French President Emmanuel Macron has raised eyebrows – and stoked the ire of the internet – with the revelation that his personal make-up bill for his first three months in office has totalled nearly $38,000.
It’s a princely sum, one must wonder, considering the make-up worn by the French leader isn’t even anything fun (contouring perhaps, or an elaborate smokey eye) but instead intended to make him look natural and presumably like he’s not wearing any make-up at all.
He does at least confirm one thing most women know to be true: looking “natural” and “effortless” (and I suppose handsome in a non-threatening way?) takes quite a bit of effort.
As Louise Linton, the wife of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin discovered this week when her vulgar Insta-bragging of her designer labels worn on government business was scathingly called into question, the “optics”, as they’re called in the political game, can rather quickly turn sour.
According to the President’s office, the cost escalated due to a “matter of urgency” (major breakout?) that required his make-up artist, a woman by the name of Natacha M., to bill the executive branch one time for €10,000 and then send in another bill for €16,000 since Macron’s inauguration. According to Slate his office has since responded, saying that the contractor “called in a contractor as a matter of urgency”, which was exxier than usual, and that his make-up budget will be “significantly reduced” in the future.
Pundits were not pleased with Macron’s bill. For one thing, the man is already quite handsome and thus one imagines in less in need of such stringent primping. Not to be unkind, but it is perhaps worth mentioning the equally astronomical hairdressing bill of the less conventionally handsome former French president Francois Hollande, which the London Telegraph reports totalled the $160,000. A decision that sparked cries of “shampoo socialism” against the man who promised to be a more normal president compared with his “extravagant” predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy.
So there’s that. And also the perhaps discomforting thought that men can be vain too and just like women, have their looks pull their credibility into question (who’d have thought it could happen to men as well, huh? Ask Hillary Clinton (and her scrunchie) what she thinks about that!.
But also, it’s a bit, well Marie Antoinette-ish, is it not?
Consider some of the reactions on social media accusing the centrist former investment banker President of neo-liberalism.
Breaking down the reactions it’s hard to say whether it’s the perceived waste (in straitened times), the perceived vanity or the indisputable fact that looks matter, in every arena, that riles.
As Amy Larocca wrote in a piece titled The Politics of Blondeness for New York Magazine of Trump’s White House.
“Then there are all the White House’s shades of blonde – the president likes men who look like generals and women who look like they all pledged the same sorority house.”
Trump himself has a signature shade of orange and unique coiffure.
In Australia there’s a little more leniency in the looks department. Even when Barnaby Joyce, not especially known for his handsomeness, posed for slick men’s magazine GQ recently he wore his signature Akubra hat (though that is still, it must be said, a deliberate aesthetic choice).
A spokesperson for the PM’s office said that Malcolm doesn’t have a make-up artist on staff. The only bit of slap he wears is for TV appearances, when every guest is made up by the studio.
Perhaps it’s also worth mentioning, as Slate notes, that Disney Prince Canadian PM Justin Trudeau only pays $40 a cut to have his lush locks trimmed.
So what price vanity? Perhaps in political terms – depending on who you are and what you stand for – quite a bit.