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The Meaning Of A Haircut

An open barbershop seen following strict sanitary conditions in Spain.
An open barbershop seen following strict sanitary conditions in Spain.
Bertrand Hauger

We have all, at some point, thought about the very first thing we'd do once lockdown restrictions start to lift. Going for a cup of coffee, dining out, meeting friends in the flesh (not on Zoom). But there's one item on our list of mundane things we took for granted that we're reminded of each time we look in the mirror: a good old haircut.

For billions of confined people around the world, our scruffy appearances have progressively become a very tangible reminder of the limitations imposed upon our quarantined lives for the past couple of months.

Turns out it is not (only) a question of vanity. As clinical psychologist Dr. Ilyse Dobrow DiMarco told ABC News, with this kind of routine activity "We know what to expect, and that helps us feel in control." We go to the hairdresser's. We chit-chat for a bit with our trusty barber. We get our hair cut. We pay for it. Nice, clean, predictable. At least some portion of chaos that can be easily tamed — not too short in the neck, thank you very much.

But even as barbershops start to reopen in some countries, as downward infection rates encourage governments to ease lockdown measures, getting a haircut will most likely be a very different experience. How, indeed, can we reconcile this close-quarters activity with the current sanitary distanciation guidelines?

Le Monde enumerates some of the hygiene practices put in place in France: "Compulsory masks, gloves and plastic visors, single-use gowns, disinfecting the tools in between haircuts, taking away magazines." While in Germany, patrons are required to fill out questionnaires before entering a shop ... Not exactly the kind of intimate atmosphere that induces small talk about the weather or Tiger King. In post-COVID salons, it may take us some time before we, well, let our hair down.

Still, angst notwithstanding, at the stroke of midnight on Monday — just as the country started loosening its lockdown restrictions — some French people rushed to cross that item from their resurrection list. From the north to the south, barbershops started buzzing with business, showing exactly how essential those "non-essential jobs' are when we're shut off from something we took for granted. Did two months of "hair anarchy" change us?, Le Monde wonders. Will a simple haircut help bring us back to our old selves again?

A haircut may be a symbol of something basic about our modern lives. An affordable luxury we set our calendars to. A bit of self-care and a boost to our feral morale. And now, perhaps, a sign that things are starting to get back to normal — one particularly scruffy writer certainly hopes so.

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

What Are Iran's Real Intentions? Watch What The Houthis Do Next

Three commercial ships traveling through the Red Sea were attacked by missiles launched by Iran-backed Yemeni Houthi rebels, while the U.S. Navy shot down three drones. Tensions that are linked to the ongoing war in Gaza conflict and that may serve as an indication as to Iran's wider intentions.

photo of Raisi of iran speaking in parliament

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi at the Iranian parliament in Tehran.

Icana News Agency via ZUMA
Pierre Haski


PARIS — It’s a parallel war that has so far claimed fewer victims and attracted less public attention than the one in Gaza. Yet it increasingly poses a serious threat of escalating at any time.

This conflict playing out in the international waters of the Red Sea, a strategic maritime route, features the U.S. Navy pitted against Yemen's Houthi rebels. But the stakes go beyond the Yemeni militants — with the latter being supported by Iran, which has a hand in virtually every hotspot in the region.

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Since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, the Houthis have been making headlines, despite Yemen’s distance from the Gaza front. Starting with missiles launched directed toward southern Israel, which were intercepted by U.S. forces. Then came attacks on ships belonging, or suspected of belonging, to Israeli interests.

On Sunday, no fewer than three commercial ships were targeted by ballistic missiles in the Red Sea. The missiles caused minor damage and no casualties. Meanwhile, three drones were intercepted and destroyed by the U.S. Navy, currently deployed in full force in the region.

The Houthis claimed responsibility for these attacks, stating their intention to block Israeli ships' passage for as long as there was war in Gaza. The ships targeted on Sunday were registered in Panama, but at least one of them was Israeli. In the days before, several other ships were attacked and an Israeli cargo ship carrying cars was seized, and is still being held in the Yemeni port of Hodeida.

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