When senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway appeared on Fox News on Monday, she wasn’t wearing a face mask. This wasn’t surprising, given that members of the Trump administration have made a point of eschewing them since the start of the pandemic, despite the CDC’s recommendations. But her choice not to cover her face also revealed something new about her appearance — namely that she looked like a different person.
Her face was heavily made up, with contouring at her cheeks. The area under her eyes was smooth, her lips were full and glossy, and her blonde hair was fluffed and curled. Conway has altered her appearance for television before, but this instance was particularly dramatic. It seemed as though Fox had run Zoom’s “Touch Up My Appearance” filter on her about four times over. Radio host Stephanie Miller took notice on Twitter on Wednesday.
More surprising than Conway’s appearance, however, was her decision to make such a drastic change now, of all times, during a national pandemic and watershed civil-rights movement. Politicians get makeovers and work done all the time, and Conway’s appearance has been the subject of constant scrutiny since she joined Trump’s ranks. But in this moment, it’s dangerous for anyone to get a haircut, let alone a facelift. There’s also an expectation for leaders and their representatives to display a sense of respect and somberness in public. Conway was on Fox news in the first place to discuss President Trump’s approach to police reform.
It’s impossible to say how Conway altered her appearance — she did look less Facetuned on Fox today — but it’s also impossible not to notice. Perhaps that’s the point, though. She would surely say that her face is not the point and that talking about it is a distraction (not to mention rude). But there’s nothing more distracting than being presented with an unsettling change that you’re not supposed to notice.