The Making Up of a President … and His Staff


Laurie and Debbie say:

Makeup may seem like an odd topic for a blog with its roots (and its heart) in body image. However, makeup is a form of body expression–although mediated in many ways by looksism and beauty culture–and people are entitled to their own choices around body expression. Makeup is also commonly used by many people who spend a lot of time in the public eye, and especially people who are frequently televised.

Makeup is also one of the places where our body image interests and our revulsion at the current D.C. power structure intersect.  So we are interested in Sarah Graalman’s “Makeup Anxiety During the Trump Times” post on Medium.

Graalman writes primarily about makeup issues with Trump himself,

Trump is orange and his hair is famously peroxide blonde. He rocks a fake-tan like a star from the 80’s who can’t let that go. Have you ever really looked at the whites around his eyes? Chances are those lighter patches are the result of tanning bed goggles. We have a bronzer addict running the country, and I have very strong opinions about bronzer addicts. I’ve rarely ever met one who doesn’t have a disjointed view of who they are or nurse a strange self-image. Sometimes that self-image is inflated. … He likely reached his physical and sexual (sorry) prime in the 80’s, and though his power has skyrocketed to his being the most powerful man in America. It seems he is still chasing the dragon of his 80’s Trump facade. Why else would he still emulate that 80’s bronze glow?

It’s not news to anyone that Trump’s self-image is inflated and that he’s stuck in an earlier era. Still, it’s informative that he’s apparently a make-up “type,” and Graalman could figure out these things about him without other information.

While Graalman is clearly prepared to dislike and distrust Trump, she saves her detailed makeup analysis for Kellyanne Conway. No surprise, she goes into a lot more detail about Conway, and shows more than a touch of sexism in her assumptions that Conway (1) does her own makeup, and (2) isn’t good at it. However, anyone who sees Conway on TV knows that something is wrong, and Graalman helps analyze the problems:

When someone of significant stature appears on a network, that network supplies an artist, or they will pay for the cost of one. I’m occasionally that artist in the wings at CNN with a personality on a publicity tour. Sometimes I show up to studios, and they have ANOTHER artist there on staff, just in case. It seems rare that any artist is doing the work. Yes, I’ve found a few instances where Conway is done and it looks fabulous. She isn’t obligated to look ‘done’ if that isn’t how she wants to be seen. But she’s putting on a lot, so she’s trying. She’s rejecting the use of a professional makeup artist.

Kellyanne Conway and even *sigh* Donald Trump have an inalienable right to look how they want to look, and to present themselves to the public in whatever way suits them. If Conway thinks she looks terrific, and we think she looks like she’s about to star in Night of the Living Dead, she gets to be the judge.

But maybe, just maybe, Trump’s attitude toward makeup and how he looks, and Conway’s style in presenting Trump’s choices, are emblematic of how the administration is “running” the country. Here’s Graalman’s conclusion.

They’re on our TV constantly. They are running our country. I’d love to give them some HD powder and proper concealer. If only they trusted the experts.

IF ONLY THEY TRUSTED THE EXPERTS. It’s not just about makeup any more.