The Washington Post's Robin Givhan knows the real reason Michaele and Tareq Salahi got into the White House. "Call it tall, thin, white, blonde privilege," she writes.
Never mind the emails, the list, or whether there was an actual invitation. Givhan claims that the Salahis got into the state dinner because "they didn't look like interlopers, which is to say, they didn't look like poor cousins who had scraped together their last dime to buy some fancy frocks from the local thrift shop."
And, even more important, she asks:
The Salahis weren't on the guest list. But instead of turning them away, the Secret Service waved them in. Would they have been so gullible if it had been a young black man in a tuxedo or a short, squat, gray-haired woman in a modest black dress standing out there in the mist insisting that they were on the guest list? Maybe. But probably not.
It's hard not to agree: From fairy tales to Barbie to Marilyn Monroe to glossy ladymags, the high-fashion runways and flicks like Legally Blonde, the iconic blonde is the one who gets all the attention, who people want to be around, who gets what she wants. As Givhan puts it:
She is the archetype for so many of the cultural touchstones of male-female interactions. The damsel in distress is not typically depicted as a dark-haired, middle-aged woman, after all. The Bergdorf blonde — that high-maintenance prima donna — still wins the wealthy prince. Why? Because even with her demanding, narcissistic ways, she's still the epitome of the trophy wife. He who has her wins.
The sad part is that even though we have a black man in the office of Commander-In-Chief, what it means to "look" like a VIP party-goer hasn't updated; we're still judging books by their covers. The Secret Service isn't suspicious of a tall, well-coiffed blonde. And think about it: This concept ties in to skin-lighteners in India (one of the leading brands is called White Beauty) and recent experiments (based on Dr. Kenneth Clark's tests in the 1950s) in which little girls declare white baby dolls "good" and black baby dolls "bad." If the election of Barack Obama is progress, doesn't Michaele Salahi's party-crashing suggest this nation still has quite a ways to go?
Earlier: 'White Beauty' Has An Ugly Message
In India, Fair Is Handsome & Dark Is Doomed
September Glossies: Same Sh*t, Different Year
On The Runways Of Milan, Color Just Wasn't Considered Chic
Related: A Girl Like Me: A Short Film By Kiri Davis [Google Video]