Trump’s Perplexing Hair Explained: The Art of the Conceal

His elaborately styled concoction to conceal an underlying bald spot is an art -- and a metaphor for chronic dishonesty and deception.

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President Trump's hair: unnatural, irrational, sinister.

For a 71-year-old man to have a bald spot is no cause for shame. Why then does Donald Trump devote such care to fabricating his complicated pattern of waves and counter-waves to disguise an underlying hairless patch? Consider this: as he combs, so does he govern. Just as he camouflages the true state of his pate, he fabricates false “facts” that present a fictitious image of reality. When Trump recently bragged about his total unconcern for truth (calling America’s trade surplus with Canada a “deficit”), it occurred to me that The Hair is not just a ridiculous artifice but a metaphor for a pattern of dissimulation. Going to such elaborate lengths to cover up a bald spot suggests someone over-concerned with appearances, someone who denies reality and chronically conceals the truth.

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Trump’s patriotic “America First” style covers up his bald ambition to aggrandize “Me First.”

As perplexing as the tresses’ architecture may appear, it’s a critic’s duty to decode its meaning. I offer the following exegesis to unlock the secrets of his flaxen locks. The Trumpian Hairdo, I maintain, is a multi-layered symbol that both reveals and conceals Our Leader’s character.

Let’s first be generous. We can look at The Hair as a lifestyle choice — even as an aesthetic statement. Hairdressing, after all, is an art — an applied art, to be sure, but an art. Perhaps no one in public life has created such an elaborately wrought hairdo as our current president. So let’s consider the virtues of what we might call The Golden Nimbus. Some may posit it serves to distract from allegedly small hands. Yet whatever the golden crown covers up (thin thinking? id-obsessed brain? Russian ties?), all must acknowledge the pouf as a masterpiece of tonsorial engineering. Kudos for our Builder-in-Chief!

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Here’s another item on the plus side of the ledger. For those who criticize the Prez for monetizing his real estate empire while in office, one striking example of reserve is evident. Think how many millions he could pocket by endorsing his hairspray of choice. Yet — although ostensibly committed to transparency — he keeps the solidifying elixir a secret, despite its miraculous ability to stiffen the swept-forward mane. Without a doubt, hairspray sales would be exponentially higher than for Trump Vodka or Trump Steaks. The ad campaign alone could be a tour de force of memorable rhymes. Imagine the branding possibilities: “The Trump Pump, a No-Clump, Never-Slump Hairspray/Not for Chumps, Frumps or Grumps!”

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Perhaps The Hairdo pays homage to the Statue of Liberty’s torch.

Admittedly, some may scoff that his amber waves are abetted by extensions, skull surgery, or Propecia. These naysayers may call “the ‘do” a sign of vanity, indicating extreme narcissism. Skeptics, consider this: perhaps The Hair has become a sly logo. Its style could allude to the flaming Torch held by our sacred Statue of Liberty. Or, The Hair could symbolize a bleached KKK hood. Most likely, in its marbleized inflexibility, it conjures his personal brand, a wall to repel invaders (except if they’re towheads hailing from Norway).

Or maybe it suggests a Biblical analogy, a plot-point dear to the heart of his evangelical base. Given speculation about The Donald’s propensity to serial fornication, might we see a replay of the Samson and Delilah story? If the horizontal haystack projecting over his forehead is the source of his virility, might Melania — wearing a stylish “I’m with Stupid” t-shirt — hack it off to render him impotent? Celibacy, we know, is the Pro-Life faction’s preferred means of birth control for randy youth, so why not have our Commander in Chief, shorn of his pompadour, as a role model of abstention? (Equally hair-raising is Trump’s belief, confided to Stormy Daniels during their alleged assignation, that “if he cut off his hair or changed it, that he would lose his power and his wealth.”)

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Undeniably, The Hair represents a hidden vulnerability, which perhaps explains Our Hero’s denial of extreme weather events linked to global warming. A former draft dodger, he’s now adept at dodging drafts of actual wind that would surely expose his underlying paucity of roots. Hence, the ubiquitous red hat to circumvent pesky hairdo malfunctions when exiting the presidential ‘copter.

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“Flag I,” 1973 by Jasper Johns, collection of Robert and Jane Meyerhoff. Johns first won fame with his encaustic paintings of the American flag.

This analysis solves the lingering mystery of “cofeve.” It was obviously a late-night attempt to spell “coiffure.” It’s possible that Our Leader — an ardent proponent of the arts even though gutting the NEA and NEH is a lamentable necessity so that corporations can reap greater profits — is actually a performance artist. The side-swept dynamism of his baffling hairstyle could allude to Hermes’ winged helmet. The Hair’s skull-swathing quality certainly bests Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who merely wrapped islands and buildings like the Reichstag. Patriots can see allusions to Davy Crockett’s coonskin cap sitting proudly atop that noble head. In another nod to art history, The Hairdo’s complex weaves and interstices rival M.C. Escher’s tortuous drawings. For those seeking a more contemporary analogy, the delicate meshwork resembles a Jasper Johns cross-hatch painting. Remember, the early work of Jasper Johns is associated with American-flag paintings — America First!

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We formerly knew Donald Dotard as a reality star, dispensing judgment to apprentices afflicted with bald ambition. He became famous for dismissing losers with the words “You’re fired!” Now our “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” promoter wants to cover up that nasty persona, changing his mantra to the loser-embracing “You’re Hired.” Yet one can’t ignore the image of the most noticeable cover-up atop our Chief Tweeter’s head. What does it hide? Towering egotism and ignorance? One can’t comb over climate change.

Dodging drafts of wind that disrupt the delicately woven hairstyle is a priority.

The Donald, born with a golden spoon in his mouth and a golden pouf atop his head, might do well to heed F. Scott Fitzgerald’s admonition at the outset of The Great Gatsby (quoting Shakespeare): “Golden lads and girls all must/ As chimney sweepers, come to dust.” With 2018 midterm elections looming and voters’ patience with an incompetent, impulsive button-pusher waning, the Prez may be fearing the prophecy of “Hair today, gone tomorrow.” One suggestion in harmony with his Know-Nothing approach to governing: he could adopt a slogan to advertise how “like, really smart” this “very stable genius” is. How about “Make America Fluffy Again”?

In sum, The Hairdo may seem a trivial affectation, but I maintain it points to a significant flaw. Our President (and Republicans who abet him) has not just a bald spot but a blind spot. Just as he conceals the reality of his cranium, he hides his ignorance of statecraft and the Constitution — not to mention flaunting his dishonesty. Trump’s reflexive tendency to lie, to name-call like a schoolyard bully and to refashion both his hair and the truth into a simulacrum considered more flattering indicates a man both deeply insecure and mendacious.

President Trump may once have been a reality star, but as a politician, he’s a star example of rejecting reality.

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Carol Strickland
Carol Strickland has written six books on art, architecture and literature, including the popular introduction to art history (a third, expanded edition available in January 2018), The Annotated Mona Lisa: A Crash Course in Art History from Prehistoric to the Present. Another book, The Annotated Arch, sold out its first edition and will be released in February 2018 by Echo Point Books as The Annotated Flying Buttress: A Crash Course in the History of Architecture. Her enhanced eBooks, released by Erudition Digital, are Impressionism: A Legacy of Light and The Eagle and the Swan, a historical novel portraying the life of Empress Theodora in sixth-century Constantinople. The novel will also be published in print by Echo Point in 2018. Strickland has a Ph.D. in American literature and, as a cultural journalist, has contributed feature stories on the arts to The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Art in America and MOMUS.