March 6th, 2009



I just stumbled across the BBC's blog on the first 100 days of Barack Obama's presidency and this is the first post I read:

Rajini Vaidyanathan: Is all the stress of being president going to Barack Obama's head, quite literally?

Several news websites have noted that the president's hair has been getting as white as his house.

During the campaign, a theory was doing the rounds that President Obama had been grey for sometime, but at the start of the campaign had started dying his hair. His barber dismissed the suggestion, however.

Whatever the truth of the matter, these days Mr Obama seems quite content to acknowledge his changing hair colour

A few months ago he told a campaign rally that the "the grey is coming quick," and "by the time I'm sworn in, I will look the part."

Perhaps those who are splitting hairs (excuse the pun), about the president's more distinguished look should relax. If he's happy, then what's the big deal?

According to the bio, this is Vaidyanathan commenting on the use of the New Media, which apparently means discussing his hair like she's suddenly found herself on the most vapid and mind numbing of celebrity stalker shows.

The post probably wouldn't be so bad if she hadn't ended with the, 'if he's happy,' part, and had instead decided to focus on the idea that there could be a shift in Obama's image, and the hair change is a representation of this. She could have focused on what kind of signals grey hair sends to an audience. It's different for men and women--for women, grey hair signals a lack of sexuality, of moving beyond her prime, and other negative connotations. For men, however, it's a signal of maturity, of intelligence, and even, in some cases, dignity. None of it has a shit of truth in it, beyond that some people with grey hair are intelligent and some aren't sexy, but a shift by Obama to let the grey out, for example, could very well be part of giving the President some image credibility amongst the older voters in the States (the youth vote has probably wandered off now, to focus on something else). I remember reading an essay a long time ago about how people reacted to leaders who appeared older than those who appeared younger, and Obama's 'youth', which made a nice political point against the much older McCain, could be no longer seen as an asset for him now.

Or, y'know, we could focus on the fashion, like Entertainment Tonight.