -- women 50 and over, can you even read anymore at your age? I'll just refer to you as "pre-dead lady husks"). In a spate of breaking, hard-hitting news, an actual legal newspaper has finally exposed the bitter nugget of truth as to why you women -- you "older women" in particular -- may be sabotaging your careers. No, it's not your pursuit of work-life balance, it's not your historic battle against decades of workplace gender inequity; it's something far more insidious. It's your stupid, long hair.
This is an actual news story that appeared in an actual legal news publication. Because, obviously.
The article posed the question of whether "long hair is a bad career choice for older women." It cited a recent post by Vivia Chen on the legal blog The Careerist, which posited that women over 40 with long hair are "unsettling -- particularly if it is straight and hangs more than a few inches below the shoulder... They look rather sad and dated to me -- as if they're desperately trying to rechannel Joni Mitchell in her heyday."
In support of this argument, Chen cites the tragic example of Hillary Clinton, who, she notes, since "letting her hair grow... often looks haggard and rumpled," and who, as the Secretary of State of the United States of America, is clearly trying to rechannel Joni Mitchell in her heyday. Chen concludes that, if you don't want to jeopardize your career, "the safer course is for women to keep their hair simple and short."
I know. I know what you're thinking -- the only natural response to this debate: But how will this affect my chances of getting a man? Because science has proven that men prefer women with long hair. They just do. It's science. (What's that? You're a man reading this and you actually prefer ladies with shorter hair? Well, nice to meet you, liar. Why do you hate science? And yourself?) If we start lopping off our locks to protect our careers, then, by all accounts, guys won't love us anymore. And then what are we supposed to do? Pay for our own clothes? Buy our own houses? What's next, start opening business by ourselves?? This is so confusing! Math IS hard! WHO LET JONI MITCHELL IN HERE?
And then -- I'm sorry, what's that? What's that you say? Oh, you've just scraped your face off in an attempt to void everything about this from your memory, too? Good, we're on the same page, then.
Putting aside the obvious question, namely, in what wretched, a-hole of a universe should this story be considered suitable legal "news," the larger issue is that there are women out there -- especially ones with long hair -- who may actually read something like this and... seriously consider whether they should cut their hair. As a professional woman (as opposed to an amateur woman, apparently), I can assure you, from the bottom of my follicles: Your career success will have absolutely zero to do with how long or short your hair is. Now, success issues based on how good it looks is another discussion, but ones based on length alone? No.
If your hair is long and well-kempt, great. If it's short and well-kempt, great. If you're bald and well-kempt, great. If you're an idiot who's terrible at her job: RED ALERT, not great. If your hair, of any length, is a vile, slovenly mess to boot, even more not great -- but mostly because people like to work with other people who have basic hygiene skills and won't give them lice, not because they're terrified of what might happen if your sassy locks are juxtaposed with the horror of a face that has the nerve to be over 40 years old. Any other "debate" about anything to do with the length of your hair in the context of your career is as useless as it is embarrassing. And please note: If you get the sense that your employer is concerned about the length of your hair -- and you have a job as anything other than a hair model -- time to get the hell out of that job, sweetness.
Off to go weep silently under my desk. With all 18 inches of my wavy, natural, murderously long brown hair.
This post originally appeared on Sweet Hot Justice.
Follow Maria de Cesare on Twitter: www.twitter.com/sweethotjustice