When mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio released this campaign video starring his 15-year-old bi-racial son, Dante, many believed that Dante’s extra-large Afro would serve as a visible reminder to black voters that De Blasio had their interests at heart, particularly regarding stop-and-frisk policies. And lo, recent polling numbers show De Blasio now has an equal number of black supporters as the only African-American mayoral candidate, Bill Thompson, according to the Times. (Unfortunately for Thompson, his great Afro of yore, pictured here in his 1970 yearbook photo, is no more.)
The direct correlation between Dante’s Afro and polling numbers may never be known, but the visual statement of his hair is unprecedented in a world of balding male politicians. The same is not true for female candidates. It’s hard to find a single article about Christine Quinn in which her red hair goes unmentioned. Hillary Clinton’s coif was frequently discussed during her 2008 presidential bid (ugh, scrunchie jokes), and don’t even start with Sarah Palin’s highlights. Male politicians’ hair occasionally receives some scrutiny — remember Paul Ryan’s widow’s peak? — but never the limelight that Dante’s ’fro has drawn.
But perhaps since Dante is male (and only 15, and not actually running for office), he is free to revel in his hair’s glory. He recently gave an endearing interview about his styling routine, which includes a purple pick and free trims once a month. “Honestly, for years my hair was really just for me. I didn’t think people would love it so much,” he said. Which makes us love it all the more.