The Gilding of America: Blondes in the Age of Trump

What do Kellyanne Conway, Tomi Lahren, Ivanka Trump, Ann Coulter, and nearly every well-known female Fox News personality have in common? I mean, aside from the fact that they’re liars and on the wrong side of history?

Long, straight, blond hair.

No, I’m not saying all blonde women are conservatives. What I’m talking about is the Republican-WASP-Trump voter-Middle American-Southern-white supremacist preoccupation with long, straight, blond hair and what it might signify.

Fox News, of course, is trying to sell “a look that defiantly embraces the most conservative notions of femininity and firmly rejects any idea of modernity, let alone feminism” (https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2017/feb/20/women-fox-news-dress-alike-republicans-blondes-pundits-ann-coulter-kellyanne-conway-rightwingers).

But long, straight, blond hair can signify more than that. Intentionally or not, it might send the message that a woman has bought into the ideals on which Trump’s platform was built: elitism, the restoration of American values, the rejection of immigrants, and the promotion of racial purity.

Trump himself uses “blondness” to sell these ideals to his voters: first, with his own unnatural choice of hair color, which mimics the garish gold of his Trump Tower penthouse, a palace in the sky fit for a senile, pussy-grabbing sun king.

It’s no accident that the name “Trump” is featured prominently on Trump properties and products in big, gold letters. This facilitates an immediate connection between Trump’s identity (his yellow-gold hair and name emblazoned on everything) and the false promise of wealth and luxury he dangles in front of his gullible, worshipful voters.

He dangles Ivanka in front of them too, dangles her by her flaxen hair as if to say, “Look at this beautiful thing I created!”, misdirection that allows him to plunder America while his voters sigh and lust over Midas’ statuesque, golden daughter.

Then there’s his mouthpiece Kellyanne, Ilsa: She-Wolf of the Trump Campaign, guarding his reputation like a feral watchdog, dishwater blond hair with a dead look in her eyes.

And of course there’s Melania, a brunette who keeps getting blonder and blonder. You see, Trump needs to make his voters forget she’s an immigrant who earned money in America before she had a work visa (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-administration-surpreme-court-immigration-melania-trump-deported-first-lady-visa-a7706786.html ), and one way to do this, aside from never letting her speak in public or operate her own Twitter account, is to turn her into an all-American blonde.

Because Melania too is part of the dream Trump sells his voters: Instead of a chicken in every pot, it’s a bombshell in every bed, which plays right to the demographic of red-blooded American men who voted for him and believe this is their birthright, their well-deserved reward for being good patriots.

But now let’s move beyond Trump’s gilded inner circle to deconstruct some of the other things blond hair might signify:

1.Long, straight, blond hair = status and wealth. Long, straight, blond hair is expensive to maintain when your hair is neither blond nor straight, and with only 2-16% of the world’s population naturally blond (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blond), it’s safe to assume there are a lot of fakers.

For example, the average cost for highlights alone, which many women get every six weeks, is $90 (https://www.thumbtack.com/p/hair-highlights-price). That’s at least $720 a year without even considering any of the other styling services, tools, and products women purchase.

All of this maintenance takes time too: hours in a salon chair with nothing much to do but post on social media or read magazines, and then hours at home in front a mirror with a blow dryer and flat iron. This is time that could otherwise be spent at work or at home doing more productive things, reinforcing the idea that not only is wasting time in a salon something women are expected to endure in order to be admitted into a particular class, but also that women must passively wait, while men (who don’t spend hours and hours trapped in salons) actively do— a notion far more likely to be endorsed by conservatives than liberals.

So when women walk out of salons with expensive-looking, sleek manes of blond hair, they might be telegraphing to the world that they’re members of an elite class (“blondes” with high status) with expendable cash and leisure time who think it’s important to present a façade to the public – which pretty much sums up Trump’s life philosophy.

2. Blonde = all-American = conservative. When you think of “typical” Americans, what part of America comes to mind? Middle America. Middle America was settled by waves of Scandinavian immigrants, and 80% of Scandinavia is blond (http://bigthink.com/strange-maps/214-the-blonde-map-of-europe). So it’s no surprise that Americans equate America with being blonde.

It’s also no surprise that for years Fox News has beamed this image right back into its viewers’ homes, with a few exceptions. This homogeneous vision of America is safe, comforting, and familiar, facilitating trust between network and viewers. It’s one of the biggest and most subtle lies perpetrated by Fox News, an alternative reality that predates even the idea of fake news: that America, at its core, has always been and will always be fair-skinned and fair-haired – each year a bountiful, blond harvest, a fresh new crop of Tomi Lahren lookalikes.

And if America thinks it’s blonde, why wouldn’t it also want to see that reflected in its elected officials? House of Cards addresses this idea, when, after Claire Underwood dyes her hair brown, an advisor tells her “Iowa voters love the blonde” (https://www.buzzfeed.com/arabellesicardi/the-hair-warfare-on-house-of-cards?utm_term=.fjo5An9qo#.qa2RXwk8m).

