On the second day of his brand-new (and ultimately short-lived) gig as White House communications director last July, Anthony Scaramucci appeared on CNN's State of the Union morning show, where he made a bizarre offhand comment (the first of many, it would turn out) addressing the state of newly-minted press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders' hair and makeup. "Sarah, if you're watching," he said to the camera, "I love the hair and makeup person that we had on Friday, so I'd like to continue to use the hair and makeup person."
Critics of the financier-turned-political dilettante interpreted the strange aside as a backhanded way of implying that Sanders's ability to perform her job well is affected by her physical appearance, which led Scaramucci to attempt to settle the debate in a tweet. "For the record, I was referring to my hair and make up and the fact that I like the make up artist," he wrote. "I need all the help I can get! #humor"
Nine days later, Scaramucci was out of a job — but that hair and makeup artist, on the other hand, landed herself a staff position in the White House. Politico reports that Katie Price, a professional stylist whose resume also includes stints at CNN and Russia Today, was added to government payroll as a production assistant after Scaramucci's departure, with the full-time job of keeping members of the administration camera-ready. Price works primarily with the communications team, including both Sanders and presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway, but she's the on-call artist for all officials with public-facing roles. She does not, however, work firsthand with any members of the Trump family; the first lady pays out of pocket for her own stylists.
Though the Obama administration did not count a makeup artist among its staff (female administration members who made frequent public appearances, like senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, paid out of pocket for hair and makeup expenses), Politico notes that the Trump White House is not the first to do so: The administration under George W. Bush had a similar team member in Lois Cassano, who was hired on the first day of the administration in 2001 to serve as the go-to for the press secretary, the president, the vice president, and the first lady, as well as visiting heads of state, Cabinet secretaries, and any other senior officials representing the administration on TV.
Still, it's hard not to make a connection between the addition of a full-time makeup artist to government staff and a presidency that has a reality-TV veteran obsessed with appearances at its helm. As Anita McBride, a former chief of staff to First Lady Laura Bush and a former director of White House personnel during the Reagan and H.W. Bush presidencies, told Politico, the Bush administration's appointment of an official White House makeup artist hinged on the necessity of such a position. "You have to ask if it’s a taxpayer-funded need, if it’s a legitimate function, and look at it through the lens of essential versus non-essential personnel," she said.
But McBride also reinforced her belief that, in today's day and age, a makeup artist is indeed essential. "When you have staff members starting the morning shows at 7 a.m. on camera, this has evolved to be a relevant function," she said. "I don’t envy anyone who has to be on camera there now. It is constant scrutiny." Ostensibly, Price could also be the person reportedly tasked with trying to get the president to sit still for five minutes while his hair dye develops — which isn't exactly a position we'd want to be in, either.