France’s socialist president Francois Hollande is in a bit of trouble over recently confirmed reports that he spends 10,000 euros a month on hair care. The issue, now mockingly dubbed “CoiffeurGate” online, has grabbed so much attention that Hollande was forced to defend himself during a televised interview. The AP reports Hollande’s critics find his excessive spending more than a little at odds with his claims to be a regular guy (“Monsieur Normal”) who dislikes the wealthy:
Critics expressed surprise that a leader whose hair is thinning could spend so much per month preening, when a posh men’s haircut in Paris costs about 50 euros ($56). There was no suggestion that the money was being used for hair plugs or other surgical hair costs.
Detractors noted that Hollande was elected because comments such as “I do not like the rich” marked a strong contrast with the bling-bling image of his conservative predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, who loved flashy jewelry and fancy restaurants.
French media calculated that Hollande’s monthly hair maintenance is nearly four times that of an average French worker’s salary.
Again, here is what $11,000 a month in hair care looks like. His barber must be charging by the strand:
— BBC World Business (@BBCWorldBiz) July 14, 2016
Naturally, this story has led to mockery of Hollande’s hair online:
— The Independent (@Independent) July 13, 2016
Meanwhile, the NY Times says CoiffeurGate is a win for women in general and Hillary Clinton in particular:
She has joked about it, saying when her book “Hard Choices” was published in 2014 that her favorite suggested title was “The Scrunchie Chronicles: 112 Countries and It’s Still All About My Hair.” But either way, she has acknowledged it is an issue impossible to ignore.
Now, if anyone asks about it, she can simply shrug, and say: Well, at least I’m not costing any taxpayers thousands of dollars a month like the leader of France.
The real underlying issue here, and there is one, is getting a political comb-over by the NY Times. In fact, this is really a dog bites man story, i.e. leading socialists spends lavishly on himself. Still, it’s a reminder that many of the people vocally promoting égalité in public life often don’t act as if they believe it when they think no one will notice.