Your Curly Hair is Unprofessional


Every so often I am an enemy to the women around me. I don’t want to be, I want to be part of the sisterhood. I want to give more than I take and I want to make everyone’s life a little easier. Well, today I made my daughter’s life more difficult. In fact I’ve been doing it for years.

We were talking about our hair and which products to use. We have very similar hair, it’s thick and it’s wavy, threatens to curl and if you treat it wrong it gets really frizzy.

While I was talking about hair I mentioned to her that people might see her as unprofessional if she doesn’t blow it out straight when she’s looking for work. I told her that it’s not the right thing but it’s the way things are when you’re an adult.

Here’s Jane’s hair:

And here’s my hair today as I’m blogging. No makeup and with my wavy but not quite curly hair. It’s my natural state, this is what I look like when you run into me around town. This is how my hair would look if we were having a meeting or a cocktail (or a meeting over cocktails – even better).

gottlieb jessica

This is what I look like after I’ve shot a TV segment

bio pic gottlieb

If you ignore the war paint (and I swear they put on the makeup with a spatula and a garden hose) I’m not convinced that the TV hair looks that much better than the every day grocery store hair but I know that it’s the hair that says, “Trust me. I’m on TV.”

Granted TV is different but if I’m going into a meeting do I have to blow dry my hair for 45 minutes to be seen as professional? Shouldn’t 15 years of success in business and a couple of degrees get the job done? Why do I have to ruin my hair to be taken seriously? Am I being taken seriously without a blow out? Maybe I have it all wrong.

I apologize for not going on TV with my curly hair. I apologize for not using curly haired headshots. I’m going to fix that.

I’ve been told that my hair is wild and that it reflects on my personality. My answer to that has always been, “Thank you?”

When Jane was a toddler the lady down the street asked me why I didn’t blow dry her hair out so it would be smooth. I regret to inform you that I didn’t have an answer for her. I just sort of stared at her with a droopy jaw and a quizzical look on my face.

What if I’m African American? Do ladies with kinky hair have to use hot combs and chemicals to land a good job? Don’t answer that. It’s too depressing.

Why do we have to be slaves to our hair to be seen as competent when we don’t work in a beauty salon? Why have I allowed myself to be part of the problem?



The Green Hair is Part of the Strategy


The first day of a long break from school (two weeks or longer) Jane will typically add a little color to the tips of her hair. This time it was green. This time it was also a little higher than usual because one side was higher and then we added a little more… and well… everyone knows how that ends.

Jane’s tips (ends of her hair) had been bleached nearly white last summer so she could have pink. The porous nature of her bleached ends made them suck up color like a dry sponge so the green was really adorable and vibrant (assuming you are 14).

green hair hoover dam


Jane was careful to not use too much shampoo until New Year’s Day. We figured it would take a week of washing to get the color to fade away. Okay… by “we” I mean “I”. And when I say “thought” I should have said “erroneously thought”.

After three rounds of clarifying shampoo this was the result. It’s lighter… but it’s not light yet.

faded green hair

After a treatment and a trim we have this.

green hair after a trim


Tomorrow we’ll try a little bleach in the treatment and hope for the best. Why does any of this matter? Because January 12th is Jane’s first high school interview. The first of five. Of the five schools she’s applying to four of them wear uniforms and I’m pretty sure there aren’t any admissions officers sitting around hoping that a blue eyed, green haired girl will plunk herself down in their office and hope for a spot at their school.



The Politics of Hair


A lot can be said about women’s hair. It’s a source of pride for many of us, it’s expensive to maintain, it keeps some of us out of the water and for others it’s just another chore. As of yesterday Kelsie has none and she looks amazing… which just brings us back to our punk rock roots.

Some of the best writing I know of about African American Women and hair can be found on my friend Liz’s blog. First with the Yuko Hair Straightening System and then with the Brazillian Blowout caucasian and latina women were encouraged to dump chemicals on their heads to “fix” the problem of curly or wavy hair.

Recently Vivia Chen wrote a fascinating article about women over 40 and how long their hair should be to look “professional”. She concentrated on law firms and for the 80 bazillionth time in my life I felt great about my decision to forego a sizable scholarship to law school. On Hilary Clinton she says:

So forgive me for pointing out that her hair has been growing like an unruly potted plant in recent months. For a while, she looked nicely put-together. But since she’s been letting her hair grow, Clinton often looks haggard and rumpled.

This made me sad.

As a fashion victim I absolutely must confess that none of these things has made me sadder than the death of my very own blow dryer. For the first time ever I made a video with my wavy hair.

It’s something that Daphne Brogdon and I have talked about. I’ve always admired how she does video on all sorts of hair days, sometimes even without makeup. I’m not there yet.

In addition to having hair past my shoulders and being on the wrong side of 40 (make that 32 in this town) I don’t even have a working hair dryer. Have I made myself old and unattractive? Unpolished? Unemployable?

If my husband ran out of hair gel I’m the only human being on the planet that would notice.

About the Hair



Earlier this week I made a little video about the Time Magazine Cover and I wondered aloud (once again) if Mom Blogging is good for kids. The feedback I got was mostly unrelated to the content of the video. It was more like: The hair! You have a great blowout.

I did it myself. I had a good haircut (for a change) and I learned a few tricks.

Basically the folks at Wella saw my constant updates about my bad haircuts and bigoted hairdressers and took pity on me. Sometime before the awards season they wanted Jane and me to see one of their hairdressers for color and styling. They wanted us to bring in pictures of red carpet hair and they’d provide the styling.

That never happened. With sports and travel and life it was virtually impossible to get myself and my daughter to have a few free hours on the same day. We were trying for a February appointment and the first available date was April 14. It wasn’t them. It was me.

