Huffman, who has been accused of paying $15,000 to have her daughter's SAT answers changed to get a better score, arrived at the U.S. Courthouse in Los Angeles with her hair pulled back into a frazzled, low ponytail with dark roots. That was a mistake, according to image consultant Amanda Sanders. "I think she first showed up and it was incredibly intentional to look pitiful, and to not look like a Hollywood star," Sanders tells Refinery29. "But it was also not smart."
And so, as Sanders expected, when Huffman entered the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in Boston, Massachusetts on Wednesday to defend herself against charges like conspiring to commit mail fraud, she did it with an entirely new look.
Glasses and athleisure aside, what most obviously changed between these two appearances is Huffman's hair, which appeared glossy, blow-dried straight, a touch shorter, and significantly blonder, with no roots to be found. All that sends a message, according to Sanders, who's worked with multiple clients who are going into court.
"They have attorneys that work with image consultants," Sanders says. "I definitely think that she wanted to get a bit more respect, and the way you do that is by dressing better. For the hair, it's the blonder, the lighter — the softer, the more angelic."
In her book On Blondes, Joanna Pitman explains how blondes have long been associated with ditziness and sensuality, but also innocence, which is the vibe that Huffman is likely going for here. In many Grimm fairytales, for example, you'll find heroines whose golden hair signals "youth, innocence, purity, and cleanliness," Pitman writes. And in literature, from Dickens to Lewis Carroll, blondness always hinted at both purity and innocence, according to The New York Times. That could also explain why Cardi B, Blac Chyna, and other stars have all decided to go full-on Marilyn before their most recent court appearance, too.
Whatever reason Huffman had for the change, what her mini makeover did accomplish is making her appear more polished, which matters in a courthouse. "She's an actress, so she can really understand dressing the part that she's now playing, which is a mom having to defend herself," says Sanders. "Overall, it makes it look like she's respecting the court — and the court of public opinion — and she's dressing for it."