As a business mom, I have the best of both worlds. I eat breakfast with my toddler at her own pace, and I work in the evenings at my own pace. My wardrobe consists of comfy lounge wear and smart business wear (and almost nothing in between). But there is one area where being a mom and a business woman both work against me.
I’m talking about hairstyle.
First, let’s talk about “Mom Hair.”
Mom hair seems to be relegated to the “no muss, no fuss” chapter in cosmetology textbooks. If you can’t dunk your head in the sink and shake it dry, it’s not selfless enough to be a mom cut.
Believe it or not, the done-up mama incurs some raised eyebrows from other moms. Nobody wants to sit next to the girl who showed up to story time at the Library with flawless hair and makeup, because she obviously thinks she’s better than you. How dare she spend 40 minutes making herself look feminine when she could have used that time to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar to her toddler an extra 700 times.
Some business moms take their non-traditional career path as license to go for the fringe. Side shaves, faux-hawks, ombre shades of silver and pink. I walked into a hair salon and asked for a side-shave to hide my post-partum balding and the stylist gave me mom-bangs and a shoulder-length cut instead. Apparently, it’s regulation. She had to. I’m a mom.
Then, there’s “Business Hair.”
The pixie cut is still code for “I’m a woman who is serious about her career.” Barbara Corcoran, Suze Orman, Claire Underwood, you get it. It says “I’ve thrown off the mantle of femininity, I’m too busy changing the status quo to bother with my hair.”
When I Google “professional LONG hairstyles” I get pages and pages of braids. Big, complicated, I’m-a-princess braids.
What is a business mom to do? (Shave her head, obviously.)
I have no problem with the no-muss, no-fuss look. I have no problem with the pixie cut. My only problem happens to be that I love my long, chestnut brown hair. Yes, most days it goes up in a ponytail or a messy bun. And not the sexy, Pinterest “oops, you caught me looking fabulous” messy bun that requires dry shampoo and bobby pins, I mean the “I don’t want to know what it looks like, just keep it out of my tea” messy bun.
But once or twice a month, I give it some fussing (and some mussing) and spend the rest of the day tossing my hair in all it’s glory. I don’t do it for my husband or my business or to make my pixie cut friends envious. I wear long hair because it makes me feel like ME.
I talked to my hair stylist about the business-woman hair dogma, and she gave me some great advice for keeping your professional image AND your hair.
Ladies, if you love your long hair, if you believe that moms deserve some vanity, if you think it’s time that a business woman is allowed to keep her hair and still be taken seriously, then here are three styles that have “power mama” written all over them.
Blunt bangs give you a clean, smart look and contrast beautifully when you sweep your hair up into a top knot on lazy days or curl it into soft waves for date night. “The reason women go with a pixie cut is because it’s a status thing,” my stylist told me. “They want people to know that they are well off enough to have their hair cut all the time.” Blunt bangs also accomplish that message. Make the commitment to get them cleaned up every two or three weeks, and get yourself a fro-yo while you’re out because you deserve it.
Lifted and wrapped ponytail
Thank you Oprah! The matron saint of business moguls herself has been sporting a sleek ponytail for everything from intimate interviews to red carpet events. It’s a hit! This look is great if your hair has thinned out over time (or if you’ve pulled it out over time! Haha, #kidding #notkidding) Spray some mousse or dry shampoo into your roots to give them some body, then smooth the rest into a ponytail and twist a lock of hair around the hair tie. “A low bun or chignon is another classic that never goes out of style.” BAM! You’re ready to glide into a meeting and whip things into shape.
“A lot of women are told that curly hair is unprofessional, and they feel pressured into getting a blowout once a week. It’s terrible for the hair, and they shouldn’t have to do that to be taken seriously.” If you have naturally curly hair, like MHM founder Ashley Meyer, the key is to avoid frizz. (I see you giving me that “no shit” look, stay with me.) Find a good product that gives you uniform, glossy curls. If it’s in your way, gently gather at the base of your neck or into a french twist that is loose enough to show off the glorious texture of your hair. Then roar, because you are so fiercely you.
“The key is to look kempt. If your hair is messy and unkempt, people are less likely to take you seriously.”
How do you handle your hair? Post your go-to hair products on the Facebook page, and give your stylist a shout-out if they make you feel powerful AND feminine!
Emma Fulenwider is our MHM team writer, covering the many aspects of Mom-preneur life. A mother of two and memoir writer by trade, she runs Cedar Pen Life Stories from her home in Sacramento.