Peter Bromhead: The grey matter of Romney's politics

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Cartoon / Peter Bromhead
Cartoon / Peter Bromhead

There is a misguided belief that because I draw editorial cartoons, I've had my finger firmly on the razzamatazz associated with the American elections this week.

As usual, however, I only study the most obscure minutiae of such events.

Asked who I favour, I usually mumble "Obama".

Asked why, my response is about trifles: "Well, unlike Romney, he doesn't appear to dye his hair."

Hardly a weighty policy matter, but in a campaign of vacuous generalisations and double-speak regurgitations, I find it difficult to believe in the sincerity of a person who blatantly fakes his personal appearance by habitually dipping his head in a bucket of dye.

Of course, in the US, where it is estimated that 75 per cent of women dye their hair, it could be argued that the practice of cosmetically concealing the ageing process is perceived as normal - like personal hygiene.

Oddly, many men are under the illusion that a little grey left exposed around the ears makes them appear more intellectually distinguished.

Local dye-pot fans will doubtless remind me that the practice of concealing one's natural hair colour is an ancient art, with hair-dyes originally obtained from plants such as henna and turmeric.

There have even been concoctions made from leeks, according to a 1661 book on the subject.

Today however, a wide range of sophisticated chemicals - with unpronounceable names like diaminotoluene - have replaced nature's offerings.

It's interesting how vanity outweighs health concerns with modern-day cosmetic chemicals.

Lead acetate, the active ingredient in many of the gradual hair-darkening products found on supermarket shelves, is highly toxic if ingested.

Strangely, nobody minds ingesting the stuff via their hair follicles.

There now appears to be evidence that women who began using hair dye before the 1980s have increased risks of being diagnosed with follicular lymphoma and other forms of leukaemia.

Even more alarming is the increased risk of bladder cancer among hairdressers and hair stylists, according to a 2008 report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which concluded that some of the chemicals used by these professions are carcinogenic to humans.

Anyhow, enough of this doom and gloom stuff - let's focus back on politicians, who, like film starlets, favour "hair colour enhancing". This brings us to our own Prime Minister.

Has anybody else noticed the distinguished, greying sideburn tufts - rather similar to Mitt's - he's sporting these days?

- NZ Herald

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