The first thing that everybody notices about Rebekah Brooks is her red hair. It's red, and it's curly. Brooks almost always wears it down and she's probably fielded jeers about it her whole life. Despite the already endless list of clichés and catchy headlines that already highlight Brooks's hair, The Daily Beast's Robin Givhan today devotes nearly a thousand words to searching for meaning in the curls. (There's also a helpful slideshow of powerful women with red hair.) The Pulitzer-prize winning fashion critic seems straight-forward enough at first:
Brooks arrived for her questioning dressed soberly in navy with a demure little heart-shaped charm dangling from a necklace. Her hair hung thick and loose below her shoulders like a dense tangle of vines. It was free and unruly; it was hair that had been released from any need to be controlled and tidy.
As she's famous for doing, Givhan inevitably and provocatively turns Brooks's fashion statement into a much broader statement about power. It's kind of like the time she framed Dick Cheney's choice to wear a parka, "the kind of attire one typically wears to operate a snow blower," at an Auschwitz memorial ceremony as an expression of his selfishness. (She included that article in her Pulitzer portfolio by the way.) Givhan's take on the non-ponytailed red hair is similar:
Brooks’s hair was a distraction because it was a ballsy rebuke of our expectations governing how people on the defensive are supposed to tread. There was no suggestion of humility, timidity, or caution. There was no attempt to disappear into doleful anonymity.
That was look-at-me hair--stare at me, remember me. Me, me, me.
Speaking of analogies, we counted at least five ways besides "look-at-me hair" that Givhan manipulated metaphors to reference Brooks's hair: "a wild mane of wavy auburn hair," "a dense tangle of vines," "the familiar red cloud," "that flaming hair," and "a spray of self-conscious indifference."
British journalists have been conjuring up ways to reference Brooks's hair for years. However, even they seem a little bored of the red-hair angle. "Thousands of words have been written about her hair, her charm and her husbands. But the key to her extraordinary rise and devastating fall is none of these things," wrote Janine Gibson for The Guardian last Friday. Gibson adds that many of the jabs at Brooks's hair amount to "attempts to dismiss her by reducing her to ambitious woman cliches."