Power Hair

The masterfully manipulative Eleanor Shaw.

Women in politics and business have to be meticulous with their appearance, lest they look weak, inexperienced, or unprofessional. This means that one of the most common and effective hairstyles a woman politician can have is Power Hair.

It consists of a short cut reaching the jawline, parted in front and coiffed expertly with mousse or hair net and swept towards the edge of the jaw, so you'll never see it cross in front of the face like many a lovestruck Damsel Scrappy does incessantly. Power Hair is patterned somewhat on the hairstyle commonly used by flappers in the twenties (emancipated women, the ones you always see in Al Capone movies with tube dresses to the knees and cloche hats shaped like little tea cosies on their heads). Another common variation is cutting it short all over but leaving it longer near the top and "sweeping" it upwards.

Power Hair is so pervasive it's worked its way even into Disney cartoons.

This trope is an example of Truth in Television. Numerous, numerous female politicians will have Power Hair or a variation thereof. It's a brave woman who wears a different hairstyle, and a political juggernaut if she does so and remains successful. Possibly justified in that shorter hair is becoming a fad with older women in the West since it's easier to care for, and few politicians get to the top in their youth. (All this also applies in business and certain professions.)

See also Iron Lady, who is likely to sport this hairstyle. Oppose Power Makes Your Hair Grow. Related to Real Women Don't Wear Dresses.

Examples

Anime and Manga
  • A rare anime example is Ryoko from The Case Files of Yakushiji Ryoko, who isn't so much a villainess as a self-interested Jerkass 90% of the time, especially in comparison to her rival Yukiko, who has a much more traditional Japanese hairstyle of long black hair pulled back.
  • Ran's mother in Detective Conan, who is a lawyer, mostly has this, although there are some strands that fall in front of her ears.
  • Sylia Stingray from the Bubblegum Crisis OVAs has this hairstyle, as does Prime Minister Kayabuki in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig. Both of them were played by Yoshiko Sakakibara, who has Power Hair in Real Life.
  • Student Council President Nodoka Manabe from K-On! sports this, although she's actually pretty friendly.
  • Hildegard von Mariendorf of Legend of Galactic Heroes tends to sport this sort of hairstyle through most of the series, as befits an Iron Lady out to leave her mark on galactic history.
  • In Fushigi Yuugi, Yui cut her hair short so that boys would stop bothering her.
  • In Card Captor Sakura, Sonomi, the CEO of an electronic/toy company, wears her hair like this.
  • In Death Note, Kiyomi Takada wears her hair short. She is a respected TV personality, and "official" spokeswoman for Kira.

Films
  • Glenn Close as the vice president in Air Force One.
  • Meryl Streep's character in The Devil Wears Prada is a good modern film example.
  • In Sliding Doors the Helen who catches the train gets one.
  • Another of Streep's memorable performances was in the remake of The Manchurian Candidate, where she plays a senator and mother to Raymond Shaw, again with typical Power Hair.
  • Angela Lansbury in the original The Manchurian Candidate. She's the the power behind the throne of her politician husband. Her Power Hair is poofier, but is short enough to qualify.
  • In American Beauty, Carolyn Burnham's methods of "projecting an image of success at all times" was a shock of Power Hair. Notable is that clips of her younger - when Lester describes her as happier - have her hair long.
  • Judi Dench as M in the James Bond series.
  • Holland Taylor as Professor Stromwell in Legally Blonde. Hilariously in a deleted scene from the sequel, she asks her hairdresser for a mohawk.
  • Mon Mothma, leader of the Rebel Alliance, from Return of the Jedi. One of the few sci-fi examples of this trope.
  • Elizabeth Perkins in Big. As she goes from a hard-nosed businesswoman to a more whimsical romantic interest, her hair softens from scene to scene.
  • Jodie Foster as the Secretary of Defense in Elysium.
  • Princess Diaries features Julie Andrews as Queen of Genovia.

Live-Action TV
  • Claire Underwood sports one in House of Cards (US).
  • Regina of Once Upon a Time wears this style as Storybrooke's mayor.
  • Jenny Shepherd, director of NCIS goes through a number of hairstyles, but this seems to be the most common.
  • Angela Petrelli of Heroes has Power Hair to go along with her painfully perfect cutthroat high society aide. It really shouldn't come as a surprise when it turns out she's the Evil Matriarch and in league with Linderman to destroy New York.
    • In later seasons the actress's hair got longer, and she started arranging it in a very tight updo which creates an even more power-y effect. The comparison became obvious in a flashback to pre-season 1 before Arthur's apparent death.
  • Major Kira Nerys in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine started off with Power Hair, cropped it later, and finally grew it back to a more Power Hair-like cut.
  • Cherry Jones as President Allison Taylor on 24.
  • Inara's client "The Counselor" from Firefly has hair like this.
  • Adelle De Witt from Dollhouse has slightly longer than average Power Hair by season two, but it's still much shorter than her hair in season one.
  • Maggie Walsh from Buffy the Vampire Slayer wore her hair like this.
  • Eva Thorne from Eureka has classic Power Hair, befitting her business-like persona and background.
  • Leslie's mother on Parks and Recreation, who is the head of the Department of Education, has this haircut. Leslie gets a cut like it for Season 1's "The Banquet," but it just ends up making her and Ann get mistaken for a couple.
  • On Veep, vice president Selina Myers has a longer version of this in the first two season and most of the third, around a medium length, but averted this in the opening montage symbolizing her earlier career aspirations. Amy, her chief of staff, has hair ending slightly longer than hers while Sue, her secretary, has longer hair than both though she keeps it in some sort of bun most of the time.
    • When Selina runs for President in season 3, she gets a shorter haircut.
  • Miranda in Sex and the City, who is the least feminine of the main characters and works as a no-nonsense Manhattan lawyer.
  • Stana Katic is an interesting example in Castle. In the first season, very serious Power Hair. Later seasons, not so much.
  • Marcela and Margarita from Yo soy Betty, la fea

Theater
  • This is the default haircut given to young girls who are selected as otokoyaku (actresses specializing in Crosscast Roles in the Takarazuka Revue, due to its ability to be styled into a fully masculine appearance when playing men onstage. Older otokoyaku are still expected to keep their hair relatively short, but some have it further cropped into a pixie-ish style, while others grow it out to a more tousled, feminine shag that only looks male onstage.

Webcomics
  • Ruthless business mogul Ann Walker in But I'm a Cat Person. Flashbacks show her in pin curls in her youth, with a hairstyle developing over the years until it settles on this one. (Averted with the comic's other major female around the same age, though she's even in politics: Congresswoman Karen Park.)
  • Sticky Dilly Buns features Ruby, a recent business studies graduate with strong career ambitions among a cast of rudderless bohemians — who seems to be cultivating a definite power bob.

Western Animation
  • Cruella de Vil in 101 Dalmatians was perhaps the earliest Disney villainess with Power Hair. Accentuated by dividing it into half white and black. One exception is hers was not moussed, so it would sweep around across her head and face when her temper went out of control.
  • Courtney from Total Drama has this along with her desire to be a lawyer.
  • Ursula in the Disney version of the The Little Mermaid had the second variety of Power Hair, made all the more striking when compared to Ariel's billowing cloud of red hair.
  • Mina Bonteri of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, complete with graying sideburns.
  • From My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, the Mayor of Ponyville. And in Season 3, the Games Inspector from "Games Ponies Play".
  • The mayor of South Park.
  • Mom of Futurama would certainly qualify to many degrees. Her hair may technically not be short but the heart-shaped upright hairdo has pretty much the same effect.
  • In Book 4 of The Legend of Korra, Kuvira, self-declared Emperor of the Earth Empire by way of military coup, goes for this haircut. In contrast, her brief previous appearance in Book 3 had much looser hair.

Real Life
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton is probably the most famous example.
    • She always had a youthful hairstyle that that went past her shoulders... until she became first lady, at which point she almost immediately opted for a shorter, more "mature" style. This got her almost immediately labeled as power hungry, even though she never made statements stronger than general expressions of ambition (which is what politicians need to have of course).
    • While she had this during her time as First Lady and later Senator, during her time as Secretary of State, she slowly let her hair grow back longer. Initially it was because her daughter Chelsea asked her to for her wedding, though she kept it that way during the two years between stepping down as Secretary of State and announcing her candidacy for President in 2016. Not coincidentally, in her announcement video, she was back to Power Hair.
  • Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany. Even though, ironically, her hair was even shorter and more boyish during her GDR political career and in The '90s.
  • Michelle Bachelet, President of Chile. Also, several of her female advisors and ladies from the opposition, like right-wing senator Evelyn Matthei.
  • Condoleeza Rice, former US Secretary of State
  • Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader of the US House of Representatives (and former Speaker).
  • Kim Campbell, very briefly Canadian Prime Minister.
  • Other prominent female Canadian politicians of Campbell's generation such as Alexa McDonough and Sheila Copps fall under this as well.
  • Margaret Thatcher, former British Prime Minister. Her hair was in a perm when she was younger.
  • Tarja Halonen, former President of Finland. Unfortunately, this makes her a dead ringer for Conan O'Brien.
  • Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand.
  • Carly Fiorina, a California businesswoman, is a prime example of Power Hair. Incidentally, she also headed up H-P (as Chairman, President, and CEO 2000-2005) and also ran for office (a US Senate seat from California) in 2010 (and lost to Democrat Barbara Boxer, who incidentally also sports power hair).
  • Roza Otunbayeva, who overthrew the government of Kyrgyzstan and became head of the interim government, has this kind of hair.
  • Considering what Cyndi Lauper used to look like back in The '80s, it's astonishing to see her with this kind of hairstyle.
  • The female presidents of the Philippines, Corazon Aquino and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, used variations of Power Hair in their term of office.
  • Played straight by Swedish politicians Mona Sahlin, Maud Olofsson, Beatrice Ask and the late Anna Lindh.
  • The Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff
  • Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia from 2010 to 2013.
  • Very common among elementary school teachers.