Don’t worry folks, I’m not defending her politics. I’m just defending her hair, on behalf of curly-haired women everywhere.
First let me establish my bona fides (if my photo on this blog hasn’t done so already): yes, I am a curly-haired woman. I’ve written about it, and I’ve been through every conceivable way of dealing with it. I don’t look good in straight hair (tried to iron it long ago, and blow dry it more recently). Straightening it is just not complimentary to my face or my hair, and it’s a royal pain in the butt, so I don’t do it.
But most curly-haired people can’t just let the hair go completely au naturale, or they get a huge frizzball. It needs to be coaxed—ideally, gently and without too much fuss—into showing off its natural curl in the best way possible. That usually involves a good haircut, a few products, and air-drying or drying with a diffuser. Not that terrible a process, really, although the drying can take time, and if the hair is especially curly the taming can be more difficult to accomplish. For all of us our sworn enemies are humidity, the brush, and too-frequent washing.
That said, Wasserman Schultz was dealt a particularly bad hand in that she’s got hair that’s both curly and thinnish, and she resides either in Florida or Washington DC, two of the frizz capitals of the world. She’s also Of A Certain Age (although it’s an age that sounds youngish to me), which means her hair isn’t getting any thicker with time.
Now at this point you might say, “Neo, I thought you said you were going to come to Wasserman Schultz’s defense.” But bear with me; all in good time.
Today I was reading Ann Althouse’s entertaining list of 10 things she might have live-blogged from last night’s SOTU speech, had she been live-blogging it (my hat is off to anyone who could watch that thing, much less watch it and make amusing comments about it), and I saw this:
“Shirley Temple is there,” I said, spotting Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and being unfair to Shirley Temple, whose ringlets — as I do an image search this morning — look artlessly subtle and not at all like Debbie’s headful of boing-y springs. Incredible what women can do to themselves and still be taken seriously…
Ah, but I’d wager that Wasserman Schultz hasn’t “done” very much to herself at all to get that headful of boing-y springs. She’s probably desperate for an “artlessly subtle” look, but that’s probably beyond her powers, or would take so much “doing” for her as to be all-consuming. She’s lucky if her hair doesn’t frizz up into a big puffball or frizz down into a limp and wan collection of wires.
As for Shirley Temple, who was indeed a cutie-pie, it was her hair that was the product of a great deal of work (in addition to having the glow of youth). Her “look” was – as Althouse suggests – “artlessly subtle,” but there was actually a great deal of art behind it:
Temple was undoubtedly a great actor for such a young child, but it didn’t hurt that she usually had a head full of perfect curls when she stepped in front of the camera. As you might expect, giving a preteen such a meticulous hairdo was no small task. Before she turned in for bed each night, her mother had to set her hair in 56 carefully planned curls.
Temple reportedly didn’t love the hairstyle; she preferred the shorter, tousled locks that her hero Amelia Earhart sported. Temple did, however, understand the value of her trademark look. In 1938 she visited the Roosevelts at their Hyde Park estate. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt asked the star to go swimming with her, but Temple declined “because of my hair.”
Here’s Temple in her heyday:
You all probably know what Wasserman Schultz looks like on a bad hair day, so I’ll spare you. I couldn’t find a still photo of her at the SOTU speech last night, but here’s a video clip. She’s in black at the right of the video, and then later towards the center and slightly in back, and I think her hair looks darn good, and although not “artlessly subtle” it’s actually going the way curly hair goes when you get a decent haircut, put just a couple of taming products on it, and dry it naturally:
And that’s probably the last nice thing I’ll ever say about Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
[ADDENDUM: And if you still want to read something about the actual SOTU speech rather than the travails of curly-haired women, here's a reflection on the reactions to the speech, more about the speech, and the Tea Party rebuttal by Utah Senator Mike Lee (sounds interesting).]