The Lesson of Tony Blair’s Lengthy Hair

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What’s it with male politicians and their hair today? After a long time — centuries — of nondescript brief cuts, their crowning glory has all of the sudden become a type of inventive expression. And supply of controversy.

It usually appeared as if nobody might high Donald Trump’s extremely sophisticated 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 Road as Britain’s prime minister.

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

Or slightly 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 Baines Johnson.

Although Mr. Blair was on digicam to debate devolution and the potential for one other Scottish independence referendum, it was clear nearly instantly that his evolution from chipper reform-minded P.M. with barely spiky New Labour/Cool Britannia-era hair to Samson-like determine was making a lot of the information. Comparisons on social media ranged from Dr. Who to “the possessed Vigo painting in Ghostbusters.”

On the one hand, the hair mustn’t have been stunning. Everybody, in spite of everything, has spent the final 12 months having to do residence hair care, as Covid protocols meant salons had 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 Mr. Blair’s hair obtained lengthy — so did all of ours. Former P. M.s: They’re identical to us!

Alternatively, nevertheless, it’s not as if Mr. Blair would have lacked entry to residence hair-care instruments. In contrast to many, he didn’t select to develop a pandemic beard, so some trimming was occurring. And his spouse Cherie, or their grown kids, might in all probability have helped with a reduce or two.

Additionally, salons reopened in Britain on April 12. Which means that Mr. Blair was having fun with his experimentation with hirsuteness — a minimum of till the judgment of the watching world rained down.

And therein lies the lesson.

Mr. Blair’s hair was a shock, partly, as a result of we’re merely not used to seeing lengthy hair on male world leaders, former or not. (In the case of feminine leaders and hair, as with feminine leaders and costume, the principles are totally different.) They’re presupposed to have hair, after all. Famously, no bald man since Dwight D. Eisenhower has received the presidency. Hair = testosterone within the lizard mind — and since he had been a wartime common, D.D.E. was the exception that proved the rule. The balding former Tory get together chief, William Hague (keep in mind him?), was roundly mocked for the baseball caps he wore to cowl up his shiny pate.

However Mr. 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, because the anthropologist Grant McCracken wrote in his ebook “Large Hair,” “our courtroom 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 task in so many cultural traditions that it may be laborious to decide on.

Lengthy hair is linked to the photographs of heavy steel rock stars and hippies, for instance. And certainly, Mr. Blair advised The Night Normal he had not had such lengthy hair since his days in a rock band often called 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 another variety of Outdated Testomony prophets). Additionally, 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 combover.

Additionally poets, although their lengthy flowing hair tends to not be grey, a minimum of within the collective creativeness.

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

Certainly, what Mr. Blair’s hair exhibits as a lot as something is the unstated public assumption that when our leaders go away the best workplace in no matter land, they may stay frozen as they had been at that second, preserved in amber and reminiscences simply as they had been once they steered the ship of state. Even when they had been comparatively younger whereas on the helm.

That manner, once they re-emerge 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 non-public residents, however they aren’t presupposed to flaunt it. It makes them appear inconsistent. (Bear in mind the hoo-ha round Hillary Clinton’s first girl hair cuts?) Unreliable.

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

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