"If I want to knock a story off the front page, I just change my hairstyle" -- Hilary Clinton.
In an era of political bluster and spin, politicians will even use their hair to change headlines and perspectives. We shouldn't be surprised. Our appearance impacts our personal, social, and professional success. From the Greek and Roman times through American Colonialism and the digital age, decorative, attractive hair has been seen as a sign of power, wisdom, sophistication, and likes. Hair frames the face, the principal feature of a first impression. And hair is easy to control: The length, shape, and tone can be changed through cutting, coloring, and texturizing; the style can be tailored with brushes, blow-dryers, straightening irons, and products.
For further evidence we need only look to Donald Trump. His hairstyle -- combing over, swooping forwards, swooshing around, and somehow sticking forcibly to the sides -- is a figure of fun. Yet it has also come to symbolize what this billionaire is all about. Donald Trump says and does what he wants, and so does his hair. Like the extravagant bombast he loves, Trump's tresses are neither fashionable nor appealing, but benefit from being distinct and recognizable.
As for Hilary herself, she must have knocked a lot of stories off the front page because from flowing locks to textured crops, Clinton has flip flopped her locks on her way to the top. Interestingly, whatever the length and the shape of the cut, Hilary always forces it into submission. Using lashings of hairspray, she keeps her coiffure fixed, in order, unmoving, stiff.
(Rafael) Ted Cruz offers an intriguing study is using the hair to present one identity while hiding another. It's naturally curly owing to his Canadian-Cuban heritage, yet he's forcing it to be straight. Given his grinding rhetoric I wonder if that's all he's hiding?
Bernie Sanders has typical male pattern baldness, but doesn't try to conceal what's up. While the flaky bits and bald top are a little off-putting, they suggest Bernie is beyond worrying about the superficial. With an occasional white hair flinging up like a firebrand, Bernie has the academic mien of a professor.
As for the others, mane advice could have made for a more hair-raising race. Rand Paul's fluffy poof of frontal curls look more porn star than politician. Marco Rubio -- receding hairline concealed behind hovering follicles -- suffers from newscaster levels of lacquer application. Jeb Bush and Chris Christie sport plain and simple side parts that are as reassuringly respectable as they are terrifyingly reactionary.
From the guy growing it long in the spirit of virile rebellion to the girl going blonde to feel more beautiful, we use our hairstyles to make a statement, gain attention and attraction. Mostly, we use this information to help us seek out our mates. Hairstyles frame some of the most potent signs of fertility and humans are primed to seek out these sexy signals.
Given the way in which Presidential hopefuls and their allies are treating the truth, however, to make informed choices in the election, we may need to top up our understanding of what the hairstyle reveals about the person behind the coif. A levity on tonsorial choices, I say. Lest the candidates' levity on us be the one to win out.
By Nick Arrojo, Owner and Founder of ARROJO N.Y.C. and author of two books, Great Hair: Secrets to Looking Great and Feeling Fabulous Every Day, and Milady's Standard Razor Cutting by Nick Arrojo