This Monday started like any other day for most Americans.
They begrudgingly dragged themselves from their deep slumber, poured themselves enough coffee to mentally prepare for the beginning of a week and flipped on Face The Nation to tune into a rare cameo by Stephen Miller in which he weighed in on the polarizing topic of illegal immigration.
And then his hair happened, and any chance of a rousing debate just went down the drain because hair doesn’t usually come with a flammable or combustible warning label.
If you didn’t catch the interview or you’re too dignified for Twitter or social media, allow me to regale you with the cliff-notes:
Stephen Miller, Senior Advisor to the White House, showed up for his interview flaunting sprayed-on hair. Not extensions or plugs. Not a wig. Not some hybrid of a comb-over and toupee. Straight-up paint-on hair and EVERYONE noticed. Hell, I’m sure Stevie Wonder noticed.
And look – it’s hard not to make fun of such a ridiculous fashion faux-pas. I mean, I have a mile-long list of jokes and puns in my back pocket just itching to come out.
But the fact that Miller’s hair was the main focal point of a pretty serious and acrimonious debate is symptomatic of two alarming problems in America: 1) we are far too easily distracted by inconsequential topics and 2) we really have to stop focusing on people’s looks as if appearance negates or gives credit to one’s integrity, intelligence, likability, or ability to do their job well. And the latter should be true whether you fundamentally like a person or despise them.
When we like a celebrity or politician and their looks are attacked, we call it “fat-shaming” or “misogynistic” or “immature.” In extreme cases, if the person is a minority, we go so far as to call it “racist.” (You needn’t look any further than Michelle Obama and how heavily she was scrutinized for ridiculous things like inappropriately baring her shoulders. These attacks were countered with accusations of racism, which is a line of reasoning I’m not exactly following).
But, when the Trumps took to the office, the same people who criticized the Right for making fun of the Obamas were the first to slut-shame Melania or (ad nauseam) bring up Donald’s hair and orange-tinted skin.
The thing is – targeting someone’s appearance just continues to perpetuate an incredibly superficial culture in which a person’s value is measured by wrinkles and numbers on a scale.
At most, it’s toxic and mean. At least, it’s unimaginative and low-brow. It’s sort of like going to a comedy show where the comedian talks about “not understanding the opposite sex” for an hour.
Making fun of someone’s looks is an easy “go-to” that speaks more to the perpetuator’s lack of creativity and intelligence than it does to the victim’s unattractiveness.
It’s perfectly fine to not like or agree with a public figure. There are PLENTY of famous people I find morally bankrupt and/or complete morons. But those are characteristics people SHOULD be judged on because they actually MATTER and can have a trickle-down effect on our society.
Spray-on hair will not.