Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hillary Clinton's hair

A few months ago someone told me that she thought Hillary Clinton’s unflattering hairstyle caused her to lose credibility as Secretary of State. Now, she didn’t say “Hillary Clinton’s messy hair,” or “greasy hair,” or “offensive and outrageous hair” – no, she was simply referring to a hairstyle that was not complimentary.

[Edit: At this point I feel compelled to mention something that I wrote in the comments below, lest you think I'm complaining just for the sake of complaining. If this type of comment were a one-time thing, I wouldn't have written a blog post. But I've heard a lot of people at one time or another say crazy things like, "She so smart, why doesn't she dress better?" or "I would never hire a woman who didn't wear makeup." And I'm tired of hearing people say those things, and think someone needs to point it out.]

I have a problem with this for two reasons. (Okay, three reasons, if you count the fact that I think Hillary Clinton is awesome and no one should say anything bad about her ever.) The first reason is: it’s not my business, or anyone else’s, to criticize Hillary Clinton’s hairstyle. Oh, that doesn’t mean I don’t have my moments of looking at someone’s hair and thinking, “That looks terrible” – but I really shouldn’t. Because who knows, maybe that woman you criticize really loves the hairstyle you think is ugly, and maybe she would hate the hairstyle you think is pretty. And anyway, it’s her hair, not yours, so why does it matter anyway? Or maybe in Hillary Clinton’s case, she has adopted a utilitarian style because she has a stressful job and doesn’t want to spend any more time on her hair than she has to. Really, for a government employee in the public eye, I think the only guidelines for hair should be: not outrageous (i.e. a hot pink mohawk), and not dirty.

The second, and main, reason this person’s statement bothered me so much is that Hillary Clinton’s job performance isn’t affected by the way she wears her hair. I think she’s done an admirable job as Secretary of State, even if her hair isn’t pretty. (Though I would disagree with the person who made this statement, because I think Hillary’s hair looks great.) I also feel fairly certain that men wouldn’t be held to the same standard. The truth is, people in general critique women on their appearance more than men, probably because they expect women to care more. And when they encounter a woman who doesn’t seem to care about the way she looks, they suspect she doesn’t care about anything at all.

If we had a male Secretary of State who was balding on top with a fringe of hair wrapped around his head, I don’t think anyone would mind. I mean, I think there would be people who found it ugly, but I think there would be very few, if any, people who thought his hair made him lose credibility as a representative of the United States.

This is really a huge topic to explore, when you consider all the ways in which women are held to different standards than men, but I’ll leave it at that for now. I just wish Hillary Clinton, who travels for months out of the year and works sixteen-hour days, could be cut some slack for not living up to someone else’s idea of beauty.


  1. You are definitely right about that - women can be criticized for being high maintenance just as much as they are expected to look perfectly manicured and tweezed at all times.

    I've never thought her hair looks anything other than professional and business like.
    i think it's a very, 'take me seriously' cut.

  2. I like her hair actually
    Xo Megan, www.TfDiaries.com

  3. It's a double standard most women have to deal with; care about work, but also try to look pretty. And it's even worse in high-powered jobs. I love Hilary and when I saw this post in my reader I was confused as to why this is even a thing. Still am, actually, except for the fact that I know women are judged differently than men. Which is stupid.

    1. I wish this was a one-time thing; if I had only heard one person make a statement like this, I wouldn't have written a blog post. But I've heard a lot of people at one time or another say crazy things like, "She so smart, why doesn't she dress better?" or "I would never hire a woman who didn't wear makeup."

  4. i love her too, she have a great hair :) Nice post!
    Im following you now! Mind to follow back? Kisses <3

  5. I think some of the difference is that there are more ways for women to go wrong, but when men go wrong they are just as criticized. Think about Blagojevitch's hair, or John Edward's primping, or the brightly colored parka that Cheney wore to a solemn occasion (a V-E day celebration?). I've even seen men criticized for wearing a striped tie because it didn't read well on camera.

    In Hillary's case, another piece of the story is that there are a *lot* of people who just don't like her, and will jump on any opportunity criticize.

    1. That's an excellent point, Irian. I definitely remember the fuss about Blagojevitch's hair. It's possible that I'm just extra-sensitive to criticisms of women, because, well, I am one :)

  6. And anyway, it’s her hair, not yours, so why does it matter anyway?

    Can we highlight this, blow it up, and paste it everywhere? NOT YOUR HAIR, NOT YOUR PROBLEM. Now, if her hair gains sentience and starts mouthing off, then we'll talk.

    You are absolutely right that women are held to stricter beauty standards. And what's more, if you perform them too well, then people thing you are an airheaded lightweight who only cares about clothes and fashion. SIGH.


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