Double Standards: Why a haircut only matters if you’re a woman

Double Standards: Why a haircut only matters if you’re a woman

Here we are. In case you needed a reminder, the year is 2020. We can all agree advancements in equality for women have come a long way in the past century. Women make up nearly 50 percent of the global population, and 47 percent of the active workforce in the United States according to the last census. But equal pay for equal work is still out of reach, and many expectations for women, especially working women, often juggling work and family responsibilities, are simply unrealistic.

As is so often the case, when a woman reaches a position of power, leadership, or a measure of success, attention is often detracted from her accomplishments and focus turns to her physical appearance and fashion or hairstyle choices. It makes me wonder, in our modern world, why is a woman’s appearance still so relentlessly scrutinized?

This past week there was outrage in the news when Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House Speaker, received an “illicit” wash and blowout at a salon in San Francisco that opened just for her amidst the forced pandemic closures. But of all the things she could do, this hardly seems outrageous. Sure, it’s annoying to see anyone-politicians, celebrities, whoever -flaunt their privilege and get a service the rest of us have been waiting months for, but newsworthy? Hardly. Remember when John Edwards was caught paying hundreds to a hairstylist to meet him on the campaign trail and style his hair? But I suppose that was justified, not to be mistaken for vanity.

Pelosi is not the only female politician to bypass the rules in pursuit of a haircut. Earlier this year in April, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot was called out for having a stylist privately cut her hair when salons were closed. (The stylist posted pictures on social media of her with the mayor.) But Lightfoot, true to her straightforward nature, wouldn't be shamed, and defended herself: “I’m the public face of this city. I’m on national media and I’m out in the public eye.”

Lightfoot was right. Any public figure, male or female, needs to look their best, or at least professional and presentable. For women to have to defend this notion over and over again is absurd. Image matters. 

Just look around, with the Democratic nomination of Kamala Harris for Vice President of the United States, attention has once again been turned toward her appearance. And her hair is always perfect. As is Melania Trump’s. We all know somebody professional somewhere, behind the scenes, has been doing their hair multiple times during this pandemic. Accept it. The best we can hope for is that it’s been done in a socially responsible, safe, mask-wearing manner.

About the Author

As a creative contributor and independent consultant for a wide range of media outlets, Kelly Vrajitoru enjoys helping brands and entrepreneurs communicate effectively across diverse platforms. Whether your company desires quality content development, blog posts, photography or other freelance work, Ms. Vrajitoru’s journalism experience will enhance and expand your reach. Contact her via LinkedIn at  for a professional consultation.

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