The “Hair Flip” Decoy (And How We Fell For It)

To be perfectly honest, the first thing that came to mind upon seeing CNN Philippines Senior Anchor and Correspondent Pinky Webb do a hair flip in an interview with a rather temperamental Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on her program ‘The Source’ is this: “So what if she did a hair flip? And why is everyone making such a fuss about it?”

That was the time when a rather disappointing epiphany dawned on me: we, as a race, are so easy to distract.

Making fun of a politician’s stupidity is among the many past-times of today’s virtually-present Filipino. The Webb-Roque discordance proves this to be relevant even more so. However, this leads most of us astray from the essence of what it truly means to engage in socio-political discourses. Instead of making it an endeavor towards political correctness, it becomes mere entertainment.


IT WAS JUST A CHALLENGE. Mareng Pinky sensya ka na sa haireret ko, kinulayan kasi ni Sec.Roque😂 #dubberkads #dubkingjules #cnnphilippines #pinkywebb

♬ PINKY WEBB – 👑 Jules Eusebio 👑

Take PhilStar’s coverage last January 21 entitled “‘Hair flip is life’: 5 most iconic ‘Flip-inas’ in recent years.” It is interesting to think that most online readers prefer to surrender themselves to the momentum of “hair flip” as it dominates all keyword searches. Instead of focusing on the quality of the conversation, instead of focusing on the Roque outrage against University of the Philippines Professor Danilo Arao’s challenge, Webb’s hair flip became an opportunity to reminisce similar past events. The same article even included celebrities and icons like Julia Barretto and Catriona Gray for having straight hair as if it was some sort of a shampoo commercial.

In a Manila Bulletin feature (mind you, Entertainment News) also published last January 21, Webb was highlighted as someone prepping for the worse as she takes on a new challenge to start wearing a ponytail.

If the reportage was done otherwise, should the Roque-Arao conflict be viewed as a male-dominated media report? Should it be termed as a male-centric double standard? Based on how it looks like, it seems that it is a safer angle to glorify Webb’s boldness instead of criticizing Roque for his temper. We have nothing to be proud about this since based on a qualitative comparison, the Roque-Arao conflict would definitely bear more elaboration to the discussion on the UP militarization issue. So far, Webb’s hair flip hype has only given us passive admiration.

We, as consumers, insultingly limited Webb to a hair flip.

This complacency behind the screen is disturbing.

It cannot be denied that Pinky Webb’s hair flip was a quasi-symbol for empowerment over the irrationality of men. In fact, various media narratives highlighted Webb’s hair flip as something that would maximize women empowerment to scream at all available headline outlets. However, this very advocacy waters down the essence of why there was rage in the first place (that is, of course, the now-militarized UP).

It is downright disturbing to think that the hype from the woke online community was used against their very cause. It is saddening to see how we grew to be contented with mere seconds of glorification, savoring every bit of it as we convince ourselves that we are now empowered thanks to Webb’s daring hair flip. But at the end of it, nothing has changed.

What makes this even worse and by far even more shameful to bear is this: online trolls didn’t really have to do anything at this point.

About the Author

John Thimoty Romero is a licensed professional teacher, a graduate of Philippine Normal University – Manila last 2017 as Bachelor of Secondary Education – Major in English. Upon his graduation, he received the Gawad Graciano Lopez – Jaena Co-Curricular Award for Campus Journalism.

He is the founder of Essays Against Mediocrity, a website dedicated to support independent authors, poets, and other content creators.

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