Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Chinese View on America's Hoary President

The beginning of Barack Obama's second term is newsworthy in many regions around the world. But I wonder if anyone captured it quite like Chen Zhi did for Xinhua (H/T Aaron Black). The title for the article almost says it all: "Barack Obama -- from handsome young to hoary old". And the article's beginning holds true to the title's theme:
Barack Obama, a personable middle-aged man, inaugurated as the first African-American president of the United States four years ago with an ambitious oath -- "Yes, we can."

However, when Obama swore in for a second term as the country's top leader on Monday, a man with eyebags, black spots and white hair stepped on the stage.
Chen's focus on (and description of) Obama's appearance raises two issues (among many others):
  • It isn't clear whether or not the change in a US president's visual appearance over the period of time during their term would have been any different if had they not been president.
  • One study found that being president had no impact on life expectancy: something one wouldn't expect to find if there was such a thing as "presidential aging".

For more on these two points, see a post on the Harvard Health Blog.

If you think Obama could make a rebound in his second term, Chen tempers such hope by closing the article with:
Whether the next four years could be easier for him remains a mystery, but it is for sure that Obama, buried in unstopping affairs at home and abroad, could never be any younger.
I suppose it is hard to argue with that point. Though, I am surprised Chen didn't conclude with a pitch for Just For Men.

On that note, for more insights about why Chen might be so concerned about Obama's hoary hair, it might not hurt to read Jason Leow's article on The Wall Street Journal: "Chinese Bigwigs Are Quick to Reach For the Hair Color".

UPDATE: Michele Obama may not have liked it, but how would have Chen's story differed if Obama had gone with this look?

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