This week I have read approximately a zillion articles about hair. In itself this isn’t unusual – I work in beauty – but rather than them being about the latest volume-giving shampoo or home colouring craze, as is my usual fodder, they have been about one specific thing. One specific style. One specific length. Of course, I’m talking “pobs”. And not Victoria Beckham’s graduated Posh Spice bob – but rather the Political Bob as worn by Hillary Clinton.
Clinton, who was formally nominated as US presidential candidate on Tuesday, is no stranger to having her hairstyle analysed. Earlier in her career her penchant for Alice bands was brought into question, as was her love of a hair scrunchie. She famously joked that her 2014 memoir should have been entitled “The Scrunchie Chronicles: 112 countries and it’s still all about the hair.” But it is her most recent hair style – her pob – that appears to have really caught our attention. That and her trousers suits of course, which FYI, American Vogue editor Anna Wintour is advising her on.
And it’s not just Hillary – oh no the pob is infectious. Take a look at our current prime minister, Theresa May and what sits atop her head? A pob. Ditto Angela Merkel and Nicola Sturgeon. In fact the pob can be traced back to Margaret Thatcher. The pob has a history. And this appears to be the fascinating thing about it. All top female politicians – past and present– have the same short haircut, ergo it must, must, hold some sort of follically-charged power.
So what’s the pob’s secret? Pray tell.
Well, firstly it says dependable. It says that the owner of a pob doesn’t have time to faff with curling tongs and hair serum – pah! She is not as shallow as that. She has better things to do, like run a country. Wholly ironic as anyone who has ever had any semblance of a bob will know that it requires regular trims at the hairdressers and several minutes in front of the mirror every morning trying to get it to lie flat. It is far quicker to scrap longish hair back into a ponytail or a bun.
And this appears to be the fascinating thing about it. All top female politicians – past and present– have the same short haircut, ergo it must, must, hold some sort of folically-charged power
Secondly, it’s tough nut. Quite literally a helmet of hair on your head, the pob is a battle dress. It’s sharp, set solid with several layers of hairspray and it's immovable. No gust of wind or barrage of Trump’s hot air is going to shift this bad boy. The lady’s not for turning? Nor is her hair.
Thirdly, and I’d argue most importantly, the pob is not feminine. And here I’m afraid lies the crux of the matter. Femininity and power just don’t work (according to the media anyway). Just like a cleavage-revealing dress or a pair of leopard print kitten heels only serve to undermine a female politician’s authority, so does long hair. Long hair is swishy, sexy, playful –everything that a woman in power is not supposed to be. Remember the shit that Sarah Palin got for her hair? Apparently too much a reminder of her beauty pageant days. I mean, what if she turned the next NATO summit into a swimwear contest, huh? What then?!
As The Times points out the pob is a non-style. When talking to The New York magazine, Clinton’s hairdresser Isabelle Goetz said, “I want to make sure her hair is never an issue.” Never an issue. Not a thing. Unassuming, hidden, sexless, denied. The pob is the inverse of Samson and his flowing locks of strength. Thou must chop it all off you are to be considered a contender. We are in the clutches of Delilah.
Thirdly, and I’d argue most importantly, the pob is not feminine. And here I’m afraid lies the crux of the matter. Femininity and power just don’t work
The pob has been described at the ultimate power play, but of course, deep down, we know that this isn’t the case. A women’s (or man’s) length of hair has no impact on their intelligence, integrity, honesty, diplomacy, strength or capability – all qualities that (we hope) a world leader possesses. Hairstyles, hemlines and heel heights does not maketh the woman and to seriously imply otherwise feels antiquated. When a woman can exist in a position of power without having to morph into the most masculine (but god forbid not frumpy) version of herself, THAT will be the ultimate power play.
Until then I suggest that we do away with the short hair/long hair tosh, leave Hillary to go about her business trouncing Trump and enjoy my list of genuinely kick-ass non-pobbed women.
Mother of dragons, claimant to the Iron Throne, possessor of excellent going-out-tops.
Fashion influencer, image maker, trend setter.
World number 1 tennis player, 22 time Grand Slam winner, highest paid female athlete in 2016.
Warrior princess of the Amazons, founding member of Justice League, had indestructible bracelets and lasso of truth.