As rumors of a coming coronavirus quarantine rumbled toward your city, you may have scrambled to strip the supermarket shelves of all beans; to shore up your toilet paper and weed supplies; to sanitize every surface in the home that will soon become your whole world. Ticking items off your emergency checklist, you probably didn’t stop to think about hair, and why should you? What does hair contribute in this crisis? It’s just sitting there, inert, accumulating grease — why would you make any special accommodations for this dead growth piling up atop your head, when it refuses to pull its own weight?
The fact of my own hair did not cross my mind until today, when political bickering over the possibility of New York City sheltering in place prompted an arresting mental image: Me stumbling out into the wild in … two weeks? two months? September? … extremely pale and possibly also somewhat swole, due to all the beans and home workouts, with my mane grown down to my waistband. It is daunting to think about an indeterminate stretch of days spent locked inside, if also, undeniably, a privilege. What will we do with the time that is given to us — time spent sitting around, passively continuing to create hair? Learn a new skill, perhaps. Learn how to cut our own hair.
Under any other circumstances, dipping a toe in the ocean of self-cut hair would raise with a raft of valid questions: Which scissors to use! Which YouTube tutorial to trust! How to mask the damage I’ve done until a stylist can fix it! Which of my dad hats screams business professional the loudest! But one blessing, and also curse, of the self-isolation era is that you won’t be seeing anyone for who-knows-how-long. You are about to have so much time, and hair, on your hands: why not put it to good use?
Right now, many people will have nowhere to go and only roommates, partners, pets, and/or family for company; loved ones who have zero hoots to give about how your head looks, as that is among the lowest priorities in the midst of a mounting public health emergency. Plus, any egregious mistakes you make when you get in there with the scissors, such as accidentally chopping off a large chunk when your cat jumps out from behind the shower curtain and startles you, will resolve themselves while you wait your way through quarantine.
In this time of overwhelming uncertainty and minute-to-minute change, very few things are certain. Here’s one: if you have hair, it will continue to grow. It will continue its determined march toward the floor until you grab the shears and intervene. Why not have fun with it? Maybe you’ll eat up an idle hour, and wind up with a little extra arts and crafts material in the process. Home hair cuts, the unexpected gift that keeps on giving.
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