- The Washington Times - Friday, February 2, 2001

O blow dryer, where art thou?
The cry of the unkempt echoes across town, wafting into the Senate chambers where the loss of one of her White House perks has left former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton looking a bit less perky these days at least when it comes to her hair.
While she exuded a polished look during her Senate campaign, New York's junior senator has sent tabloids and tongues a-wagging of late with her sagging commitment to her image. Without the help of a 24-7 stylist, one of the world's most visible women is slogging it alone, displaying her own very public version of wash and wear that has some political observers shouting frump.
"There's no fingernail polish on the nails. There have been Senate sessions without even any lipstick. It's pushing it to the Janet Reno, Donna Shalala crowd," opines Internet scribe Matt Drudge, who weighed in on Mrs. Clinton's style crisis in a recent column.
"Even Patty Murray is more glamorous than Hillary," giggles Mr. Drudge, on the phone from his Miami newsroom. "It has Washington completely buzzing out."
The media are feasting, too.
Just as her husband is under assault for his 11th-hour pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich and a new Congress is in session, Mrs. Clinton has faced queries from reporters who are apologetic but nonetheless curious enough to ask her: What's up with the hair?
Both ABC News and Fox television have broadcast footage of a reporter politely taking Mrs. Clinton to task for her newly casual style. The exchange went like this:
"I'm sorry to ask such a shallow question, but I … but your appearance has changed a bit since you've taken office, specifically …" the reporter stammered uneasily to Mrs. Clinton.
"Are we going up or down, or are we staying … are we going from side to side, you know, I mean?" the senator stumbled back.
"Well, basically, you had a different look. I mean, it was more up and glamorous, and now it seems that you look more …" the reporter attempted to explain.
"So now it's more down and not glamorous?" asked Mrs. Clinton. "Oh, dear," she said.
The New York Daily News reported a similar exchange with a much more glib response:
"You know, sometimes depending upon the time that I have, it will look one way, and sometimes the other way. Got to keep you interested," Mrs. Clinton said. "I don't want to keep you bored."
Of course, with all the legislating, house-juggling, decorating and memoir-writing, Mrs. Clinton is no doubt up to her eyeballs in the details of her new life. Her Washington hairdresser defends her, discreetly describing Mrs. Clinton's deconstructed coif as "more natural."
The former first lady's hairstyle remains unchanged, said Isabelle Goetz, Mrs. Clinton's stylist at the tony Cristophe salon.
"It's the same haircut. It's just the hair was not blow-dried," said Miss Goetz, who confirms that she continues to style the senator's hair now that she has left the White House.
"I go when she calls me," said the hairdresser, who has worked at the upscale salon for six years. "She's a very busy person, and some days she has it more natural than other days."
Few would disagree that Mrs. Clinton came a long way appearancewise during her eight years as first lady, particularly for a woman who was more interested in policy than pouring tea. From the Junior Leaguer headbands of her husband's first campaign to her much-maligned inaugural hat, she started off badly, but recovered well with her no-frills black pantsuits and her latest short-and-sassy highlighted cut.
Now, as she rolls up her sleeves and gets down to policy, Mrs. Clinton backslides just as her political profile rises.
Mr. Drudge, of course, has no shortage of theories as to why. "I think she's all about business and it's not more glamour at all," he says. "It's off with the Cinderella gowns and on with the work pants.
"It also could be a delayed shock syndrome for everything we've been through as a nation over the past year."
The knocks about her locks have not escaped the notice of television comic Jay Leno, who weighed in on the latest Hillary gab earlier this week on his show.
"All of the New York papers are gossiping, gossiping, gossiping. That's the big thing now. They all say now that Hillary Clinton is a senator, maybe you know that she stopped wearing makeup and nail polish. She stopped having her hair done. She's also wearing less fashionable clothes. Isn't she worried maybe her husband might lose interest? Gee, I hope this doesn't give Bill a wandering eye."
On Capitol Hill yesterday, Mrs. Clinton's camp was taking all of the yammering over her appearance in good stride.
"We're here to talk about what's on her mind and not what's on her head," said spokesman Jim Kennedy.
Like many area professionals, Washington lawyer Shana Greatman reacted strongly to recent photographs of Mrs. Clinton and said she was surprised by the senator's new, minimalist approach to beauty.
"I really like her, but I hate her hair," said Miss Greatman, 25, a registered Democrat. "I think that it looks messy and unprofessional."
"All the other women in the Senate look better than her, which is scary because some of them are not the most attractive of our gender," said Miss Greatman, who unlike Mr. Drudge is not naming names.
The dowdy do, however, will not impair Mrs. Clinton's ability to be effective in the Senate, said Miss Greatman, but it does give style observers something "fun" to natter about.
"I just think it's bothersome that she doesn't take the time to take care of herself," said Miss Greatman, who adds that she is still a big Hillary fan.
"It shouldn't matter what someone's hair looks like, but unfortunately it does. [Mrs. Clinton] has enough people saying bad things about her. This is something she could fix easily and it would be one less thing for people to be mean to Hillary about."

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