If you're a politically-minded, beauty-obsessed individual, we might have just discovered your dream job. Evidently, the title of full-time White House Makeup Artist is an actual thing, so if you automatically associate the word "wing" with both "West" and "eyeliner," this might be the role for you. What a time to be alive!
Remember Anthony Scaramucci, aka the Mooch? He was brought on by the Trump administration to serve as the White House Communications Director in July of last year, only to last 10 very short (but very entertaining) days. Yeah, that guy. We have more to thank him for than making the nightly news so g-dang entertaining via air kisses and quippy comments during his short tenure. Katie Price, the White House makeup artist currently responsible for Sarah Huckabee Sanders' Southern belle ringlets and Kellyanne Conway's infamous black eyeliner, was hired while the Mooch was still part of team Trump, and we're pretty positive he himself is to thank.
On his second day on the job, Scaramucci appeared on CNN's "State of the Union" with Jake Tapper. After praising the then-newly hired Huckabee Sanders throughout the interview, he finished off by saying, “Sarah, if you're watching, I love the hair and makeup person that we had on Friday, so I'd like to continue to use the hair and makeup person.” Oh, Mooch! You were so bad at your job, but so good at bringing some Goodfellas-style entertainment to otherwise very sad and depressing news segments!
Lo and behold, Katie Price was hired shortly after, becoming the second makeup artist to ever be hired full-time by an administration. (The first was Lois Cassano, who was hired during the Bush administration; the Obama administration did not have a makeup artist on staff). In Price's role, she's responsible for getting prominent women (including Huckabee Sanders, Conway, and Mercedes Schlapp) camera-ready, and she also applies pancake makeup for men in similarly visible roles (think Raj Shah and Hogan Gidley). However, Price does not touch Melania Trump's face; the First Lady has her own makeup artist, whom she pays out of pocket.
Which brings us to the fact that yes, we as taxpaying Americans, are supplying Price's salary. Although the amount she makes per year has not yet been disclosed, by law, it will will be eventually. How exciting!
If you're thinking, "What the actual F, Trump cut the Environmental Protection Agency's budget but hired a makeup artist?!" I feel you. It seems absurd that someone tasked with beautifying White Wing staff members would keep their job while countless others who were working on serious issues and trying to improve the USA as a country would be let go. But after thinking about the role that beauty or appearance has played in politics historically, I can kinda, sorta, maybe understand the reasoning for it. (Kinda.)
As reported by Vanity Fair, aesthetics have played a crucial role in politics for decades.
Historians will point to John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon’s 1960 debate as an early example of television, the influential image conductor—and makeup’s role in creating or destroying that image. Nixon wore the wrong makeup, sweated it off, and lost the debate to the tan, heathy-looking Kennedy, according to viewers at home (radio listeners—the control group—called the debate a draw).
While we'd like to think that visual bias hasn't played a role in politics in the past, it absolutely has. And when women are involved, that visual bias holds a vast amount of power, much of it unfair. Yes, I'm going to briefly go back to the most recent presidential campaign, but bear with me. I simply want to point out that Hillary Clinton's appearance — from her hair to her makeup to her clothing — was judged way more harshly than Donald Trump's simply because she's a woman.
I'm not saying Trump's skin tone and hair weren't at the center of many less-than-kind articles. There was plenty of (IMO, excellent) content about the way he looked, too. But it's undeniable that because Trump is a man, the way he looked mattered overwhelmingly less in the eyes of many voters. "Imagine any qualified woman making it even half as far looking so outrageous. For powerful women — especially women in politics — there’s a societal imperative to have to think about our appearance and shape it so that people will actually listen to our words," Beautycon Media CEO Moj Mahdara wrote in an issue of Teen Vogue. According to her book, What Happened, Clinton spent a whopping 600 hours in hair and makeup throughout her campaign. "I was so shocked, I checked the math twice," she wrote.
Which brings me back to Katie Price and why I can understand her hiring, even if only marginally. The Trump administration does have many women at its forefront who are incredibly visible and appear in the media every day. They, too, are constantly judged on their appearance and torn apart if they have an outfit faux pas or a makeup mishap, despite the fact that it has nothing to do with how well they can do their job. The current reality is that for female politicians, makeup is a strategy.