Bad Hair Days and Self-Esteem

Bad hair day
At some point, everyone has experienced what has become popularly known as a "bad hair day." In many cases, the phrase is used to indicate the overall experience of an unpleasant day.
For anyone who has ever suffered from limp locks or cowlicks, it will come as no surprise to hear that researchers have now demonstrated that bad hair days may actually have a negative impact on self-esteem. Bad hair may not only be a style challenge, it may also be harmful to your mental health.
In a study commissioned by Physique, researchers at Yale University found that "bad hair days" impact self-esteem by increasing levels of self-doubt and personal criticism. "Interestingly, both women and men are negatively affected by the phenomenon of bad hair days,'' says Dr. Marianne LaFrance, Professor of Psychology and Professor of Women's and Gender Studies at Yale University. "Even more fascinating is our finding that individuals perceive their capabilities to be significantly lower than others when experiencing bad hair."
Participants in the study included both men and women of diverse ethnicity from varied cultural backgrounds. Researchers were particularly interested in how bad hair days affected individuals on measures of self-esteem, social insecurity, feelings of personal value.
One of the most interesting findings of the study was that bad hair days had a dramatic impact on performance self-esteem. Experience of a bad hair day caused study participants to feel less smart and less capable at performing tasks in which they were normally competent. Most surprisingly, this effect was highest among men.
The study also showed a dramatic increase in social insecurity among those suffering from a bad hair day. The reason for this is fairly simple. When we are anxious about an aspect of our appearance, we tend to believe that others are also noticing our perceived imperfections. In many cases, other people notice such things far less than we imagine.
In the Yale study, women reported experiencing more feelings of shame and embarrassment while men reported lowered confidence and increased nervousness. In addition to this social anxiety about appearance, study participants began making other negative comments about themselves. Researchers concluded that "bad hair days" could lead to other feelings of self-criticism that go beyond mere appearance.
The findings of this study indicate that it is important to maintain a good appearance in order to continue feeling good about yourself. So what can you do to prevent bad hair days? The first step is to make sure your hair is healthy and cared for. Using a quality conditioner can help improve the look of your hair and will prevent tangles that could damage your hair.
If your hair isn't in the best health, visit a stylist to have split ends trimmed and have your hair cut in a style that is flattering and easy to maintain. Sometimes, simple things such as static cling cause bad hair days. Static cling is especially problematic during colder times of the year. If you are having a static problem, you can minimize the effect by using a dryer sheet that you normally use to get rid of static from your laundry. Simply run a dryer sheet over your hair to help tame your locks.
©     Photo: Istockphoto
See also:
Hair problems
Haircut phobias
Why men prefer long hair
Why some women cut their hair short