Home News The international language of (political) facial hair

The international language of (political) facial hair

Published on 24/10/2012

Facial hair is another thing that tends to be favoured by leaders of one-party states. Hitler is an obvious example, but also to be considered are Franco’s clipped, pedantic upper lip, Castro’s unkempt vagrant look, Saddam Hussein’s manly ‘tache, which was later transformed into the greying beard of his trial appearance, and, of course, the magnificent comedy barman stylings of Joseph Stalin (not that, say, James Finlayson ever ordered the mass killing of his own people – unless there’s a director’s cut of Way Out West that we haven’t seen yet).

But, with a few exceptions, for example, Hugo Chavez and his quasi-military look, the notion of individual style seems to be missing from today’s political arena. Politicians are forever being warned to look smart, say the right thing, and be mediasavvy. Largely they succeed, but in the process all meld together into one big gloopy mess.

No one these days wants to look or say something that might make them a target for the pundits; the fear of ridicule is as powerful as it ever was. It was Coco Chanel who said that fashions change but style remains. In politics, this seems not to be the case – unless we define style as the fear of standing out.


Cillian Donnelly / Together Magazine / Expatica

Reprinted with permission of Together Magazine.