Natalie Southwick
October 29, 2015 4:08 pm

Even if you think of yourself as the world’s most confident, strong, independent woman, you might accidentally be signaling to your adoring public that, deep down, you’re terribly insecure, with just one unconscious habit.

As if making it greasy and looking like a cheerleader from an ’80s movie weren’t bad enough outcomes, touching your hair too much can also make other people think you’re anxious or insecure. The worst part is, you probably don’t even realize you’re doing it, or that it means anything more than that the back of your neck is kinda sweaty.

“The problem, is hair touches — hair flips, hair tricks — send off different cues that I don’t think most women are aware of,” author, behavioral investigator and published speaker Vanessa Van Edwards told Seventeen. “​Any time someone touches their head, their hair, or their neck, it’s actually a very high discomfort cue so it shows as anxiety.”

Look, I get the discomfort part. It’s pretty hard not to touch your hair if it’s fallen in front of your eyes or gotten tangled in one of your earrings. But most of the time we just touch our hair to give it a little volume, or even out a part, shift bangs that are growing out or fix a ponytail that’s fallen — or maybe it’s such an unconscious habit we don’t even realize we’re doing it, like breathing or grinning when someone says “Channing Tatum.”

There are plenty of cues we give off by how we interact with our hair — constantly tucking it behind your ears can suggest you’re really focused on something, while twirling your hair can project innocence, flakiness, or that you’ve read a few too many magazine listicles and think that’s a successful flirting strategy. But who knew that something so seemingly innocuous as just fixing your hair could make you come across as insecure?

Even if you’re not anxious at all, excessively touching your hair still “comes across as low self-esteem, which is detrimental,” said Van Edwards. “Internships, college interviews — you want to show that you want to be there, not that they’re anxious or you don’t feel good about being there.”

Unfortunately for the ladies out there with fine hair, you’re most guilty of this habit. Women with fine hair touch their follicles more times per day than women with thicker hair, often because they’re trying to add volume or just shake things up a little.

This might suggest that girls with curls, who often try to touch their hair as little as possible so it doesn’t frizz, have an advantage when it comes to projecting confidence — and many do! On the other hand, a recent study by Dove found that just 4 out of every 10 curly-haired girls think their hair is beautiful, so maybe not touching hair is just a way for some people to avoid thinking about it.

Either way, we know that hair is often happiest when it’s left alone, so it might be time to lay off hunting down each and every split end — or at least wait to do so until you’re in the safety of your own home, where nobody will think you’re suffering from low self-esteem when you’re really just suffering from an unfortunate run-in with a wind tunnel.

[Image via NBCGIF: PandaWhale]

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