Rebekah Brooks' Hair Isn't a Covert Personality Indicator    

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
July 20 2011 2:59 PM

Rebekah Brooks' Hair Isn't a Covert Personality Indicator    

In her column today, the Daily Beast’s Robin Givhan, reproves Rebekah Brooks’ choice to wear her red mane in its naturally curly state to yesterday’s Parliament hearing on the News of the World phone-hacking scandal:

Brooks’s hair was a distraction because it was a ballsy rebuke of our expectations governing how people on the defensive are supposed to tread. … There was no suggestion of humility, timidity, or caution. There was no attempt to disappear into doleful anonymity. That was look-at-me hair—stare at me, remember me. Me, me, me.
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Click here to see a gallery of Rebekah Brooks' hair.

Givhan’s bottom line: Brooks’ choice to wear her hair in its signature style was irresponsible and tactless. “... while her clothes said serious business, her hair said, 'I’m here for the Tuck & Patti concert,' ” Givhan writes. But did it, really? Brooks’ hair looked the same as it always does.

Wouldn’t it be more telling of Brooks’ character if she had straightened her locks? If she attempted to conceal her suspected involvement in the scandal with some fake, glossy façade? That, to me, would’ve been the more cowardly, unctuous move. A move that might deserve some commentary. If anything, Brooks’ choice to maintain her normal ‘do eliminated the potential for superficial distraction.

Givhan assumes that Brooks’ choice was an attempt to channel latent personality traits through her curls. Her flaming hair reflected egotism and a reckless disregard for cultural rules, she writes.  This feels like a huge stretch. Even she admits the argument is tenuous: “It’s always risky to attach politics, social status, or cultural affinity to a hairstyle—to endow it with too much meaning,” she admits at the beginning. Yeah? So don’t do it.

Elizabeth Weingarten is the associate editor at New America and the associate director of its Global Gender Parity Initiative.

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