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The lesson of Tony Blair’s long hair

Written by Vanessa Friedman

What is it with male politicians and their hair as of late? After many years — centuries — of nondescript brief cuts, their crowning glory has all of a sudden changed into a type of artistic expression. And supply of controversy.

It usually appeared as if nobody may prime Donald Trump’s extremely difficult cream puff of a building — 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.

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

Or, relatively, Tony Blair’s long, 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.

Although Blair was on digital camera to debate devolution and the chance 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 most of the information. Comparisons on social media ranged from Doctor Who to “the possessed Vigo painting in Ghostbusters.”

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

On the opposite hand, nonetheless, it’s not as if Blair would have lacked entry to house hair care instruments. Unlike many, he didn’t select to develop a pandemic beard, so some trimming was occurring. And his spouse Cherie, or their grown youngsters, may in all probability have helped with a minimize or two.

Also, salons reopened in Britain on April 12, which means that Blair was having fun with his experimentation with hirsuteness — no less than till the judgment of the watching world rained down.

And therein lies the lesson.

Blair’s hair was a shock, partly, as a result of we’re merely not used to seeing long hair on male world leaders, former or not. (When it involves feminine leaders and hair, as with feminine leaders and gown, the principles are totally different.) They are imagined to have hair, of course. 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 basic, Eisenhower was the exception that proved the rule. The balding former Tory social gathering chief, William Hague (keep in mind him?), was roundly mocked for the baseball caps he wore to cowl up his shiny pate.

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

For each sexes, hair is, as anthropologist Grant McCracken wrote in his e-book “Big Hair,” “our court of deliberation, the place where we contemplate who and what we are.”

And what males can we affiliate with long hair, particularly long grey hair? It performs a task in so many cultural traditions that it may be onerous to decide on.

Long hair is related to the photographs of heavy steel rock stars and hippies, for instance. And certainly, Blair advised The Evening Standard he had not had such long hair since his days in a rock band often known as the Ugly Rumours at Oxford University. Which raises all types of questions on his later-in-life need to relive them.

Beyond that, long hair additionally evokes the Bible, to not point out Moses (and another quantity of Old Testament prophets). Also, it connects to Gandalf the Grey 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.

Also poets, although their long, flowing hair tends to not be grey, no less than within the collective creativeness.

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

Indeed, what Blair’s hair exhibits as a lot as something is the unstated public assumption that after our leaders depart the best workplace in no matter land, they’ll stay frozen as they had been at that second, preserved in amber and reminiscences simply as they had been after they steered the ship of state — even when they had been comparatively younger whereas on the helm.

That method, after they reemerge as elder statesmen each now and again to bestow their hard-earned knowledge on the world, their authority is recognizable. Sure, we all know they could be getting on with their lives as personal residents, however they aren’t imagined to flaunt it. It makes them appear inconsistent. (Remember the hoo-ha round Hillary Clinton’s first girl hair cuts?) Unreliable.

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

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