Anyhow, for the first time since I was a preadolescent I had a haircut outside of the Cristophe Salon.

Jane and I walked into The C Salon in Studio City and everything was the same as every other salon but everything was also different. It’s a beautiful and noisy space, chatter, blow dryers and music keep it loud and lively. What was noticeably missing was the attitude. I typically hate the salon experience because of the prettier than thou attitide and not one person at The C Salon had it.

The receptionists were warm and welcoming, all the hairdressers made eye contact and smiled. Everyone seemed to be happy to be there. This shouldn’t be remarkable but sadly it is.

Jane was looking for some highlights and I wasn’t sure what to expect but when Tiffany came out with a big smile, the perfect pink lipstick (deemed perfect by Jane) and a tutu-like skirt I knew we had the perfect hairdresser for my 13 year old. I just didn’t know if she was to be trusted. I hovered a little reminding her that we were looking for subtle and she nodded and assured me it would be natural and pretty and would please us both.

Did it ever. Are these the most natural looking highlights you’ve ever seen?

In addition to being pretty and trendy Tiffany is a foster mother and was telling Jane about her kids. Atypical discussion for a hair salon but totally refreshing and much needed.

I ended up having a cut and style with the owner of the salon Claudio Lazo. As we got to talking we realized that our daughters had played soccer at the same park for the past seven years and that they’d been on a team together for a Thanksgiving tournament last year. As we chatted it became apparent that Claudio set the tone at the salon. You’d think I’d be relaxed at this point but I really wasn’t. As much as I’d become unhappy with my hairdresser before him I wasn’t particularly trusting.

We talked a lot about styling and he told me he teaches classes that are hours long on how to make a ponytail. Apparently to get a runway ponytail you start with a triangle of hair where the pony will sit and you add hair tiny bits at a time to it. I might ask him to make a video with me if y’all want to learn a bit about a runway ponytail.

While Claudio was trimming my hair he mentioned cutting it a little shorter in the front because of my high cheekbones…. uh yeah. If by “high cheekbones” he meant “chubby cheeks” then he was spot on. It was just so refreshing to have someone speak to me kindly. Why am I so slow to change?

I do a good blowdry for myself but as my hair has straightened out in the last few years I’ve not known how to get body into it other than with different sizes of round brushes, this is an exhausting process. Claudio gave me a few tips about getting those beachy waves we all love.

  • Use a heat protecting spray. (Wella has one that I’m newly addicted to)
  • Curl small sections of hair and let them hang naturally to cool down or put a pin in them to create a tighter curl
  • After your entire head has curled and the hair has cooled hit it with a bit of spray
  • use your fingertips to pull down a few strands from each curl not so much brushing as pulling and positioning.

It’s been a month since my cut and styling and it’s still a good haircut.


That’s me with not a stitch of makeup. I told you I don’t have time for anything.


Passing: Maybe not as “White” but Still Passing for Something


Today I had a three hour salon appointment and one of those hours was spent listening to my stylist complain about Those Old Jewish Ladies. Only five or so minutes was spent with her regaling me with the tale of how she pretended to be Jewish to get out of a speeding ticket.

As she was flat ironing my hair and complaining about the Horrible Old Jewish Ladies who do nothing but complain I sat smiling and wondering if I was doing the right thing. Should I have gotten up from the chair with my hair half done and caused a scene? Should I have said to her, “I’m Jewish.” Should I have goaded her along and asked her how she knew that they were Old Jewish Ladies? Was it their big noses, thrifty ways or perhaps they stopped to daven halfway though a service?

derjude the jew incitor of war poster

I’m listening and wondering what it would really feel like, what it would look like if I walked out of a salon, head half finished and simply refused to pay. I sat back and every scenario simply had me thinking that I’d look like a prickly ass. Now, I’m not sure that this is the truth but every scenario I imagined didn’t have me looking like a good guy.

When I left the salon I updated my facebook status


The comments that came in were predictable. There were quite a few exclamations Wow and Shut up being popular. I think people were left speechless (as was I).

My friend Navah wanted to know which salon. Quite a few other people asked me to Yelp review it. I’m not going to do that, though I did sit in that chair and know that I could cripple this woman’s business. I’m not reviewing my anti-Semitic hairdresser online because she doesn’t own the salon. Yes, she’s been there a good long time, yes, she’s a jerk, but salons are gatherings of professionals and I don’t want to try and shoot my hairdresser in the kneecaps, miss and then shoot one of her coworkers in the heart. As a side note Navah is incredibly beautiful. If she says to see Diane at Piero salon we all probably should.

This is all figuratively speaking folks. I’m not shooting anyone any time soon.

I don’t have a good reason for sitting there and listening to her nonsense. Not only did I pay and leave, but I left a generous 18% tip (you know… generous by Jewish standards).


My friend Nina Grimes Stewart had a clear vision of me either leaving after a one liner or (more accurately) realizing there’s no point to it anyway. I’m not one to keep things to myself. Trust me, my life could have been a lot simpler with some tongue biting. What struck me about Nina just knowing that some discussions aren’t worth having is that Nina’s father is Milton Grimes, the iconic civil rights attorney. If Nina, who has lived a lifetime of racial discrimination stories at her dinner table, could see quickly and clearly that this woman wasn’t worth my breath I felt vindicated of my inaction.

Sometimes there are discussions that can’t be had. Sometimes I recognize that I’ll be seen as shrill or sanctimonious. Sometimes it’s just not the right audience.

I love Shannon for hitting the nail on the head with her response.


I hear stories of people passing for whatever the majority is. I guess today I passed for Not a Jewish Lady.