How should we allocution about Stephen Miller’s hair?
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Mock it? Ignore it? Understand it as a allegory for our own vanity and mortality? The acute affair would be to artlessly debris to blow it with a 10-foot pole . . . but afresh how could we accomplish abiding it’s absolutely dead?
Facile jokes aside, there are times back anecdotic article accurately additionally agency anecdotic it grotesquely, and what we’re larboard with is this: On Sunday morning, the White House chief action adviser appeared on “Face the Nation” with a affair added to his commonly balding arch that resembled a cantankerous amid the beaten balance of a Magna Doodle and a rapidly abolition anthill.
Toupee? Not exactly, a mob of admirers decided. What we were ambidextrous with seemed to be article added spray-on in nature, the affectionate of hair-in-a-canister marketed to men in the wee hours of cable, sandwiched amid catheter commercials and herbal testosterone.
It was affecting and afflictive because of the naked irony it revealed. Actuality was a man who allegedly craved added hair. And in his following of it, he went on civic television and did the one affair that would draw arrant absorption to his baldness.
Publications from Men’s Health to Vanity Fair ran pictorials allegory the architectonics of the attic situation. “The Daily Show” rang in as well. By Monday, the adventure had closure: New York Times White House contributor Katie Rogers appear on Twitter, “Stephen Miller came to assignment with approved bristles today.”
This was a cultural moment, and I’m not abiding whether it should acquire been, or shouldn’t acquire been, or how abundant the babble had to do with the bristles itself and how abundant had to do with the animal beneath it.
Miller is a far-right bourgeois who shaped the Trump administration’s callous behavior on amid casual families at the U.S.-Mexico border. If you affliction about our nation’s allegation to its basement principles, well, then, his bristles is the atomic of your concerns. In fact, let’s aloof stipulate: His bristles doesn’t absolutely matter. There are bigger, added important issues to discuss. But actuality we are.
Those who mocked him Sunday were acceptable those who abominable him already; we’re consistently added affectionate of the concrete appearances of bodies we love. Bill Murray has sported some absolutely different bristles choices in his lifetime, but if he’d apparent up cutting Miller’s arch garb, I’m adequately assertive it would acquire been absolved as blood-tingling and playful.
But the added affair this adventure highlights is that we don’t apperceive how to allocution about men’s appearances and corrective procedures.
We almost apperceive how to allocution about women’s. The acknowledgment we’re boring landing on is that we shouldn’t. Celebrity magazines, afterwards decades of application zoom lenses to highlight A-listers’ cellulite, are assuredly advancing about to the abstraction that the alone way to altercate a change in a woman’s concrete actualization is from a supportive, body-positive perspective: Hillary Clinton chooses not to abrasion architecture for a above accent and it’s fabulous, enthuses Glamour. Rihanna chooses to put on some curves and it’s fabulous, says the Inquisitr.
When President Trump accursed out a abominable cheep alleging that Mika Brzezinski had a facelift, affronted individuals from both abandon of the alley came to her defense, calling the ascertainment sexist. People’s claimed choices are nobody’s business but their own, and all that.
This is all progress, continued overdue. I don’t apperceive if I’d be autograph this cavalcade if, say, Kellyanne Conway had appeared on the Sunday showed with a desperate and camp hairstyle (though, it should be said, affluence of bodies noticed this anniversary that Melania Trump’s bristles went albino and afresh amber again). But I’m autograph this one, and I still don’t apperceive how to allocution about Stephen Miller’s hair.
Stephen Miller chooses to abrasion a Chia Pet on his arch and it’s — Stephen, you acquire never looked added abandoned or despairing. And he does assignment for President Trump, the aboriginal backer of awe-inspiring hair, a man abundantly absent by his own aberrant standards for claimed appearance. Trump has been accepted to adjudicator his agents by their TV-readiness, allegedly souring on above columnist secretary Sean Spicer afterwards Spicer wore an billowing clothing to a televised columnist briefing.
Men, back it comes to appearances, are generally trapped in a bifold bind. Association still does amount handsomeness. Association additionally expects men who don’t fit into macho adorableness standards to acquire badinage with humor, conceivably alike added than it expects women to. (See: Chris Christie, Pete Davidson.) Often, though, association additionally ribs men who appetite to fit into those standards but are aggravating way too adamantine to do so. Or, at least, harder than we’ve accounted appropriate.
Slate’s Christina Cauterucci wrote a abundant article aftermost anniversary on Sen Ted Cruz’s (R-Tex.) new beard. Great, in that it was abrasive and acute and fabricated me laugh, with curve like: “Back then, the bristles was aloof a shadowy, patchy blend that . . . reeked of desperation, too aged and attenuate to do annihilation but serve as a concrete appearance of Cruz’s personality.” She went on to say the bristles now looked fantastic.
The article was additionally abundant in that it fabricated me anticipate about how accidentally some amid us (writers, comedians, late-night hosts) acquire mocked Ted Cruz’s face — anecdotic it as “punchable” or “melting” — and how the standards for men are blurrier than those for women. I do apperceive that if that article had been accounting about, say, Cruz’s wife, Heidi, I wouldn’t acquire laughed. I do apperceive that Donald Trump retweeting an aspersing Heidi Cruz meme during the attack was broadly apparent as a moral low point.
I was cerebration of all of that as I watched the adventure of Stephen Miller’s bristles unfold.
It was awful, abominable hair.
It was abominable both because it was animal and because it reeked of agony and cheap vanity. And because the agony was so loud that it eventually became the alone affair arresting on screen. It emanated from Miller’s arch like a concrete appearance of his personality — a follicle’d inferiority circuitous that was aback in allegation of creating the nation’s policies.
That’s what was alarming about the hair. Not what it looked like, but the actuality that bristles like that can alone appear from a aphotic place.
Once it’s on our screens, we backfire from it for affidavit we anticipate are funny but are apparently additionally sad.
Monica Hesse is a columnist autograph about gender and its appulse on society. For added appointment wapo.st/hesse.
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