Mark Zuckerberg’s many hours of testimony before members of the U.S. Senate and House touched on a boatload of serious issues about Facebook, from its mishandling of personal data to allowing the spread of misinformation by foreign agents. But many people watching the CEO’s exhaustive grilling had reactions to issues of a more … benign nature.
Zuckerberg’s haircut, for example. And his taste in suits. And his height.
A story in the Federalist called out the billionaire’s “really disturbing hairstyle” and suggested that it may have come about from “a lawnmower.”
Others called out various facets of his appearance on Twitter:
That is a 900-year-old porcelain Song dynasty bowl haircut.
— Dennis Miller (@DennisDMZ) April 10, 2018
I can’t decide whether I hugely admire or am intensely irritated by the fact that Mark #Zuckerberg is a multi-billionaire yet appears to cut his own hair and doesn’t own even one half decent suit, shirt or tie. pic.twitter.com/hdV6fDAliO
— Julia Hartley-Brewer (@JuliaHB1) April 10, 2018
Lol Zuck’s hair needs some product or something. It looks like it’s one of those lego hair pieces you snap on the lego heads. #Zuckerberg
— Alyssa Cowan (@alyssapants) April 11, 2018
when u drink 2 glasses of red wine while watching Amelie and decide to cut your own bangs pic.twitter.com/EPYHtZn3QI
— Dana Schwartz (@DanaSchwartzzz) April 10, 2018
— Brandon Saario for CA State Senate District 18 (@SaarioBrandon) April 11, 2018
But one heartening aspect of people’s focus on the trivial was this: At least a man was being subjected to the same detailed scrutiny that’s routine for high-profile women.
In just the past week, for example, we’ve seen reports of Lisa Rinna being berated for posting a makeup-free selfie, Halsey being shamed for having armpit hair, and Kim Kardashian posting fit bikini vacation pics in direct response to last year’s body shamers. Examples of other high-profile power women being judged on their appearance — from Mika Brzezinski and Carly Fiorina to Katie Couric and former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer — are plentiful.
It’s particularly true when it comes to women in politics, with endless commentary on Hillary Clinton’s hair, Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s “schoolmarm” look, Kellyanne Conway’s makeup and outfits, and the high style of both Michelle Obama and Melania Trump.
Studies back up what most of us have figured out on our own: Female politicians have a better shot at winning if they are thin, and also if they look feminine. A recent survey by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, across 36 countries, found that “more than 80 per cent of female parliamentarians had been subjected to psychological violence through ‘misogynist remarks, humiliating images, mobbing, intimidation and threats.’”
Another recent report, GQ UK noted, found that “Theresa May gets three times as many comments on her appearance as [Labor Party leader] Jeremy Corbyn.” Indeed, May’s wearing of a Frida Kahlo bracelet in 2017 spawned at least a dozen articles, as has her frequent choice to wear kitten heels.
That finding about how looking feminine wins you more approval is something another powerful Facebook person appears to be familiar with. “I couldn’t help but marvel at the fact that while Zuckerberg slomps around in super-casual clothes every day,” noted a recent HuffPost piece about the high heels frequently worn by COO Sheryl Sandberg, “Sandberg is smartly decked out in full corporate power garb: towering, patent leather, red peep-toe heels.”
As for Zuckerberg, he apparently knows, as a man, precisely when it’s necessary to embrace a corporate look. And one of those very rare times has been this week.
“It said to suspicious, establishment lawmakers: I am in your house, I will accept your rules,” noted New York Times style writer Vanessa Friedman. “It said, O.K., maybe we in Silicon Valley really don’t know best. It said: I acknowledge the responsibility I bear and take this seriously. It acceded to the general interpretation that this was a growing-up moment, because in the iconography of clothing, the suit is the costume of the grown-up, while the T-shirt is the costume of the teenager, the off-duty, the breaker of rules.”
As for the establishment haircut? Maybe next time.
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