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The White Man Whisperer Says Get a Haircut and Stay Clean Cut

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 2 5

Any Indian who wants to succeed in The White Man's world needs to get a haircut and stay clean cut. Long hair for men is out. I've worked in The White Man's world since I was 10. Mens' hair styles have changed, but clean cut has always been better than long hair.

John Molloy, author of the best seller Dress for Success, says that executives prefer short hair. He did an informal study with 100 top executives. He showed them pictures of 4 young men. The 1st had a very short haircut; the 2nd had a moderate haircut with moderate sideburns; the 3rd had a moderate haircut, but with very long sideburns; the 4th had very long hair. Next he asked them, if they would hire the man with long hair...100 said no (Molloy 38). He goes on to explain that executives themselves have short hair. Therefore, they expect new hires to have the same (Molloy 196). I've worked with numerous executives in Silicon Valley and none had very long hair.

What about my traditions and culture? Long hair isn't a tradition in my family nor is it a part of my culture. None of the pictures of my elders reveal long hair. Therefore, my clean cut haircut is honoring my traditions and culture. Plus it's keeping me in the game in the eyes of top executives.

What about the guys who say I'm selling out? I've never had an Indian call me a sellout for being clean cut to my face. I'm sure they've done it behind my back, so I've done research to prepare for the 1st guy who confronts me. First, if he's so concerned about being authentic, then he should look in the mirror and attach shell ornaments to his double braids. Second, he should pluck his eyebrows straight. Both of which were once popular styles of Northern Paiute men. Finally, to keep things real, he'll need to replace his plastic combs and hair brushes with porcupine tail and wild root hair brushes. He'll quickly see the absurdity of bullying me to preserve ancient styles and accessories.

None of the Indian men around me wore long hair when I was growing up. My dad's hair was short and parted to the side. Other Indians preferred short hair under beaded trucker caps. Nevertheless, I experimented with long hair a few times. I had a mullet in the 1980s partly because they were in style and partly because I couldn't afford semi-monthly haircuts. I had short crew cuts in middle school and high school because my football and basketball coaches required them. I grew my hair long enough for a short pony tail after I graduated from high school. The pony tail lived a short life because I had to make money. I was a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman. My sales manager pulled me aside one morning and said that my pony tail made a difficult job harder. I agreed with him. He drove me to the nearest salon and paid for my haircut. I sold my 1st vacuum cleaner soon after that.

Working in The White Man's world is hard. I'm doing it now and I've been doing it successfully for a long time. I admit that long hair makes sense in some isolated situations. For instance, it would make sense if I were one of the following: musician, pow-wow vendor, or prison inmate. I'm none of those, therefore I'm sticking with the clean cut haircut.

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Sep 13, 2011 3:14am
Well-written and interesting article. You're on your way!
Sep 13, 2011 11:50pm
Thank you JudyE. I appreciate encouragement.
Sep 14, 2011 12:18am
Thank you Giant. I made the grammar and punctuation edits. I submitted them to the editor for approval. Those were good catches on your part.

Your comments also raised good points that I'll need to address in a later rewrite. 1) identify why an Indian wears long hair in 2011 and 2) give better stories of how short hair helped me succeed.
Sep 14, 2011 4:44pm
I enjoyed your article and I do understand the point you make. What bothers me about it is that I treat people as equals. Anyone who knows me gets that about me. I'm so tired of people claiming this happened to me because of my race, or this happened of the area I was raised in. I feel the USA goes out of their to treat everyone as equals. USA is all about Freedom and opportunities and it's what the person decided to do with his freedom and opportunities available to them. I don't feel it's a white man's world anymore. Corporations, Wall Street and the white collar jobs is what I feel you're speaking about. Have you ever heard of white collar jobs or blue collar jobs? Anyway, I did enjoy your article.
Oct 20, 2011 4:25pm
I love men with long hair, but that is another story. It is a shame if people feel someone is a "sell out" for trying to make it in life. Your loyalty to your ancestors and culture are on the inside and not the outside.
I am a pagan, but also a mother of 4 children in a very ignorant area of the UK. I can not suddenly go wearing clothes of medieval Britain, for similar reasons to those you have stated.
We can preach equality until you go blue, but it is all just skin deep in reality.
Great article.
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  1. John T. Molloy Dress For Success. New York: Warner Books, 1988.
  2. Warren L. D'Azevedo, Volume Editor Handbook of North American Indians Volume 11 Great Basin. Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1986.

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