French President Emmanuel Macron's public image makeover to attract younger voters has turned heads around the globe, with his lumberjack-tier chest hair becoming a focal talking point at the late stage of the French election.
His official photographer has released some behind-the-scenes images including this one ahead of the second round of voting for the French election this week. The shots have now caused a stir amongst those more interested in bodily features than nuanced political debate.
Macron has been compared to actors Sean Connery, Burt Reynolds and even Tom Selleck for showing off his luxuriant chest hair.
The left-wing candidate also attracted attention last month when he released images of himself in a hoodie – similar to those released by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The Project Australia host Waleed Aly questioned whether there was more to the carefree shots than simple exposure, hinting Macron may have felt the need to look more manly up against right-wing opponent Marine Le Pen. Aly suggested Le Pen, who has hinted at a Frexit from the EU, had attracted a similar populist following reflective of Donald Trump in the US.
"I wonder if there's a serious aspect to it, though, because he is up against Marine Le Pen. Her appeal, he has to counter that," he said.
2GB radio host Ben Fordham also threw in his two cents, joking that there should be regulations around how many buttons constitutes actually being "dressed".
"Boy, does he have some chest hair. He looks a bit like Austin Powers. He is fighting to save his job, by the way. The polls suggest Macron will only just survive against Le Pen," he said.
"A bristling carpet of thick brown hair. The war chest. A Tom Selleck throwback special. And boy, did it get the people going. Some politicians call for a spin doctor, Macron called for the rug doctor. Diagnosis? A heavy dose of "he-vage" – male cleavage," the SMH reported.
Earlier this week, Macron accused election rival Le Pen of hatching a secret plan to drag France out of the EU.
The French President has cast this month's showdown as a Brexit-style referendum on his country's membership.
During a campaign visit today, Le Pen refused to rule out holding a public vote on France leaving the bloc.
"The French can reassess their presence on whichever international organisations they choose," she said.
"In the case of a referendum that is against the fundamental interests of the country, the president and the National Assembly can oppose it. But that is not the case with an exit from the EU."
Macron claims that "she wants to leave but does not dare say so", accusing her of "talking rubbish" about the EU.
At a rally in Strasbourg he said: "She says that she wants an alliance of nation states.
"But she is going to find herself in a corner and she is going to try to come up with an alliance with her friends.
"The EU has changed the life of this country. This election is a referendum on Europe."
Macron won 27.8 per cent of the vote in the first round of voting on Sunday, with Le Pen coming second on 23.2 per cent.
The pair will campaign for another two weeks, including a TV debate, before the run-off on April 24.
Recent polls show the sitting president is on course to win a second term although the gap is narrowing.
He is now leading Le Pen by 53 per cent to 47 per cent. A fortnight ago it was 55-45, and three weeks ago the gap was 58-42.