Fake authenticity and pretending not to use hair products

Fake authenticity and pretending not to use hair products November 25, 2011

I’ve consulted with an expert — a licensed professional with decades of experience in crafting the hair of men who can afford to pay top dollar for such services — and she says this New York Times profile of Mitt Romney’s hairstylist is ridiculous.

Mr. de Magistris, who gave Mr. Romney a $70 trim three weeks ago, agreed to share some of the secrets behind his most famous client’s coiffure in between haircuts the other day.

No, he said, Mr. Romney does not color his hair. Any such artificial enhancement, Mr. de Magistris said, “is not — what do you call it? — in his DNA.”

Despite holding its shape under all but the most extreme conditions, it is gel and mousse-free. “I don’t put any product in there,” he avowed.

The expert opinion: No one’s hair stays in place like that without some product in there. And the coloring used everywhere but Romney’s temples isn’t always done as seamlessly or artfully as it could be.

The expert also says this is all silly. There’s nothing morally wrong with using products to keep your hair in place and there’s nothing shameful about deciding to keep your hair the same color it was when you were younger. The expert feels its an insult to her profession that candidates tend to lie about this sort of thing.

Political candidates have to go before the cameras on television — that means lots of work on hair and makeup, lots of necessary product, just to appear normal under the lights in high-def. We never criticize a candidate for wearing a shirt that’s been ironed, or a suit that’s been tailored, or for otherwise looking more presentable than someone who’s just rolled out of bed. But after several election cycles of stupidity and silliness around candidates’ hairstyles, the current vogue requires them to lie for the sake of “authenticity.”

And let’s be clear that this is what we’re doing. We expect and require our candidates to appear presentable. And at the same time we expect and require them to tell us that they expend no money or time meeting this expectation.

I’m reminded of a story Will Ferrell and Adam McKay told about Ferrell’s preparation for his role in the movie The Other Guys:

Mr. FERRELL: Once I found kind of the right glasses for this guy, it kind of set the character off. But he’s a guy who’s very kind of well-put-together, but all of his suits are probably bought at the next step below like a Men’s Warehouse, not quite a Men’s Warehouse.

Mr. McKAY: Marshalls?

Mr. FERRELL: Maybe a Marshalls. And so he’s very sensible, very prudent with his finances, and yeah, so we try to embody that character in the look.

Mr. McKAY: We said a little bit, it was like Keith Olbermann with a gun … sort of the vibe.

GROSS: You mentioned the eyeglasses, and they’re kind of like the ’80s version of aviator glasses.

Mr. FERRELL: Yeah, they’re not — they’re just a little off.

GROSS: Those wire-rimmed aviator glasses.

Mr. FERRELL: As soon as I found them, we forwarded pictures to Adam, and Adam was like, that’s it. That’s the look.

GROSS: How did you look for them?

Mr. FERRELL: Just with the prop master and just kind of looked through a sea of glasses, and …

GROSS: The prop master brings it in. You don’t go to, like, LensCrafters and say, give me something very ’80s.

Mr. FERRELL: Right. No, I didn’t do that. But I did go to a — I wanted to give myself a standard-issue haircut, and I did go to a Supercuts in the San Fernando Valley and just walked in and got a standard haircut, and I then forwarded the pictures to Adam. And you kind of were shocked. You…

Mr. McKAY: It was a thing where we heard Will was going to do it, and in theory, it sounded like such a great idea, but you know, you have to remember, when you’re about to go into a movie, that look is what you carry for the whole movie. So…

Mr. FERRELL: I think your quote was: “We still want you to look good on camera.”

All of which is just to say:

1) Can we please drop the colossally stupid and disingenuous nonsense about pretending it’s “inauthentic” for candidates to do what they need to do to make their hair look presentable before the cameras?

2) If you’re a political candidate in need of some quality, affordable hair care in the Philadelphia area, I can recommend a top-notch expert who can, in turn, recommend some top-quality products.

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