I can probably assure you that you have heard the word elections in the last few days, weeks, or months. Yes, the United States of America, the most powerful country in the world, was in the process of electing its new president and vice-president, and the whole world has been watching. This run has been quite interesting (terrifying) to witness, but here we are, bracing for impact. The good news is we are not here to talk about politics per se. We are here to talk about that one thing we all have in common and that we love so much – HAIR. The untangled history of the first ladies and hairdos. Have any of you ever paused to wonder the importance of rocking a good hair day every day at the White House? As you may guess, haircuts in the white house are never just cosmetic. There's a hidden political message in every strand (The Economist, 2020). All eyes are always on you!
What does it mean to be the first lady anyway? This role has never been officially defined, and it has evolved over time. However, one thing is for sure; our first ladies are prominent figures in the political and social life of the nation and the world. A representative of her husband on official and ceremonial occasions, the first lady is closely watched. Unpaid, unelected, yet, they become role models for how American women should dress, speak, and cut their hairs. Here you will find a list of our favorite First Ladies' styles.
1. We love Jackie Kennedy, and we cannot deny it. It is often said that the Kennedys are the closest thing America has ever had to royalty, and Jackie, my dears, dressed and cleaned up like a queen. She was a true fashion icon in America. She was the author of dozens of iconic looks, including the signature bouffant flip (which we could write an entire blog post about). Jackie Kennedy and her sense of fashion are exquisite-she was and still is an icon in a way no First Lady has ever been.
2. Mamie Eisenhower – She is responsible for defining the role of the color PINK in the world of fashion. She loved this color so much that by the end of her husband's presidency, the American public had come to associate the color with femininity. She is the reason on a gender reveal party you pick the color pink to find out that you are having a girl. She also originated the one and only double side bun! So, for those of you who love to dress up as Princess Leia on Halloween, you already know where it comes from.
3. Eleanor Roosevelt – What an exquisite woman. She is literally the model of the modern-day First Lady. Mrs. Roosevelt was a diplomat and a very well known activist. Her humanitarian work is highly recognized in her own country and abroad. When gender roles in America were evolving at a difficult age, she became the ideal role model for new generations to come – newly independent women ready to take on the world. Her hair was short, minimal, and a little more towards the "masculine" side. Her locks portrayed her as a woman ready to take a seat at a table prepared to speak her mind.
4. Barbara Bush Let's start by remembering that Mrs. Bush drove the secret service of the USA crazy. She refused to ride in limousines and insisted on flying commercial instead of wasting fuel on private jets (let's not forget her husband was a Republican president, and they are often not big on eco-friendly actions). Her style always favored comfort. She never dyed her hair after it turned white at a very young age. Her look was overly criticized as the media, and the public claimed she looked grandmotherly. However, this is yet another reason to give it up for Mrs. Bush, as she was brave enough to let her hair age naturally from the very beginning. Embracing natural beauty should only be applauded.
5. Michelle Obama: This First Lady did not have it easy. Let's begin by stating that she was the first African-American woman to become the First Lady. You may or may not know about all of the "issues" around the hair of African-American women. Therefore, sadly, Mrs. Obama had to come into "office" with a " hair plan"; a hair plan explicitly developed in the knowledge that African- American women with no straighteners are often looked down upon. After her years in office and rocking all kinds of hairstyles (sticking to her hair plan, of course), Mrs. Obama has become an advocate of "the Black Professional Women's Journey" and the discrimination around their hair type. She believes no one should be kept from advancing in a career because of how one's hair looks. Michelle is now often seen rocking her mane in the most beautiful natural way. As she always says, "When they go low, you go high! " Ladies, never feel ashamed to rock your hair in its natural state.
Hair in the White House is never just hair. It is a political construct with great meaning behind it (The Economist, 2020). The truth is I never get bored learning about hair. It has so much meaning, history, and symbolism. It is such a powerful tool in our daily lives, and the magic lies in the fact that we do not even realize it.
P.S: If you ever doubt the power hair has in our lives, just remember that the most powerful man in the free world (currently) has spent over $70,000 in hairstyling during several years (wink, wink). This should ring a bell.
- Isabella Rodriguez, CoFounder of The Lab Girl & Co.