I like pigtails, but I'm too scared to wear them to work.
Wearing pigtails is often considered unprofessional, and I worry that people will respect me less.
In Tina Fey's book Bossypants she writes, "If you are a woman and you bought this book for practical tips on how to make it in a male-dominated workplace, here they are. No pigtails, no tube tops."
I understand that this is a joke, but when I read "no pigtails," my first thought was, Oh no. I've let down Tina Fey. Sometimes I wear pigtails. Am I setting myself up to fail?
A lot of advice intended to help women ends up sounding more like criticism of women. Each tip turns into one more thing to add to an endless list of rules required to simply exist.
Women are encouraged to constantly worry about how they should and shouldn't look. School dress codes typically focus on what girls can't wear. Tips for how women should present themselves at work are complicated — you shouldn't be too sexy, too trendy, too matronly, too harsh, too boring, too dressy, or too casual. And on top of figuring out your professional aesthetic, being a woman comes with the constant reminder to LOOK ATTRACTIVE AND YOUTHFUL AT ALL TIMES.
OK, but how youthful? Because according to some products I've seen at the drugstore, I'm maybe supposed to look like an actual baby.
Wait, so looking like a baby is good?
Kind of like this...
But mostly like this.
Two identical images.
Children's hairstyles: Yay or nay?
I know I'm extremely lucky to work in a casual office. If I worked someplace else these hairstyles might result in an awkward email from my boss or HR.
Wearing pigtails to work made me realize I was avoiding looking a certain way in exchange for phantom respect and mobility in my career. But a person's perception of my appearance is mostly out of my control. I can try to put the onus on myself by following the rules of "how to look professional," but there's no guarantee that will change anyone's opinion. Women have so many different (often conflicting) rules for how they're supposed to look on any given occasion, it's impossible to follow them all. So I should maybe just wear the pigtails if I can get away with it.
But my biggest life lesson was that if I wear a side ponytail, I look like Blake Lively's twin. Blake, if you're reading this (and obviously you are), take a look at my hair and decide if you think we should be best friends. I assume you're saying yes. Great. It's all coming together. See you soon!