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The lesson of Tony Blair’s long hair

Written by Vanessa Friedman

What’s it with male politicians and their hair lately? After many years — centuries — of nondescript brief cuts, their crowning glory has out of the blue was a type of artistic expression. And supply of controversy.

It typically appeared as if nobody might prime Donald Trump’s extremely difficult cream puff of a development — till Boris Johnson, along with his signature flyaway platinum locks (those that he makes use of to distract, amuse, disarm and in any other case manipulate these round him), arrived at 10 Downing St. as Britain’s prime minister.

However then, earlier this week in an ITV tv interview, a former prime minister one-upped them each.

Or, fairly, Tony Blair’s lengthy, flowing grey hair did. There hasn’t been a former member of the league of NATO nations who let all of it down like that since President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Though Blair was on digital camera to debate devolution and the opportunity of one other Scottish independence referendum, it was clear virtually instantly that his evolution from chipper, reform-minded PM with barely spiky New Labour/Cool Britannia-era hair to Samson-like determine was making a lot of the news. Comparisons on social media ranged from Physician Who to “the possessed Vigo portray in Ghostbusters.”

On the one hand, the hair shouldn’t have been stunning. Everybody, in any case, has spent the final 12 months having to do house hair care as COVID protocols meant salons have been closed and grooming routines interrupted. Many individuals found their pure hair colours for the primary time in years, in addition to the enjoyment of the ponytail. So, Blair’s hair received lengthy; so did all of ours. Former PMs — they’re similar to us!

Alternatively, nevertheless, it’s not as if Blair would have lacked entry to house hair care instruments. In contrast to many, he didn’t select to develop a pandemic beard, so some trimming was happening. And his spouse Cherie, or their grown youngsters, might most likely have helped with a lower or two.

Additionally, salons reopened in Britain on April 12, which means that Blair was having fun with his experimentation with hirsuteness — at the very least till the judgment of the watching world rained down.

And therein lies the lesson.

Blair’s hair was a shock, partially, as a result of we’re merely not used to seeing lengthy hair on male world leaders, former or not. (On the subject of feminine leaders and hair, as with feminine leaders and costume, the foundations are totally different.) They’re presupposed to have hair, in fact. Famously, no bald man since Dwight D. Eisenhower has gained the presidency. Hair equals testosterone within the lizard mind — and since he had been a wartime normal, Eisenhower was the exception that proved the rule. The balding former Tory celebration chief, William Hague (keep in mind him?), was roundly mocked for the baseball caps he wore to cowl up his shiny pate.

However Blair’s hair was additionally a shock due to what it revealed about our personal prejudices and expectations — not nearly feminine hair, with all its many associations (Medusa, Woman Godiva, the Salem witches), however male hair, too.

For each sexes, hair is, as anthropologist Grant McCracken wrote in his e book “Huge Hair,” “our court docket of deliberation, the place the place we ponder who and what we’re.”

And what males will we affiliate with lengthy hair, particularly lengthy grey hair? It performs a job in so many cultural traditions that it may be exhausting to decide on.

Lengthy hair is related to the photographs of heavy metallic rock stars and hippies, for instance. And certainly, Blair informed The Night Customary he had not had such lengthy hair since his days in a rock band generally known as the Ugly Rumours at Oxford College. Which raises all types of questions on his later-in-life need to relive them.

Past that, lengthy hair additionally evokes the Bible, to not point out Moses (and every other variety of Outdated Testomony prophets). Additionally, it connects to Gandalf the Gray and magicians of his ilk in addition to Albert Einstein and the parable of the mad genius scientist too busy experimenting with electrical energy to take care of a comb-over.

Additionally poets, although their lengthy, flowing hair tends to not be grey, at the very least within the collective creativeness.

What we don’t affiliate with lengthy hair: former world leaders.

Certainly, what Blair’s hair exhibits as a lot as something is the unstated public assumption that after our leaders go away the very best workplace in no matter land, they are going to stay frozen as they have been at that second, preserved in amber and recollections simply as they have been once they steered the ship of state — even when they have been comparatively younger whereas on the helm.

That manner, once they reemerge as elder statesmen each infrequently to bestow their hard-earned knowledge on the world, their authority is recognizable. Certain, we all know they might be getting on with their lives as personal residents, however they aren’t presupposed to flaunt it. It makes them appear inconsistent. (Keep in mind the hoo-ha round Hillary Clinton’s first girl hair cuts?) Unreliable.

As Blair apparently is aware of. He later informed the Customary he was heading to a barber “imminently.”

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