Friday, July 20, 2012

Anne Hathaway, white courtesy phone. Your hair is calling.

Let me say that I have always liked Anne Hathaway. I think she's a fine actress, very versatile, and is attractive in that Julia Roberts sort of way.

And then I saw a picture of what she had done to her hair.

Miss Hathaway hacked (and really, that's the only way to describe her cut) off her hair for a part in a new movie. I realize she doesn't need to look glamorous for a part in Les Miz, but surely those Hollywood magicians could have put her hair in a bun and hid it under a wig instead of having the woman run around like she'd had a run-in with a weed whacker. The pixie look doesn't work for her in a major way.

Alas, my reaction was that of a typical man.

Which brings us to the always touchy subject of women's hair in the television news business.

While females have come a long way when it comes to equality of the sexes, hair still remains a lot more important for women than for men. Let's face it, guys pretty much stick with the same style our entire lives. The only changes occur when it either falls out, turns gray, or both. (Thank goodness for Just for Men, bringing a different kind of equality of the sexes to the peroxide aisle at Walgreens.)

But even though it is 2012, the glass ceiling still exists when it comes to women's hair. You might be the best journalist on staff, but if your hairstyle or color doesn't meet with management's approval, all of that talent can be overlooked.

Over the years I cannot even count the number of discussions held by management regarding a woman's hairstyle. In one case we had a GM who basically started every meeting with a comment about the hairstyles of the women in the newsroom. He felt every woman on the air should have a pixie cut. The women we had on staff would have looked ridiculous, and thankfully they refused the constant suggestions to hack off their locks.

In another case we had, according to the ND, "too many blondes" on staff. He asked one gal of Nordic descent to dye her hair brown. She, too, would have looked ridiculous.

Finally, I once had a recent grad drop by for an interview. She had gorgeous strawberry red hair and was actually worried that her hair color could hold her back since she wasn't blonde. I told her to leave her hair alone, and she went on to a solid career as a copper top. (Full disclosure: I'm married to a redhead, so I'm biased in that regard.)

Bottom line, we're still working in a very superficial business, and women are held to a higher standard than men when it comes to appearance. Have you noticed that a certain network shoots a certain female anchor in soft focus? That a certain network has an abundance of brown-eyed blondes who dyed their roots brown?

Several years ago someone did a study and found that ten percent of the women in the US are natural blondes, while seventy percent of news anchors favor the Goldilocks look. The study did not say how many of those seventy percent got the color out of a bottle. But it illustrated the superficial nature of our business.

Perhaps it is because there are more men in management positions, perhaps it goes back to that old commercial which asked, "Is it true blondes have more fun?" But the bottom line is still there. I often find myself telling female clients to cut their hair or get a new style. Not because I think it changes their credibility, but because I know it will help them in their job search. (I never tell anyone to color their hair, by the way.)

What does all this mean? Basically, that some things haven't changed and probably never will. So ladies, go out and kick ass on a story today, just make sure you don't have a hair out of place.

Meanwhile, the timer just went off and I have to wash out the Just for Men. It targets only the gray, you know.


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