A friend of mine sent me a link yesterday to the most insane and hilarious story about the reaction to Donald Trump being elected president that I’ve read to date. It was from New York Magazine’s The Cut, titled, “The Post-Trump Haircut” written by Heidi Mitchell.
The Cut bills itself as “A site for women who want to view the latest fashion trends; read provocative takes on issues that matter, from politics to relationships.” This friend of mine is not a woman who wants to view the latest fashions trends, etc. so I’m not quite sure how he happened upon this story other than to say it is a good practice to read and learn about things outside of your own interests. It’s how we evolve to become better people. But that doesn’t matter here. What matters here is the smattering of sad absurdity the story unintentionally points out.
In the story, which you should read for yourself if you want a good laugh, Mitchell looks at the trend of Washington D.C.-area women flocking to their hairstylists or the hair coloring counter at the corner drug store en masse to make radical changes to their looks in response to the recent presidential election.
The first paragraph of the story concludes with this quote from one of these women: “I was like, f** it! The election deadened my soul. I think I wanted to do something defiant to feel stronger.”
I’m not a woman. I’ve never been a woman and I have no desire to be a woman. I aim to understand women in the same way I aim to understand all living humans with whom I share this planet. That is to say, as best I can. But I can never ever know what it’s like to be a woman afraid of a Trump presidency and I won’t ever claim to. But I am a person with hair and a healthy, manageable amount of vanity to admit that getting a fresh haircut can improve a day, and potentially, your chances at getting laid. But defiance?
Another quote from the piece: “‘It was like a mass declaration of independence. Clients, especially those over 40, expressed a feeling of loss and uncertainty,’ says Butler. ‘Maybe this is some kind of compensation for not getting what we wanted in the election. By changing our hair, we can control the outcome.’”
Outcome? What outcome are you trying to control? I wonder if this woman understands how politics work. The only hair that has ever had any influence over world affairs is the Rachael. And we’re long past that look’s influence.
Further disclosure: The longest my hair has ever been was a little past my shirt collar and almost to my shoulders. When I did cut it off and returned to my trusted high and tight ’do, I felt that I was taking a big step by making the decision to hack off what I had spent a long time growing and maintaining. And I’ll admit that some of these women were even braver than I when they cut off their hair, which may have been longer for a greater amount of time. Changing the way you look is a big deal. But I have to wonder what kind of vapid people consider the bold move of getting a completely new hairstyle with somehow righting what they perceive as wrong in the world. Change on the scale of a new haircut is not change on a global scale in any sort of way. Not since the Rachel, anyway. And then, never again.
Thankfully, Mitchell spoke with a psychologist about what she calls the “phenomenon” of women changing their look following November’s election.
“‘When people experience a change that is so opposite from their value system, that’s very unnerving,’ says Dr. Jacobs, who has a private practice in Laguna Beach, California. ‘People will use all kinds of coping mechanisms, and cutting their hair and changing their look is one way to show or feel that they are doing something over which they have control.’”
Oh, OK. So it’s the kind of vapid people who live in a bubble and panic when that bubble bursts and they’re faced with values and opinions different from their own. So really, these women taking part in this phenomenon have the mental and social coping capacity of a preschooler who has to share the sandbox with other kids for the first time. Confusion, panic, tantrum throwing. Thank you, Dr. Jacobs, for answering my question.
Mitchell then talks about a woman who removed the blond highlights “she maintained forever.” Mitchell writes, “A move away from the look of political parrot Kellyanne Conway, perhaps.” Yeah, I don’t think there’s any woman in her right mind, Trump fan or not, who would want to have hair similar to Kellyanne Conway’s. But removing blond highlights is a far cry from rebelling against the dumpster fire-singed kitty cat hairball that holds court on Conway’s head.
And in a quote that sounds like a line from a female character in a Christmas-themed Hallmark Channel TV movie—one that, like all of them, couldn’t pass the Bechdel Test even if the cast was all female—this gem: “For many of us, with this election, it’s like your boyfriend dumped you in a really shocking way with no explanation and then moved in next door.”
Sorry, princess, but there was an explanation. And part of the explanation of why that boyfriend dumped you is that people like you encouraged the closed-minded divide between the sides and ran a candidate who was, like you, too entrenched in her own shit within her own bubble to beat the orange hemorrhoid who ran on a platform of change, much like President Barack Obama did in 2008. I know, I know, she won the popular vote but come on, we all know that doesn’t matter now.
Mitchell’s story does nothing to help the plight that women can face by being labeled as delicate flowers put on earth for the viewing pleasure of men. The story concludes with another quote from the woman who feels dumped: “She is resigned to fighting against what she sees as a mandate for sexism through her own style choices. ‘Now, I feel like my hair says you can’t bring me down. This misogyny will not persevere. The bumper sticker for me is, ‘I am woman, hear me roar.’”
Now, I’m disappointed by a Trump win, too. (Equally, I would be disappointed by a Hilary win.) I was disappointed that he had his own reality TV show. I was even disappointed that he had a cameo in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. And I’ve been bummed out about a canyon of other things that, at times, updating my look with a trip to the barber helped cheer me up. But I never once mistook that fleeting cheer as anything more than what it was: a temporary mood enhancer and confidence booster. But I tell you what, I would kill, fucking kill, to be able to feel better about the state of world affairs and my place among them by doing something as simple as cutting my hair.
But as I said, I'm not a woman.