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HELSTON: Hair, politics, and why things aren't always as they seem

Charlotte Helston is the Vernon reporter for InfoNews.
July 17, 2015 - 12:00 PM

This week while getting my hair cut, the stylist sheared off the curtains on something I didn’t know and had been incorrectly assuming for years.

The revelation was this: Those celebrities showing off flawless braids and buns at ritzy award shows? Well, a lot of that hair just isn’t real. Many of the looks are enhanced with clip on hair pieces, my hairdresser revealed.

Adorning oneself with an item to project a certain image is something that sounded familiar. I began to think about how politicians wear slogans to sculpt images of themselves, and wondered, how much of that stuff is real, and how much is fake?

Of course, everyone, including politicians have their bad hair days, as we saw this week when a Vancouver MP took out an ad in a First Nations newspaper congratulating aboriginal grads for sobriety. The ad, which drew the ire of many for its perceived reference to alcohol abuse among First Nations, was tweeted by an NDP candidate in the North Okanagan and generated a storm of angry comments. By the time it hit Twitter, it was far too late for a makeover and time for an explanation.

The ad was obviously intended to bolster Joyce Murray’s image as an MP who cares about aboriginal issues, but the message was more frizz than smooth PR. The newspaper says the ad was their fault, having been drawn up by a salesperson and never even proofed by Murray. How it got through the art department remains a mystery. For her part, Murray says she never saw or approved the content.

So, if we are to believe it was all just a great big misunderstanding, we can probably stop calling Murray a bunch of names she doesn’t really deserve. What we can say about her is she’s a politician who doesn’t write her own statements (surprise, surprise), and doesn’t proof read the ones drafted for her. That’s like going in for a haircut, closing your eyes and saying, ‘It’s up to you,’ which, let’s face it, no person in their right mind would ever do.

That Murray had very little to do with her own ad is perhaps not as earth-shattering as actresses parading fake pony-tails (it should come as no surprise that politicians pay staff or advertising consultants to handle their public image) but still, it makes you wonder how genuine those messages are if she’s not even the one writing them. We start to question, is that her real hair, or some synthetic wig put on to make her look good?

I realize politicians live busy lives, but is authenticity so much to ask for? Who’s really reaching out to me in campaign ads, the person, or the stylist? Murray is not the first nor will she be the last to entrust her image to someone else, but I’m asking politicians to grow out their roots and show us their true colours — no more of that fake hair dye. No one believes it’s natural anyways.

The newspaper company is putting the mess on a salesperson who goofed up and put sobriety in the slogan, and sure, it wasn’t exactly the publicity Murray asked for. But she paid for it, and now she has to wear it, no matter how unflattering it is.

The slip up showed us things aren’t always as they seem, and we should never assume anything, no matter how polished it may appear. It takes just one hair out of place for the whole charade to become unpinned.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724. 

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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