Right-wing politics and crazy hair: When a haircut becomes a political manifesto

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in his majesty The Wig: The Story of a Hairy Mind, As Luigi Amara tells us, Andy Warhol’s entire reputation revolved around hairstyling, which was hairstyling. That platinum hair was sold at a Christie’s auction in 2006 for $10,800 and became a commodity. It’s not an understatement to say that a man who spent his artistic career basking in pop fame knew he had to turn his hair into an icon in order to become one. It’s something that 21st century social media-savvy radical leaders seem to understand well. After Friday, November 24 Mele’s victory in Argentina and the rise to power of Geert Wilders A growing phenomenon of internet memes in the Netherlands: the relationship between real and weird hairstyles. Is there a link? And if so why?

There was a time when it was common for a famous person, with power and pedigree, to have unusual hair. Style It was long, full of artificial curls and pigtails in a bow, or packed with loose threads that fell where they wanted. Psychologist John Carl Flugel discussed this issue. One of the first texts on fashion semiotics Published in the 20th century. In the year The French Revolution of 1789 brought what Flügel called “The Great Betrayal.” It happened among men, and turned frugality into a sign of honor and manliness. Before that, the most beautiful fabrics, the most noble colors and the most extravagant wigs were expressions of masculinity. In fact, the latter were an unmistakable status symbol.

The fashion for wigs (also known as periwigs) began in the royal courts of Europe in the 16th century when a syphilis epidemic caused male baldness. King Louis XII, who had a full head of shiny hair, started wearing wigs to hide his alopecia and was balding at the age of 23. But it was Louis XIV, the famous “Sun King”, who changed the wig. to an item that must be among its topics. The wig was a powerful symbol of dissimulation and inequality, so in 1792 the National Convention (the legislature of revolutionary France) abolished the wig, and more than 20,000 barbers in France were forced to become barbers. Now the material they had to work with was real hair growing from their heads, attached to their own bodies.

Fashion changed and affected everyone. “In the early 19th century, a short haircut became the standard of hygiene throughout Europe,” says Ana Velasco Molpesceres, a professor of communication at Complutense University and the author of the book. The history of fashion in Spain: from Mantella to bikini (History of Fashion in Spain: From Mantella to Bikini).

Enlightenment values ​​and the liberal revolutions that began to appear in England had some symbolic cachet in the new short hairstyle. But the disappearance of the Whigs among the British was a different cause. Faced with a shortage of tackum powder, which is necessary to protect synthetic hair, the state (included by Prime Minister William Pitt) introduced a duty law on hair powder, which turned wigs into an economic problem among the upper classes. The same romantic ideals that fed the nationalism upon which the new Europe was being built and were inspired by the aesthetics of ancient Greece and Rome imposed hairstyles on men’s heads similar to the emperors and sages of ancient civilizations. The most famous of all, and the favorite of the dandy Beau Brummel, was Brutus.

Francisco Umbral, in ‘Dandy Anatomy’.

If you want to know what Brutus looks like, you can do two things: search for characters in Jane Austen’s novels or look at Miley’s head. “Every time I see him, he reminds me of one of the characters that Jacques-Louis David drew. It is interesting, if you will notice, that the revolutionary rebels who built the liberal governments were the inspiration for Millay’s ideas. He is another rebel in an age of change, and he is a liberator, although in his most extreme expression,” Velasco Molpeceres explained. The leader’s hair style, although it accepts distant historical references, has more to do with the idea of ​​not conforming to the standards of beauty of the time, precisely to show that he is different. The same goes for Dutchman Geert Wilders. I think you chose those hairstyles because they are confusing and very high profile. The ambiguous and subversive aesthetic that has always suited the left now embodies individualistic neoliberalism: it is directly opposed to the bourgeois and at the same time a futile assertion,” continues Velasco Molpeceres.

Anthony Gutiérrez-Ruby, director of public and institutional communications consultancy Ideograma and adviser to Argentina’s Sergio Massa campaign, agrees: “For this new type of leader, like Trump, having a dramatic hairstyle has a lot to do with the growth of digital culture.” And a way to turn heads into graphic icons. The hair acts as a digital gadget, which in turn conveys the idea of ​​powerful and unclassifiable leadership. For them, the idea of ​​inalienability contains the seeds of true freedom. In Mille’s case, the hair served to structure the entire campaign around the image of the lion.

Yulia Tymoshenko said during a press conference in 2009.
Yulia Tymoshenko said during a press conference in 2009.EFE

There are additional ingredients.

According to sociologist and political scientist Luis Arroyo, men’s hair is always a sign of strength and wisdom, while the absence of hair is considered the complete opposite, which may explain the protruding tuffin that Donald Trump wears to hide his baldness. at all costs. But there is also a conscious effort to show that they are different. “In recent articles on the new hyper leadership phenomenon, e.g Spin dictatorsBy Daniel Treisman and look outThere is an almost Freudian analysis of these manifestations and their neurotic personalities by Jason Stanley. They believe they are unique and find a way to challenge the establishment with their hair inconsistency.

A good example of this is Boris Johnson. Although educated at one of the best private schools in the country, he has always been characterized by heresy and violation of good manners, and uses his hair to show that he is different from the establishment. According to Arroyo, who refers to the Instagram account, hair can convey wealth and privilege For Rick. This record, which collects high-end men’s leathers, was born as a hobby of four friends who, at the same time every morning, would watch people go to breakfast at the cafeteria on Jorge Juan Street in the wealthy district. Salamanca neighborhood in Madrid. “You can tell they’ve led a completely idle life. I don’t know if it’s because they’re retired or because they’ve never worked,” said Javier López de Hierro, one of the creators. Today, Peel de Ricc is a brand for “fans of the good life,” in which hair is rarely seen so closely as Geert Wilders.

If the revolutionaries and dandies were the pioneers of short but messy hair, the first leading men of the silent film era sported neat, orderly hairstyles, parted on one side with pomade and always kept out of harm’s way. “In the year Around 1900, the idea of ​​a gentleman was already established. Then Hollywood changed the global scale that continues to this day,” Velasco Molpeceres said. The pomaded hair, which Hitler used to convey the idea of ​​order and flexibility, has been associated with cautious poses since the mid-20th century.

In any case, hairstyles have deep cultural meanings and characteristics that vary from country to country: Argentina has seen the rise of a memorable leader like Carlos Menem, whose memorable sidekicks didn’t match the mainstream standards of the time. Evo Morales of Bolivia used his black feather as a symbol of pride. Gender also has an effect on understanding the symbolism of hair. Gutierrez-Ruby argues the difference: “Women care more about their hair being clean and healthy. Vázquez Molpeceres presents the stunning traditional braid worn by Yulia Tymoshenko in the Orange Revolution: “If she had reached her peak in the age of Instagram, her braid would have been iconic.” Her hairstyle was a tribute to the peasant women of her country It was a manifesto.He said.

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