When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

ABC

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.


See more from Coronavirus here

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Ideas

A Writer's Advice For How To Read The Words Of Politics

Colombia's reformist president has promised to tackle endemic violence, economic exclusion, pollution and corruption in the country. So what's new with a politician's promises?

Image of Colombian President Gustavo Petro speaking during a press conference in Buenos Aires on Jan 14, 2023

Colombian President Gustavo Petro, speaks during a press conference in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on January 24, 2023.

Manuel Cortina/ZUMA
Héctor Abad Faciolince

-Essay-

BOGOTÁ — Don't concentrate on his words, I was once advised, but look at what he's doing. I heard the words so long ago I cannot recall who said them. The point is, what's the use of a husband who vows never to beat his wife in January and leaves her with a bruised face in February?

Words are a strange thing, and in literal terms, we must distrust their meaning. As I never hit anyone, I have never declared that I wouldn't. It never occurred to me to say it. Strangely, there is more power and truth in a simple declaration like "I love her" than in the more emphatic "I love her so much." A verbal addition here just shrinks the "sense" of love.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest