Why we care a lot about Elizabeth Holmes’s “bad hair”
Elizabeth Holmes, we are told, has bad hair. This we recognize from the particularly public years she has spent as the biotech visionary grew to become disgraced ex-CEO in the back of the medical startup Theranos, as well as the pictures seen in HBO’s lately released documentary The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley. We additionally understand because such a lot of humans hold saying so.
Holmes’s frazzled roots and bleached split ends have been the concern of much dialogue ever since the Theranos founder noticed her employer implode, beginning with the damning reporting of Bad Blood creator John Carreyrou in late 2015. Many on Twitter have puzzled how, mainly at the top of a scientific employer, Holmes allowed her hair to seem so chemically fried and whether or not the look played into her larger grift. (Tavi Gevinson additionally posted a totally on-point impression of Holmes, which included exaggerated flyaways.)
Part of this fixation is that we’re now not used to seeing such a public parent overlook what we’re regularly told is the primary responsibility of womanhood: making herself appealing. It’s no longer that Holmes isn’t — as a skinny blonde, white woman with an obviously pretty face, she doesn’t have to do a good deal to be considered so. Her notoriously fried hair is a far cry from the sleek, tidy patterns that are usually anticipated of effective ladies inside the highlight. We’re now not imagined to observe these hairstyles — it’s why such a lot of information anchors have the equal one — while Holmes’s cowlicks and stick-directly flyaways entice attention.
But is the fact that we’re curious about Holmes’s horrific hair because it defies our expectations of female public figures’ appearances too charitable of an issue? It’s a concept that becomes an increasing number of practical as more proof exhibits the lengths that Holmes has long gone to govern her image. The most obvious instance is her baritone voice. However, her own family continues real; however, former professors and employees have claimed to appear extra commanding in male-dominated Silicon Valley. Different elements of Holmes may sense contrived, too.
Holmes has stated that her uniform of black turtlenecks, of which she stated she owns a hundred and fifty and used to wear each day, turned into a way for her to deplete much less power on identifying what to put on and more at the enterprise. “It makes it clean because each day you put on the identical issue and don’t just think about it — one much less element on your life,” she instructed Glamour in 2015. “All my cognizance is on the work. I take it so critically. I’m certain that translates into how I get dressed.” Yet in an interview for the podcast The Dropout, former
Theranos employee Ana Arriola stated that inside the early days, Holmes wore “frumpy Christmas sweaters” and that the black turtlenecks didn’t start displaying up until Arriola instructed her about Steve Jobs’s famous uniform. She said that Holmes later stocked up on Jobs’s exact preferred emblem of a turtleneck, Issey Miyake, suggesting that her sartorial selections have been modeled after the business icon.
It may not be a soar, then, to indicate that Holmes’s hair was simply any other calculated factor of her aesthetic. It is, of the route, dyed blonde, an unexceptional first-class for an American white lady to have, however, made slightly extra superb when noting that even as simply 2 percent of the populace has obviously blonde hair, 48 percent of lady CEOs at S&P 500 companies do, which could be Holmes’s way, aware or in any other case, of trying to become one in all them.
Even the herbal harm that incorporates artificially lightened hair may also have been intentionally exacerbated. In leaving her sloppily straightened hair unkempt while it changed into both down or twisted right into a low bun, apparently, sans any form of oil or conditioning treatment (costly, certain, but in reality now not for a lady worth billions), it gives the arrival of someone with more crucial matters to worry about than hair, and who has stated as an awful lot. Like a uniform of black turtlenecks and black trousers and a falsified baritone, some noticeable cut-up ends might also have been Holmes’s strive at speaking seriousness.
This, of course, simplest works in case you’re white: As Bridget Todd notes in InStyle, “For a black lady, undone hair isn’t read as a marker of a person preoccupied with Serious Work. Many black ladies aren’t even given the choice of carrying anything much less than best hair at work without scrutiny, let alone having its study as functionality.” It’s a tempting idea, especially as it draws a neat end from someone who changed into capable of defrauding loads of very shrewd human beings out of huge sums of money. Of direction, the hair became a part of the scam all alongside! As Amanda Mull wrote at the Outline closing year,
Holmes’s “self-consciously bland appearance” changed into optimized “so one can placate male traders perhaps extra inclined to accept as true with inside the genius of other men.” But as a good deal, as I’d want to trust that Holmes’s terrible hair was an early inform of her many terrible deeds to come back, I don’t. In truth, to me, Holmes’s awful hair is one of the most effective relatable things approximately her. It is totally reasonable to me that someone could look at herself inside the reflect and spot visible roots and a range of flyaways and nonetheless justifiably believes she appears accurate.
It is even greater reasonable when thinking about that Holmes has a history of questionable personal style. There have been the “frumpy sweaters” she later ditched for turtlenecks. There is her awkwardly dark, regularly slightly askew makeup. Her (non-public) social media account additionally pictured the 35-year-old recently in a thin black choker — a charming desire, of course! — however, a trend that’s maximum normally associated with ladies around 1/2 her age has yet to construct billion-dollar organizations. But again, this isn’t extraordinary: It is almost impossible to fulfill the nebulous, ever-changing requirements of female presentation even as also appealing to each person, man, or woman’s flavor.
Her appearances at fancy occasions, too, display someone who virtually doesn’t recognize the way to dress like a celeb — which is a perfectly normal man or woman who does not rent an expert stylist. At April 2015’s Time 100 Gala, Holmes wore a simple black get dressed, her general amateurish smoky eye, and straightened hair that looked like it might have been given a modicum more interest than a regular day, but no longer using a lot. At November 2015’s Glamour Women of the Year Awards, her hair become in a miles sleeker lob, suggesting she had acquired an expert blowout.
But this turned into a rite thrown using a women’s mag in which there could be different stylish humans around, and Holmes’s vibrant hair was a one-off, like a promenade-day spray tan that might fade within multiple days. Elizabeth Holmes supposedly did several very horrific matters, making it far easier for us to pride ourselves in ridiculing her horrific hair. But what’s tougher to accept is probably that this individual who did plenty of awful things additionally has the very relatable fine of often floundering about girl beauty standards, which can be countless in their contradictions and confusions.
It could be an easier bow at the Theranos tale to suggest that Holmes’s alleged sociopathy went so far as to have deliberately horrible hair. However, I suppose the answer is the less complicated one: Having suitable hair is hard paintings — work that in contrast to, say, white-collar crime, Holmes seemingly wasn’t almost as adept at.