Immigrants can also choose to buy into American identity by becoming blonde. I’ve already mentioned this in connection with Melania, but the first time this concept became clear to me was when I was doing research on Irish immigrants. Examining song lyrics, I ran across “Since my Daughter Plays on the Typewriter,” also known as “Bridget McGuire.” In the song, a father laments his daughter’s transition from obedient Irish daughter to an Irish-American career woman who uses American slang, sings opera songs instead of folk songs, learns how to use a typewriter, and “bleached her hair till it is lighter” (http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/songster/23-since-my-daughter-plays-on-the-typewriter.htm).

Or, like Scarface, you can go the route of pitching your tent on American soil and then seducing and marrying a blond sexpot, which is like planting your flag deeply in America.

If this connection between Trump voters and blondness seems far-fetched, do a search for “Trump rallies” in Google images. What you will see is a cascading display, amber wave after amber wave, of light-haired people, Trump’s base in the Midwest and South.

3. Straight, blond hair is the opposite of “immigrant hair.” In symbolic terms, the former is light, civilized, controlled, and good; the latter is dark, uncivilized, uncontrolled, and bad. It’s the difference between “real” Americans and the Other. These two hair colors and textures operate in a “binary opposition,” a pair of opposite concepts that only acquire meaning when defined against one other.

Fairy tales, mythology, literature, children’s books, comic books, television shows, Disney films, and a host of other pop culture texts have helped reinforce this idea in the Western world: Fair-haired characters with smooth manes tend to be innocent, and dark-haired characters with serpentine locks tend to be evil. (There are, of course, exceptions.)

With this binary opposition in mind, I have to wonder if the outrage about Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi commercial emanated not only from the politically-correct Left, but also from the Right. There’s no doubt Pepsi shamelessly co-opted The Black Lives Matter movement and The Resistance to make money, but there’s still something empowering and threatening about Jenner casting off her blond wig and joining the multicultural protestors outside, privileging, for once, the dark half of the binary over light.

Breitbart has joined in on the blonde-as-innocent victim game too, perpetuating the inflammatory—and as far as I can tell wholly anecdotal and unproven—notion that blondes in Sweden are more susceptible to migrant violence (http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/09/26/migrants-racist-blonde-women-sweden/), an idea promoted expressly for the purpose of escalating hatred against immigrants in America.

And really, what other explanation is there for artistic renderings of a blond Jesus? Many Christians, especially Evangelicals, refuse to entertain the idea that Jesus must have looked like the immigrants now being denied entrance into America. If man is made in God’s image, then God’s image must be changed to fit man’s.

4. Blonde = racially superior and pure. You really didn’t think I’d deconstruct blondness without mentioning this, did you? Given the rise of Breitbart, the sheer number of Nazis and white supremacists in the White House and GOP, and Trump’s re-energizing of the White Power Movement, I’d be remiss if I failed to address it.

Remember the “Lebensborn” in Season 2, Episode 5 of The Man in the High Castle? Well, sometimes truth is more terrifying than fiction. The Nazis actually did institute a eugenics program with the goal of pairing blond, blue-eyed German women with SS officers (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-quot-lebensborn-quot-program).

But why bring this up now when it seems so, well, archaically dystopian? Because there are people who want to continue this kind of experiment today, either through actual selective breeding (stumble onto a Stormfront message board and, believe me, you’ll read more than you ever wanted to know about this); or through discriminatory health, economic, legal, and educational policies that target immigrants (https://newrepublic.com/article/140641/trump-turned-gop-party-eugenics).

It’s also worth noting that one of the things Trump, Le Pen, and Wilders have in common, aside from the fact that they’re fascists, is their bleached hair, satirized in this Düsseldorf carnival float (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqklKinPyuI) which associates them with Hitler and his dream of an Aryan master race. “Blond ist das neue Braun” is another way of saying, “We’re not letting brown people drain our resources and take our jobs anymore.” Or, to put it another way, “Blond, blond über alles.”

And finally, this brings us to Hillary. You just know there are Trump fan idiots reading this and saying “But what about Hillary, huh?” (because that’s their default position on everything, even as they stand by and watch America become Putin’s bitch, like bored extras in a gangbang porn); and you know there are liberal idiots reading this and saying “I’m blonde and I’m not a Trump voter!”

Obviously, Hillary has blond hair too, but she maintains a natural-looking, short style with grey interspersed.  It’s a deliberate strategy that both humanizes and masculinizes her, distinguishing her from the artificiality and traditional femininity of Trumpworld — which, of course, is the same ammunition used against her by the Right to criticize her looks.

Let me put it another way: When Megyn Kelly left Fox News for NBC, there could have been no clearer symbol of her break with conservative conformity than cutting her long, blond hair and sporting a new, more tomboyish style.

In the end, no matter what your feelings about long, straight, blond hair or what it signifies, there is one indisputable fact: Over time, bleach destroys hair’s integrity, and the only way to get rid of the damage completely is to lop it off and start over.

Seriously, America, don’t you think it’s time for a haircut?

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