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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Rapunzel, Rapunzel

For years, I obsessed about my hair.  Not about how long it should be.  Or what color.   Or whether to have bangs or not.  But whether to wear it up or down when I taught. 

Let me explain.  New prawfs face lots of high-stakes decisions when it comes to structuring the classroom environment.  What book should I use?   Should I cold-call students?  Use first or last names?  Power-point?  Jeans or suits?   Women (and perhaps men) face an additional decision:  how to wear our hair when teaching. 

In my first three years, I never ever ever wore my hair down when I taught.  Instead, I generally wore it pulled back in a low, neat ponytail.  I associated wearing my hair pulled back with being older, more authoritative, and less sexy, and wearing my hair down with being younger, more carefree, and more "girly."  As a young female prawf, I wanted my students, male and female alike, to view me as a professor and not a "girl their age."  I never thought twice about my conclusion until Christine Hurt asked me incredulously if I "thought I looked more grown-up in a ponytail?"

Many cultures have norms concerning how women should wear their hair depending on age and marital status, so I don't think I'm completely crazy to ponder the hair up/hair down decision.  On the other hand, I decided to test Christine's theory and start wearing my hair down occasionally to class.  So far, my students still seem to respect me (even after showing clips of William Shatner singing).

Sigh.  If only I had the Starfleet's hairstylist to help ...

Posted by Miranda Fleischer on March 28, 2007 at 07:28 PM in Culture, Life of Law Schools, Teaching Law | Permalink


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I think of those butterfly clips as the grown-up equivalent of a ponytail.

Posted by: Km | Mar 30, 2007 5:36:13 PM

It would help if we knew what you looked like.

Posted by: Ann Bartow Will Hate Me | Mar 31, 2007 5:17:01 PM

I agree that hair pulled back in a low ponytail, particulary with some type of barette rather than an elastic band, can be a more grown up look. I'm a student, and when I have a court appearance for my clinic, I wear my hair back to look more like a grown up attorney. That said, I don't necessarily think it means your students will respect you less if you wear your hair down.

Posted by: TJR | Apr 2, 2007 12:23:21 AM

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