When Bollywood beauty Katrina Kaif told the world she would gladly shave her head for the right role in a film, a stir of mixed reactions ensued. Forums opened up discussing the actress’s statement and while some said “Go for it, it’s only hair – it’ll grow back”, others weren’t so kind and said “She’s where she is because of her good looks and personality – she can’t lose that.” So just how important is a woman’s looks in the workplace and can hair loss affect her chances of success?
When it comes to hair in the workplace, men have the best of both worlds. A man with a thick crop of hair boasts virility and confidence, while baldness can still allow a man to play up an aura of distinguish and power. Women on the other hand don’t have that luxury, as a guest speaker on Zoom blatantly reminded us: “You’re supposed to look conventionally beautiful…so with a bald look, you really can’t.”
Female hair loss affects up to 40% of the population but, thanks to society, a lack of hair undeniably steals more than just a woman’s crowning glory. Unexplained hair loss has the ability to strip a woman of her self-confidence one strand at a time which means when it comes to the workplace, women with hair loss are left feeling insecure and tend to come across unconvincing in job interviews. According to a survey by the International Society of Hair Restoration, three-quarters of adults say they would be concerned if they were just starting out in their career and experiencing hair loss, but that they believe it would affect women (88%) more than men (65%).
How important though is a woman’s hair in her ability to perform her job? In 2007, a hairdresser was sued for refusing to hire a Muslim woman who wore a headscarf that covered up the hair she had. The defendant said: “I sell image – it’s very important – and I would expect a hair stylist to display her hair because I need people to be drawn in off the street… To me, it’s absolutely basic that people should be able to see the stylist’s hair.”
In other cases however, getting rid of your hair for your job can gain you more credibility. A number of celebrities have shaved their heads for film roles, such as Demi Moore, Sigourney Weaver and Natalie Portman, but Cameron Diaz wore a skull-cap instead of shaving her hair for her role in My Sister’s Keeper and some critics said she was vain.
There is an intrinsic link between women’s hair and femininity, but recently it would seem that more and more celebrity women are breaking the boundaries as far as “conventional beauty” is concerned. Posh, Rihanna and Cassie all made headlines when they partly shaved their heads but some forum posters say Bollywood actors aren’t as daring as Hollywood actors.
“I don’t think she’s that daring” writes srk_lover. “After all, she’s where she is because of her good looks and personality. She can’t lose that, especially when she’s at the top right now. Maybe after few years when she’s able to prove herself she might take the risk.”*
Daring or otherwise, women in Bollywood have gone bald for roles before. The late Persis Khambatta and former Miss India shaved her head for her art because she wanted to look realistic as the bald Deltan alien in the 1979 Star Trek film. However, Katrina did admit that going bald would limit her chances of landing other roles.
When asked if she was in love with her tresses, Katrina said: “No… I wouldn’t mind [cutting it] but [long hair] gives you more freedom.” Her cute and playful fringe, for instance, took years off her face when she played Jenny in the rom-com film Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani. Though despite being a self-confessed hair spa goer, Katrina said she’d part with her famous locks if it landed her the right job.
“If I love it I’ll chop it off, or shave it all off also if you give me a good film, 100 percent.”
If you’re experiencing unexplained hair loss, contact the Belgravia Centre on 020 7730 6666 to find out what can be done. Alternatively, send an email for more information about female hair loss or fill in the online diagnostic form to see if you have anything to worry about.
(*Edited for spelling and grammar.)