July 29th, 2006

Saturday. My first client takes one look at me and says (and I paraphrase): Dr. Khuly, you’re the only vet I know who goes to work in heels, wears a punk rock hairdo and paints her toenails blue.

This (I say, pointing headwards) is not punk rock. Punk intends to repel and offend, I contend. My hairstyle was designed to please (myself, mostly, I’ll admit).

But this begs the question: Does my hair put off my clients or does its individuality endear them to me (as I’d like to think)?

My mother, of course, thinks it’s unprofessional and not befitting a woman of a certain age (that’s me, presumably). While I know she’s right (on the unprofessional thing not the age thing), I can’t seem to help myself.

I love my hair in all its two-toned glory. I spent the first thirty years of my life hating my hair. No one else complained. Now that I’ve found the right cut, style, and color and now that I’m pleased with how I look, I’ve begun to elicit bewildering comments like the one I mentioned above. To be fair, I get far more compliments than outraged looks or negative comments but they’re primarily from the young urban crowd—not my clients.

I love being a vet. I want my clients to have faith in me and my expertise. I don’t want them to think having colored hair means I care less about taking good care of animals than the gray-haired vet down the street. Because it doesn’t.

The reality is that freaky hairstyles, odd piercings, tattoos and funky clothes will always give people a certain impression. As a professional I know I have to keep these things to a minimum to maintain the respect I deserve. I just hope my clients are evolved enough to see beyond the superficial me.

As to my heels and toenails: What’s unprofessional about that?