There was a time when I thought I was doing everything right to be a competent, professional lady. College? A breeze. Law school? Magna Cum Laude, like a boss (well, okay, I missed summa. But I said boss, not CEO.) Real job? Take that, tough economic times. I even have a shelter dog.
But something was missing. I was tripping on my way up the corporate ladder. I aimed my slingshot at the glass ceiling, only to find it loaded with Nerf pellets. What gives?
Well, there was one power move I seriously overlooked: the signature hairstyle. Throughout history, every lady who has done anything important has had a signature ‘do. It kills me that I’ve wasted 2 years of my career with my hair any-which-length. Learn from my mistakes, and take a cue from these distinctively-coiffed ladies:
Anna Wintour, when Princess Diana was alive.
Anna Wintour, hair unchanged 16 years after Princess Diana’s death even though we all swore we’d never be the same again after that.
Anna Wintour’s bob is as precise and razor-sharp as the steel wire that encases the empty place in her chest where her heart used to be (Because hearts are for fat people. Why do you think those heart-shaped boxes are filled with chocolate candy? To make you fatter. What can happen when you get fat, whether externally or with inner fatness? Your heart ATTACKS you. All ties together).
1966 – just before shit started to get real weird out there.
Well, this is depressing.
Cher’s crazy rich. She’s absurdly famous. And she’s had the same hairdo since the mid-60s. I think she owes her success, in part, to the signature ‘do. Do you think she’d have the same panache with a nice shoulder-length cut with some bangs? You know all that hair can’t be real. At this point she should just start a hair extension company, name it Gypsies, Tramps and Weaves, and be done with it.
Little Edie Beale
I know the theme of the list is successful ladies who have signature ‘dos, and I’d say that Edie fits the bill. If slowly decaying inside of a decrepit mansion surrounded by lots of cats doesn’t sound like your idea of “making it,” just remember that Edie was such a staunch character that she carried a documentary and inspired a telefilm and a musical. Plus, she looked oddly beautiful doing it. So you know what? I think this WOULD be the best costume for the day.
Susan B. Anthony
The B stands for “Badass.” Or possibly “Bun,” because she wore one every day – ending with when she died and starting, I picture, with birth. Suze here reminds us that when you’re really committed to a cause, maybe the best thing is to pick a hairstyle and then never waste your energy thinking about it again. Also that if you work really hard for something, and commit 40 or so years to it, then maybe a few decades after you die it’ll happen!
(Screw that; I’m not even patient enough to ever let my microwave timer run all the way down.)
Diana RossTo paraphrase Mean Girls, we all know why Diana Ross’s hair is so big – it’s full of secrets. As in, the secrets to success. If you look at old pictures of Ms. Ross, it almost seems like every year her hair gets bigger and bigger. It’s like it absorbs the love of her supporters and the scorn of her detractors, so that none of it gets to Diana.
Mary, Mother Of God
Look. I’m not trying to get into one of those “mommy wars” where we debate whether raising children is a job. I don’t need to. When, for 33 years, your full-time business was raising God – changing God’s diapers, sitting through God’s Little League banquets, silently judging God’s date to the Freshman Formal – I’m calling it: it’s a job. Mary is also the only person on our list whose ‘do is actually iconic. Like, in the literal sense: she appears on a bunch of religious icons. While not a “hair” do in the traditional sense, always styling your hair underneath the same long veil is a hair statement, and the gal never wavered.
Babs, present day.
Think of a classic wardrobe staple – let’s say, a blue blazer. In any time in recent history, you could have worn a blue blazer and looked legit. Sure, in the 70s the lapel would have been bigger, and in the 90s it would have been a boxier cut, but it’s still a blue blazer.
That’s Barbara Walters’ hair. There have been some variations on the theme through the decades, but if you scalped Barbara Walters and put her hair on a mannequin -whether in 1975 or 1992 or 2013 – you’d see it and say “yep, someone scalped Barbara Walters, I guess. And this is her hair.”
Hair as tall, shining and majestic as the peaks of Denali.
I don’t care what your politics are, you have to admit that this is some power hair. The biggest boon to Palin’s run for national office -and, possibly, the biggest drawback – was hair so distinctive that you could dress as her for Halloween without really trying very hard.
If we have two panel members from The View on this list, it’s only because getting paid to sit in a semi-circle and talk over people is the true meaning of “having it all.” The last time I sat around every morning with my peers talking about the events of the day, I was in kindergarten, and I wasn’t getting paid for it. It was called Circle Time. Anyway, Goldberg is so known by her unwavering, tidy dreadlocks that when you see her with straightened, loose hair in Sister Act, it’s kind of unnerving.
Ya know … maybe if people are about to behead you you shouldn’t make your head look so damn showy.
While I painstakingly catalog every premature gray on my head, Marie Antoinette was powdering her entire enormous wig. She knew what the rest of us haven’t figured out: Gray hair has gravitas. It has dignity. It has flair. It… will not keep the proletariat from chopping your head off. So remember, while you’re cultivating your signature ‘do, don’t neglect the little people – or the little people might kill you.
Louise Brooks (Counter-Example)
Louise Brooks, in her heyday.
Louise Brooks, in her dotage.
Louise Brooks had THE iconic bob in the 20s. She was also the toast of Hollywood. Then in old age, she grew her hair long and ditched the bangs. Result? She died in our hometown of Rochester, NY. See, that’s what happens when grow out your signature hairstyle. You become a reverse Samson, losing your power because you stop cutting your hair.