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Ponytail Height and Intelligence? What Our Hair Says About Us.

This sketch originally published on badspot.us, gave me a good laugh, but it also got me thinking. What about the side pony? And does this mean if I wear my hair down then I have the IQ level of a genius?  Gosh, I better get up that fifteen extra minutes early.

Hmmm…I think that my hair style has more to do with how many times I press the snooze button.  A pony tail takes two minutes flat – sometimes finding the hair elastic is more work than the actual style.

Or, slightly more embarrassing, my hairstyle is often determined by the greasiness of my hair. A pony and some dry shampoo is a quick fix when a shower just isn’t an option – usually when I wake up five minutes before my Friday nine am. That being said, I usually resort to the low pony, because then I can throw on a baseball cap or headscarf for some necessary damage control.  I think this just makes me lazy or even dirty, not of “above average” intelligence.  

This cartoon, however, does bring to light all of the stereotypes surrounding women and their hair. Who hasn’t heard a dumb blonde joke? Or a dig at gingers? Straight long locks are seen as professional and polished.  Short choppy styles are daring, outgoing and trendy.  Curls can be romantic, or when unrestrained, wild and exotic.
Dr. Marianne LaFrance, professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Yale University, conducted a study revealing that our hair can tell a lot about us. Short, tousled tresses are seen as the most confident and outgoing, but women with long, straight blond hairstyles are perceived as the sexiest and most affluent. Women with medium-length, casual-looking styles are viewed as more intelligent and good-natured.

”The cultural belief is that we should not pay attention to appearances, that integrity and character are what count,” Dr. LaFrance said. ”But we are suckers for small differences in appearance, and take them as indicative of other things.”

Whether we like it or not, we are judged by our hair. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t do anything about it. Hair can be transformed – the style, texture, color, and cut of our hair can be changed to suit our unique needs.  A fresh set of highlights can be just the right pick-me-up after a breakup.  Washout color is sure way to get into team spirit or the perfect finishing touch for a costume party.

“Hair That Gets You What You Want,” published on cosmopolitian.com, lets us know how our hair can land us our dream job or that hottie at the end of the bar.

Interview: Stick to a smooth  simple style so your prospective employer is focused on you, not your hair. “Keep your style smooth, and don’t go for anything crazy,” says Susan Solovic, author of The Girls’ Guide to Power and Success. Try using frizz taming products and hair iron to get a sleek mane.

Night Out:Full, bouncy, long hair attracts guys.  And, it is not just because they can run their hands through it. “Thick, bouncy hair is a sign of youth and good health, says anthropologist Helen Fisher, PhD. “And men are subconsciously drawn to those qualities because they signal fertility.”  Wear your hair down and use voluminizing product to achieve lush locks.

Casting Call:  Shiny hair is a sign of youth and energy. Whether you are auditioning for the lead in the spring musical or giving a presentation in your public speaking class – glossy locks are a sure success. Make your hair shine by rubbing in a serum before you style.

Sorority Meeting:  Women who are daring with their hair convey confidence. Other women (and men) follow their lead. Short, choppy styles are the most daring. If you can’t handle a chop, then blunt bangs or a shaggy bob can achieve an equally daring look.  Texturing creams are the go to products for the gal who wants to influence those around her.

”Hair matters,” Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton told the 2001 Yale College graduating class.” Your hair,” she said, ”will send significant messages to those around you: what hopes and dreams you have for the world, but more, what hopes and dreams you have for your hair. Pay attention to your hair, because everyone else will.”

This is coming from the woman who has been publically vilified for her appearance. Also a woman sporting short choppy locks – the style of confidence and influence – who just happens to be one of the most powerful women in the world.  Cosmo just might be on to something…

Good or bad, hair does mean something. A ponytail may not be a sure way to gauge intelligence, but it may give off a certain impression.  So, maybe I’ll think twice before throwing my hair into a sloppy pony?

Alexa is a senior at Boston College majoring in Communications with an emphasis in journalism. She is spending her fourth and final year at BC enjoying tailgates, theme parties, and life long friendships. That is, of course, when she isn’t busy writing for or reading one of her favorite magazines. As a self-proclaimed magazine addict, Alexa has a subscription to over a dozen glossies and sometimes buys more on the news stands. Yikes! In the past, she has even interned for a few: Seventeen magazine, Boston magazine and now she joins Her Campus. In her free time Alexa enjoys reading chic lit., working out to bad reality TV reruns, and indulging her addiction to fro-yo. She is interested in pursuing a career at a women’s lifestyle magazine.
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