Flat White

How dare we ignore our celebrities at a time like this?

30 April 2020

5:30 PM

30 April 2020

5:30 PM

In the latest example of how the cult of celebrity trivialises everything it touches, actress Hilarie Burton has announced that her grey hair is a show of solidarity with essential workers.

The American actress yesterday made what reporters described as “an emotional Instagram post” advising she had stopped dying her hair as a way of supporting those on the frontline of the Coronavirus epidemic.

“For all of our frontline and essential workers who are too busy to fuss with things like hair color, I grow mine out in solidarity with you,” Burton wrote, in a post that must surely have inspired health care workers around the world. 

Most of us thought the 37-year-old’s grey hair was a sign of ageing. But no, it’s actually a sign of her thoughtfulness.

At age 49 I too have grey hairs coming through. But it has never once occurred to me to offer them up as my brave contribution to the fight against Covid-19. Shame on me. 

When I look in the mirror I just see hair sadly lacking pigmentation. But celebrities see with different eyes, as Burton explained to her 1.1 million Instagram followers. 

“When I see it, I’m reminded of all you’re doing to keep us safe. I’m reminded that you deserve to be taken care of.

“I hope the nurse or the vet or the store clerk who is feeling tired and overwhelmed knows that it’s a visible thing I can show that says ‘I’m with you’.”

No doubt exhausted medics, now armed with the knowledge that Burton is unable to get to a hair salon, will find strength to carry on treating the infirmed. 


Burton, famous for her role in Grey’s Anatomy, decided to use her own grey anatomy to put herself front and centre in the health crisis. People Magazine, E-News and the Daily Mail – representative of media who long ago gave up judging serious issues by serious criteria – all breathlessly reported Burton’s contribution. 

Her Instagram post soon lit up with more than 3000 comments -– not about how great essential workers were for tending the sick but, rather, about how virtuous Burton was for letting nature take its course on her skull.

“Your compassion, empathy and thoughtfulness is what is sorely lacking around our country,” wrote one woman.  

She might have added that also missing was any sense of perspective. But that would have required perspective.

“Thank you for this. It’s incredibly reassuring to me for some reason. I love you for posting this,” gushed another, who knew Burton’s hair colour was meaningful but just didn’t know why; typical of many people these days who think with their feelings and only know how to reason by way of their emotions.

And then there was this: “I loved you before this, as an actress, but now I think you’re a pretty amazing person too. Thank you for using your platform and your privilege to make the world a better place.”

Kate Walsh, star of the Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why, described Burton’s sprouting greys as a “halo”. Sainthood has never been so easy as in the era of virtue signalling. 

What does it say about us that so many believe you can make the world a better place — adding compassion and empathy — by simply not colouring your hair? 

How stupid was Mother Teresa, living and working among the sick, when she could have just let her roots grow out!

And what a waste of Dr Catherine Hamlin’s life, spent helping the sick in Ethiopia, when sitting at home in Sydney posting pictures of her hair would have done the trick nicely.

It Burton not dying her hair was a sign of virtue, it is unsurprising then that a number of women felt the need to repent for having dyed their hair – and in so doing displayed a lack of care for vets and nurses and store clerks and whatever. 

“I bought a root touch-up that’s temporary,” confessed one woman. “I still support our frontline heroes. I don’t think covering my roots means I don’t.”

Burton did not respond to the woman – now free of greys but beset by guilt – and so she received no absolution. But the message was clear. Take a good hard look at yourself in the mirror; you know, like a celebrity.

Of course, not everyone understood the significance of Burton’s sacrifice.

One person, completing missing the obvious connection between Burton’s hair and the worldwide health crisis, wrote: “You’re beautiful, no matter what colour your hair is.” 

And that was really the point. Just because there is an epidemic causing thousands of deaths, we should not forget how beautiful our celebrities are. But it’s all for the frontline workers, of course.

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