Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Hairstyle as Metaphor

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I rarely comment on politics here, although that may change as the U.S. 2008 presidential elections season looms larger & larger on the horizon. However, I came across this article today and I couldn't resist a question or two. Click on this link and read the article:

Back now? I hope the link worked. It is a well known truism that a woman's looks and carriage effects the world's perception of her as both a woman and a professional. I understand and accept this, despite my own feeling that ability ought to be more important than wardrobe and make up. This isn't to say I'm anti aesthetics- one of my favorite indulgences is to make an appointment at the Lancome counter and get a make over.

However, if you read the article Ms. Tymoshenko (for a brief biography click HERE) and her handlers sound as if they are deliberately attempting to conflate purity, religion and politics via Ms. Tymoshenko's hairstyle, a long braid wrapped around her head, and her wardrobe choices, said to be predominantly white to better emphasize her 'purity' (specifically in reference to graft, apparently). To say I'm a little surprised and bemused at such antics is an understatement.

IMO this implies that Ms. Tymoshenko isn't or wasn't or couldn't be taken seriously on her own without such theatrics. I also wonder what such a facade hides. Who is she really beneath all this affectation? Are her fellow countrymen truly so easily manipulated?

On the other hand, of all of the news articles referencing Ms. Tymoshenko, it seems that IHT is one of the few who devotes an entire article to Ms. Tymoshenko's hair and wardrobe choices. A not so subtle attempt to trivialize her? A weak attempt to lighten the tone of the political climate in her home country? Column filler? Slow news day? Is this actually an issue widely covered inher country?

None of this is to say that U.S. politics, whether national, state or local is above equally cynical or manipulative behavior. I'm not claiming any special insight or supremacy. Just food for thought.

In the interests of full disclosure- I too have long hair that I mostly wear in braids, although I can't wrap it around my head. That would take more time and devotion and care than I can muster right now.

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