Rolling out the Red Carpet

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Monday, August 4, 2008

Snow on President's Roof

For all one knows, by dyeing his hair President Musharraf is trying to bring back the color of his youth and hair color is a very emotional aspect of appearance for him.

Does the color of the President’s hair matter? Yes it does. It’s a waste of time. He’s obviously got nation’s resources and too much time on his hands. We should be concerned with what is happening on top of his head and more so inside it. People can see why a male film star might dye his hair, but for the President it can be seen as frivolous. This is a distinctly grey area in the type of leadership he has preceded. But who believes in Shakespeare?

It's not just your hair to cover up the signs of aging, but your look, the wrinkles, the bags around the eyes—its the look of age and most importantly, it’s the office you occupy, Mr. President.

Even if the president has ‘almond eyes’ and flattering face, what function will they serve? Will they help him with Kashmir issue or his holy war against terrorism? No. Synthetic appearance doesn’t help in any way. Arbab Ghulam Rahim makes no doubt about this.

Hair is practically an obsession with journalists. They poked holes when Jimmy Carter started parting his hair on the opposite side; when people asked if Ronald Reagan used hair color; when Bill Clinton supposedly shut down LAX in order to get a haircut; the endless fuss over Hillary's ever-changing hairstyle; when John Kerry was accused of getting a $150 salon cut; when Gerhard Schroder went to court over reports that he used hair dye. They look at public leaders with microscopic eyes. Quite so, President Musharraf is being followed with the eyes. Dyeing is one of the most fun aspects of hairstyle, and it's one of the things people notice about others.

President Clinton may have troubles with his legacy, but it’s hard to fault his well-groomed head of gray hair that seems to be getting snowier by the minute. He was a very young president—46 years old—when he came to office. He wisely allowed his hair to grey, giving him a look of maturity. Of course, this is not to say President Clinton was not without his fair share of vanity. Civilian flights at Los Angeles’s busy airport were once famously halted as the world’s most powerful man had a $250-haircut aboard the parked-up aircraft.

While certain people are able to accept their greying head with equanimity and grace such as Bush’s mother, Barbara, there are people who proudly think of it as a sign of increasing wisdom. Still many people panic at the sight of that first white hair.

There is evidence that the use of commercial hair dyes can be hazardous to health. Data from the National Cancer Institute suggest that 20 percent of all cases among women of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the disease that killed Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis owing to overly use of hair dyes, are due to women’s regular use of commercial hair dye products.

The global beauty industry—consisting of skin care worth $24 billion; make-up, $18 billion; $38 billion of hair-care products; and $15 billion of perfumes—is growing at up to 7% a year, more than twice the rate of the developed world’s GDP.

Indubitably, president Musharraf doesn’t dye his hair to look more intelligent. Neither he’s trying to promote the idea of dark hair as a sign of a great world leader, nor to gain positive qualities. He’s using it as a symbol of youthfulness, no different than a star. Overtly and covertly, dyeing is an image of bad qualities. The stereotype is as complete as any stereotype ever was.

Hair dyeing is a waste of time. It comes to something when president dyes his hair by wasting enormous time as Chief of Army Staff and as President he is using nation’s time and money to do so.

His popping belly speaks of disrespect for fitness exercises—an unconformable requirement of a soldier, whose uniform is so dear to him. He should spend time on fitness exercises rather than lavishly devoting to periodic hair dyeing; think why Pakistan is in total mess; why the 140 million luckless poor beasts of burden don't have the money for one square meal a day and why are they carrying through suicides. He should veritably believe that his hair color is anything but as Mother Nature intended.

While taking Islamic perspective, hair greying is a natural process and hair dyeing is forbidden. “ … then after strength gave (you) weakness and gray hair.” (Sura Rum 30:54). This rudimentarily means that youth shrinks away to old age and gray hair. On the day of taking Makkah, Abu Bakr’s (raa) father, Abu Qahaafah was brought. His hair and beard were completely white. Muhammad (pbuh) said, “Change its color and stay away from black.” (Muslim, Nisaa’ee, Abu Daud and ibn Maajah). In another hadith Muhammad (pbuh) said, “There will come such nations in the end of time that will dye their hair black like the crop of pigeons. They will not even smell the fragrance of the Paradise.” (Abu Dawood, Nisaa’ee, ibn Hibbaan and Hakim and Imam Haakim).

My own experience is that going grey is a personal triumph. Aging brings along confidence; grey suits men; it makes them stand out instead of just blending in.

If the President cannot be honest about what is happening on his very own roof, there is no rational for us to trust him to be honest in running the country.

In the US, where sales of male hair dyes tripled during the 1990s, a business survey suggested that snow on the roof covered by dye makes one appear less capable, less energetic and even less broad-minded. What matters is that the more politicians dye their hair, the less democratic are the nations they govern. (