Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hair today, gone tomorrow


I'm about to graduate and start looking for my first job. I've got very curly hair, but I've never seen any woman with curls on an anchor desk. Are curls taboo?

Well, I've never seen an anchor with curls either. Not that curly hair isn't attractive, but tradition says it does lack the gravitas necessary for the desk. (Don't blame me, I didn't make the rules.) If I were you I'd straighten it.

The subject of hairstyles is a touchy one in the news business. Of course, we're talking about the women here, since the men are pretty much all stuck with the same style... traditional, parted on the side, and conservative. About the only change you ever see in a man's hair is when it falls out.

But women are subject to a different standard when it comes to hair. Unfair? No argument here. It has nothing to do with your journalistic abilities. You never hear anything about Brian Williams' hair, but Katie and Diane are under constant scrutiny. Over the years I've seen more viewer reaction to a woman's hairstyle and/or color than anything else. It's either, "Wow, she looks great!" or "What the hell did she do to her hair?"

Two things seem to make women drastically change their hair... management, and the inability to find a job.

I worked in one shop with an anchor who had gorgeous hair that hit her shoulders. It looked professional, but management thought she would look better as a pixie. In reality, she would have looked ridiculous, and thankfully she didn't cut it.

I worked with another reporter with a Nordic heritage. She was as fair skinned as you could be, with nearly platinum hair that was her natural color. The ND went up to her one day and asked her to dye her hair brown, since we had too many blondes on the staff. Thankfully, again, she didn't oblige.

Then there's an anchor I see when I work in a market that I visit on a fairly regular basis. She's known as "garish hair woman" and every time I see her it's a new color, style or both. It's as if she's trying to find the right combination of style and shade of blonde that will get her another job. But the end result is that she looks fake. I noticed her when she first broke in and she looked great as a brunette with terrific brown eyes to match.

Any changes in hairstyle or color should be subtle and gradual, so as not to shock the viewer. And if you think going blonde will improve your chances, well, let's just say there's a glut of fair haired girls out there. There's no such term as a "cookie cutter brunette."

If you're a natural blonde, fine, but if you're not, you're taking a big risk in trying to go lighter. It works for some people, but for most it doesn't.

If you're going for a new style that demands a serious cut, think twice. Change it gradually if you're going to do it.


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