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We all know the importance of first impressions. Our physical appearance, despite the fact that we would like to think differently, contributes to that vital first impression that someone forms of us. But did you know that there are women who dye their hair to increase their chances of getting ahead in the workplace? Read more about this in the story of Eileen Carey, head of a successful technology company based in Silicon Valley.
Blond to Brown
When launching her business Cary had to pitch to get the investment needed to grow her business. Before pitching she was advised to dye her blond hair brown. The lady giving the advice had worked in the financial sector for many years and pointed out that at the time there were several successful female CEOs with brown hair. The advice was based on the psychological theory, mere-exposure effect, where people develop a preference for that which is familiar to them. Certainly in Carey’s case, when people are taking a financial risk investing in her business this advice can work to her advantage.
She decided to follow the advice and was happy she did. When she was blond she was often compared with Elizabeth Holmes, who was at the time was all over the press for the Theranos scandal. “ By coloring my hair brown I looked a bit older and I needed this. I felt with the darker color I was being taken more seriously”.
In addition to her changing her hair, she decided to work on the rest of her appearance. She swapped her lenses for glasses and started to wear more androgynous clothes. ‘ In a bar, I received more attention with blond hair than brown’. This knowledge I used to my advantage. To be successful in my industry I like my appearance to attract as little interest as possible, definitely in a sexual sense. I want to be seen as a business leader and not as a sexual object. The dividing line is often difficult in this industry’.
Don’t touch my hair…..
Every story has two sides. On one hand, I respect people who pursue their dreams with such vigor and do everything to achieve them. Even when it comes to changing their appearance. On the other hand, it is pretty sad that a natural hair color like blonde needs to be dyed to make a woman come across as being a serious business professional.
I am the proud owner of dyed dark red hair for about 20 years. My hairdresser has often remarked that the color does not give me a professional appearance and I agree with him. A few years ago, I had him dye my hair brown as an experiment. Not to look more professional, I did it because I wanted to see how I would feel with a more quiet, natural color. The result, it made me very unhappy. I no longer knew how to dress or what make-up to wear. I felt like I had lost my direction because of this color change. I was no longer the Aileen I was before.
I was a brunette for only five days. On day five I turned up on my hairdressers‘ doorstep at closing time. He laughed and commented that I had not even lasted the week. He asked if I wanted to give it a go for another couple of days but luckily he wife grabbed me by the hand, pulled me into the salon and told that she too had once dyed her blond locks brown and was miserable. That was all the convincing I needed and within half an hour I was back to my trusty old red locks. At that moment I not only had my hair color back but also my lust for life. Lesson Learnt: no brunette for me!
Have you ever dyed your hair to look more serious? Would you consider it?