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Power Hair

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The masterfully manipulative Eleanor Shaw.

Hair that doesn't scream "I want to speak to the manager", but a softspoken (yet confident) "I am the manager".

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. 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.

Similar to its Sister Trope Boyish Short Hair, the reason why this cut is deemed professional is because it actively averts Long Hair Is Feminine, since femininity is often associated with incompetence and unreliability, both in general and in relation to masculinity. However, whereas Boyish Short Hair intentionally mimics short hairstyles that men sport, Power Hair still seeks to maintain its femininity in its styling, as being a woman that's perceived as too masculine has its own slew of issues.

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 and High-Powered Career Woman, who are likely to sport this hairstyle, and Lady in a Power Suit, the perfect accessory for the hair. Oppose Power Makes Your Hair Grow. Related to Real Women Don't Wear Dresses.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Ran's mother in Case Closed, who is a lawyer, mostly has this, although there are some strands that fall in front of her ears.
  • 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.
  • 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 the 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 Cardcaptor 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.

    Comic Books 
  • Black Canary is one of the biggest Action Girls in the DC universe. Occasionally her hair is cut short when not in a wig, though starting sometime in the '90s, she grew out her hair and dyed it blonde. This style was one of her shorter cuts.
  • Power Girl, another major DC Action Girl and usually sports a bob cut, but sometimes goes for the power hair approach.
  • While Kate Kane's Batwoman uniform includes long red hair, that's a wig attached to her cowl. Her actual hairstyle is much shorter.
  • Other notable female characters usually known for long hair who have appeared with short hairstyles include Black Widow, Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers), and Catwoman.

    Films — Animated 
  • 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.
  • Ursula in The Little Mermaid (1989) had the second variety of Power Hair, made all the more striking when compared to Ariel's billowing cloud of red hair.
  • The Fairy Godmother in Shrek 2 is actually a Corrupt Corporate Executive (and attempted usurper of the throne through her son) and has silver Power Hair.
  • In Turning Red, Ming and her mother Wu have this as part of their look as a business owner and matriarch respectively.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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.
  • Glass Onion: Andi is a high-powered businesswoman and co-founder of a billion-dollar company who wears her hair in a neat, closely-cropped blonde bob. It's such a meticulous 'do that her twin Helen (who wears her natural hair long) worries about the work needed to emulate it for the Twin Switch.
  • In Sliding Doors the Helen who catches the train gets one.
  • Another of Streep's memorable performances was in the 2004 adaptation of The Manchurian Candidate, where she plays a senator and mother to Raymond Shaw, again with typical Power Hair.
  • Angela Lansbury in the 1962 adaptation of The Manchurian Candidate. She's 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.
  • The Princess Diaries features Julie Andrews as Queen of Genovia.
  • Imelda Staunton sports this type of hair as Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. In the book, she wears either a black bow or fluffy pink Alice band in her hair too, but not in the film.
  • In Working Girl, Tess is pretending to be the boss, rather than a secretary. In order to pull it off successfully, she says she needs "serious hair".

    Live-Action TV 
  • Charmed (1998):
    • Penny Halliwell, the fearsome grandmother slash demon hunter, who also Does Not Like Men, is usually portrayed with this hairstyle. Flashbacks to her thirties, when she was a Granola Girl and before the death of her first husband, shows her with long hair in Quirky Curls.
    • Inverted for Prue in terms of power but not in terms of personality. At the start of the series, when she's at her most powerless, her hair is short enough that it gives this impression as she continues the buttoned-up oldest sister persona. As her power grows and she loosens up, her hair grows out until it's nearly waist-length when she's at her most powerful.
    • Subverted in a Bad Future where Prue has become a Corrupt Corporate Executive. She's shown with waist-length hair bleached blonde. Given that she's using her powers for personal gain in said future, a hairstyle that magic would make easier to maintain would be a given.
    • Season 8's "Mr and Mrs Witch" has a Whole-Plot Reference to The Manchurian Candidate, and the demon playing the Eleanor Shaw role has this type of hair.
  • Game of Thrones: A full season after her Traumatic Haircut, Cersei Lannister ascends as the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms.
  • Claire Underwood sports one in House of Cards (US).
  • Regina of Once Upon a Time wears this style as Storybrooke's mayor. As she undergoes a Faceā€“Heel Turn, her hair grows out long. It becomes inverted in Season 6, where she chops her hair to that length but is contrasted with an Evil Queen persona wearing it long.
  • 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.
  • Veep:
    • Vice president Selina Myers has a longer version of this in the first two seasons 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
  • In Orphan Black Rachel Duncan sports some pretty epic power hair. Incidentally, her power haircut is mirrored almost exactly by her rival, Evie Cho.
  • Devon King from Midnight Caller does her hair like this in the first season, although she grows it out in the second.
  • Mine: Seo-hyun, the hard-as-nails head of the Han family, has the standard power hairdo, namely a short cut that is swept to the side in front and so carefully moussed it looks like a blade. Contrast the other daughter-in-law, Hi-soo, who is hardly a wilting wallflower but still has a more conventional feminine hairstyle.
  • ER's Kerry Weaver cut her hair like this by the fourth season and maintained it like this for a long time afterwards. Even when it was longer, it was a version of this, always being pulled up or back.
  • Sun-ah in The Devil Judge is the director of a corporation and wields considerable behind-the-scenes power. She wears short power hair fitting her powerful image and aura.

    Music Videos 
  • In the music video for "Stupid Girls", P!nk wears her hair like this while she plays a presidential candidate while lamenting that young girls are being encouraged to be shallow and passive, and buying into that expectation.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Vickie Guerrero initially had long hair but had switched to this around the time she became Official Consultant of Smackdown. Coincidentally the shorter hair coincided with her becoming a more straightforward evil authority figure when beforehand she had been in a lengthy romantic comedy storyline with Edge.

  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • Trails of Cold Steel: Irina Reinford is the boss of the massive Reinford corporation, and has blonde hair in this style.

  • 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.
  • Megan from xkcd wears her hair short, and plays a much more active role than most other female characters.

    Western Animation 
  • 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. Actually it's a subversion, since she tied her hair up in a bun than cutting her hair, as in one episode, her bun becomes undone during her confrontation with Korra and again, in the Grand Finale during the climax between her and Korra.

    Real Life 
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton is probably the most famous example.
    • She always had a youthful hairstyle that went past her shoulders... until she became first lady, at which point she quickly opted for a shorter, more "mature" style. This got her promptly 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, albeit to a longer style than she had sported as Senator. (The longer hair she had in her last few years as Secretary of State aged her a bit—she actually looks younger than her actual age with the Power Hair than without.)
  • This hairstyle has been nearly ubiquitous in United States politics in the 20th century. Politicians to feature a variation of Power Hair that is trendy at the time include multi-time Presidential candidate Jill Stein, multi-time Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, Senators and Democratic Presidential primary candidates Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, three of the five female justices to have served on the Supreme Court, nearly every woman to hold a Cabinet-level position up through the Obama administration and every First Lady from Eleanor Roosevelt up through Michelle Obama (who grew her hair somewhat longer in office).
    • Power hair appears to have abruptly fallen out of favor in the mid-2010s. The 2020 Democratic Presidential primary candidates who sported longer hairstyles include Kamala Harris, Tulsi Gabbard, and Marianne Williamson. Melania Trump also has long hair, as do a number of the female members of Donald Trump's cabinet. Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Danica Roem (who also has the distinction of being the first openly transgender person to serve in Congress) and Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Tammy Duckworth also have hair that is shoulder length or longer.
    • Power Hair, like many women's hairstyles, also has some degree of racial and cultural aspect. The two-time Green Party Vice Presidential candidate Winona LaDuke, who is Obijwe, had long hair. Due to stereotypes associated with Black women's hairstyles, many politicians with textured hair, such as Kamala Harris, have worn their hair relaxed and long. Michelle Obama grew her hair out from Power Hair into this style during her time in the White House, and because of the aforementioned stereotypes, she stopped doing Sasha and Malia's hair in styles such as twists and box braids (popular among parents of children with textured hair due to their comparatively lower maintenance) during the Presidential campaign in favor of a long, relaxed style as well. However, after leaving the White House, Michelle was seen sporting a natural, curly hairstyle.
  • 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, former 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, two-time Speaker of the US House of Representatives (and Minority Leader in between).
  • Kim Campbell, very briefly Canadian Prime Minister.
    • Pauline Marois, the first and so far only female Premier of Quebec, had it.
  • 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. The former British PM Theresa May also sported Power Hair.
  • 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. Subverted with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
  • Carly Fiorina, a California businesswoman, is a prime example of Power Hair. Incidentally, she also headed up Hewlett-Packard (as Chairman, President, and CEO 2000-2005) and ran unsuccessfully for political office twice (in 2010 against then-Senator Barbara Boxer, who incidentally also sports Power Hair; then in 2016 for President, though she dropped out early on due to lack of support).
  • 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 two female presidents of the Philippines, Corazon Aquino and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, used variations of Power Hair during their respective terms. Both women had since worn their hair longer after leaving office.
    • Imelda Marcos (First Lady of former president Ferdinand Marcos), who was de facto powerful enough to practically co-rule with her husbandnote , also codified a rather era-specific Power Hair style consisting of a tall pompadour, although this was a common hairstyle among Filipino women from around The '60s to The '70s. The style is now nearly-synonymous with her today, and in fact she continues to wear similar styles.
  • Swedish politicians Mona Sahlin, Maud Olofsson, Beatrice Ask, and the late Anna Lindh.
  • Former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff
  • Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia from 2010 to 2013.
  • Instead of opting for the traditional Power Hair, former Ukraine Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko wore her long, blonde locks in a neatly coiffed crown braid at the height of her power from 2007 to 2010. She has since worn her hair in a simple ponytail following her release from arbitrary imprisonment and subsequent political comeback as opposition leader in the Ukrainian parliament.
  • Enya used to have longer hair when she was part of her family band CLANNAD; after leaving to begin composing and singing her own music, she has kept her dark hair cut short and powerful since.