Asian woman with long hair in office wear

Hair discrimination is prevalent around the world. While it’s more tolerated in some parts than others, some countries have laws against it. In the Philippines, when someone tells a woman that her short haircut makes her look like a boy, it’s usually brushed off as a “cultural thing.” There’s no proper recognition of how wrong it is. It may even contribute to the loss of some career opportunities. Here’s how your hairstyle may be perceived in the workplace and why it doesn’t matter.

What Hair-Based Discrimination Means

In the United States, hair discrimination is rooted in systemic racism against African American People. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Legal Defense Fund is pushing for the CROWN Act in all 50 states to end it.

Under this act, policies prohibiting afros, braids, locks, and other hairstyles that protect Black hair from damage are racist. In multicultural countries, hair discrimination keeps African American people from education and career opportunities. 

In the Philippines, the discrimination stems more from age-old beauty standards from colonial times that are a double-edged sword. Noli Me Tangere’s was the epitome of beauty with her pale skin and light-colored curly hair. But she was also demure, self-effacing, and as Jose Rizal himself described, “Oriental decoration.” Applying these impossible standards in the modern world only further oppresses women by telling them: this is beauty — and this is its price.

How Hair Keeps You from Career Opportunities

Some companies, such as banks and government offices, are strictly “corporate.” Service-oriented businesses also still have grooming policies for their employees. These include dress codes and hairstyle restrictions such as no open-toe shoes, no visible , and piercings, or no brightly colored hair and bald heads on women.

In some cases, it simply makes sense. For example, someone who works in the kitchen should keep their hair in a bun for sanitation reasons. However, if you do not get promoted because your voluminous, curly hair is “too distracting” or your bangs don’t make you look authoritative enough, then something is wrong.

These are all too similar to something written back in 1978. The Woman’s Dress for Success Book spells out all the outdated hair stereotypes that, sadly, persist to this day. It says things like, “Too many curls and waves will hurt you in business,” “All exotic things done to hair are wrong,” and “ adds authority to a man and takes it away from a woman.” It also suggests that if a woman chooses to have short hair, she should ensure the style doesn’t look masculine.

It is, however, perfectly reasonable to expect employees to look presentable in the workplace. Keep your hair looking healthy and well-groomed with Sunsilk Smooth & Manageable Shampoo and TRESemmé Keratin Smooth Shine Serum. These help you flaunt your hair’s natural texture and make it softer, smoother, and shinier. To keep up your hair color amid a busy schedule — by choice, of course — use TRESemmé Root Touch-up Spray for Black Hair to conceal your roots between salon visits. 

The Silver Lining

In more creative industries like advertising, publishing, and production, employees have more freedom to express their personalities through their hairstyles. Men can have long hair while women can get . People don't just tolerate pink, electric blue, Grinch green, and fire engine red hair. They are considered cool.

These spaces prove hair has nothing to do with your intelligence, competence, and work ethic. Your hair should not affect your career opportunities. Incidentally, there were also once male-dominated industries now shared with, if not driven by talented women. We may not all be progressing at the same pace, but here’s hoping it’s a promising indicator of things to come.