12/18/2013 01:37 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Shampoo the Stereotype

When I was in high school, I often rocked an awkward hairstyle that my friends referred to as "The Hipchick bun."

(Long story short: "Hipchick"was my nickname because "Hipchick1812″ had been my AOL screen name since third grade. Yes... third grade. And the "bun" was my method of bunching my long, curly hair into a giant, fluffy bird's nest on the top of my forehead.)


The look was far from stylish or "feminine," but I wore it that way because I always found my hair to be a serious distraction.

I couldn't stand the way it felt on my neck and shoulders. I hated how it got in my face and blinded me like a shaggy dog. If it was down, all I wanted to do was put it back behind me in a ponytail and get it out of the way.

Luckily, as a 14-year-old sitting in Biology class, it was perfectly acceptable to wear my hair in any manner I pleased. But let's fast-forward nine years...

Today, I'm a 23-year-old working in corporate America and I'm expected to look clean-cut, professional and sophisticated each day. Executives aren't going to take me seriously if I'm wearing a suit but have alfalfa sprouting from my scalp.

So, each morning I endure a brutal game of tug-of-war against my hair brush, followed by a heated version of laser tag using my blow drier.

After 30 minutes to an hour of this so-called "styling," I stare at my half-wet, half-dry, half-curly, half-straight messy hair and ask myself, WHY DO I BOTHER? Why not cut it all off so that it's the same, manageable length worn by the average businessman? A length that requires nothing more than a comb -- and the optional hair gel?

Trust me, I've thought about making this change. However, I'm simply not as daring as Beyoncé, Jennifer Lawrence or Miley Cyrus, three of the biggest names in Hollywood who have chopped off their long locks and opted for shorter, sleeker, more manageable pixie cuts.

And honestly, I admire them for doing so -- for being bold enough to ignore the countless critics saying that their short hair makes them look, "less feminine" or "like a little British boy."

I hate that our society has become programmed to believe that long hair is for girls and short hair is for boys. It goes hand-in-hand with notions like, "girls' nurseries should be pink and boys' nurseries should be blue"; or "little girls should play with dolls and little boys should play with trucks"; or "teenage girls should buy makeup and teenage boys should buy video games." The list could go on and on.

And despite the progress that both women -- and men -- are making to attempt to shatter these stereotypes, our society still places an alarming amount of emphasis (and scrutiny) on a woman's physical appearance.

Women are continuously held to a Photoshopped version of unnatural, unhealthy, unattainable beauty standards.

Even in 2013, a time when women account for about 60% of U.S. bachelor degree holders and rising, the pressure to achieve the perfect hair, the perfect face and the perfect body is rising as well.

And where is this pressure coming from? More often than not, it comes from the companies selling these "perfect" beauty products.

The ones that say, "buy this lotion and your skin will become irresistibly touchable to this gorgeous man." Or, "buy this conditioner and your hair will be smoother and silkier than silk itself."

But last week, something unusual happened. A hair product company released an advertisement that did not depict a magical, fairytale land filled with shiny-haired-rainbows and blatant sex appeal.

Instead, Pantene Pro-V released an advertisement that depicted... reality.

It's a 60-second video that demonstrates gender inequality in the workplace, and in case you've missed it, you can watch it below.

So this week, I'd like to applaud Pantene Pro-V for being proactive in the fight for gender equality. From the bottom of my split-ends, I thank you for shampoo-ing the stereotype.

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