For weeks now I’ve listened to Karens on Twitter and elsewhere chastising protesters holding signs that say, “I need a haircut.” How selfish! They shriek. People are dying! I hope you die too!
While I agree that the jokey protest signs aren’t helpful and trivialize the situation America faces with the economy shut down and thirty million people out of work, it’s not really about getting a haircut. I decided to call my stylist and ask for haircuts for my family because I know he’s been out of work since March. He’s a single dad with three kids and no unemployment check because New York is so backed up processing the millions of requests, he is left sitting in limbo. He has rent to pay. He has mouths to feed.
I could go forever without having my hair done, I really don’t care about it that much. It’s nice to get the grays covered, but I have long hair I can trim on my own. While it’s nice to have that salon-fresh feeling, it’s not a necessity in my life, but a “want.” So I could go without it. But Tom (obviously not his real name because I don’t want anyone tracking him down and snitching to the state) cannot go without revenue. He’s living on the edge of destruction while everyone around him tells him he’s selfish for wanting to work and feed his kids. And I notice that the people chastising him for wanting to work all still have revenue coming in.
His story reminds me of Shelley Luther, who was released from jail on Thursday after she was arrested for refusing to close her salon. Many hairdressers are living paycheck-to-paycheck like many Americans. Their lives are essential. They deserve to make a living. If the government had compensated them for taking their businesses (like eminent domain) then they’d be okay. But they’re not okay. They got $1200 like everyone else. How long would that last you if that was all you had?
Shelley Luther has been released from jail in Dallas pic.twitter.com/b7ScIT6Y5I
— Savanah Hernandez (@sav_says_) May 7, 2020
The privileged people sitting at home with paychecks rolling in, either from unemployment or work-at-home situations, should be ashamed to criticize people who have no revenue coming in. By what moral authority do you sit on your comfy couch surrounded by all your toilet paper and hoarded food and decide which people should go hungry to make you feel safer?
Let us also not forget that politicians got their hair done and considered it essential for themselves, like Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and Pennsylvania Senate staffers. If they can do it, but you can’t, then it’s surely not about your health.
It should be said over and over again: if we can congregate by the hundreds in Walmart, Lowes, Home Depot, and Target, there is no reason we cannot see our hairstylists in a salon or buy an outfit at a small boutique. In all the times I’ve shopped in the small shops on our Main Street, I’ve never been in a crowd bigger than three at a time. Those small stores are no more dangerous than a packed Walmart (and probably a lot less so, being so much less crowded).
And don’t get me started on churches. We can stand in line at Wegman’s for a half-hour but we can’t line up for communion? None of this makes any sense. So if you want your life to start making more sense, it’s time to start disobeying stupid and unlawful edicts that have nothing to do with your health and everything to do with controlling you and asserting authority over you. Take your own risks, stay home and quarantined if you’re scared, but if you’re not scared, and find yourself more concerned with your struggling neighbor, then join me on the black market and get your economy going again. Call your favorite bar and find out if you can buy a growler out the back door, or ask your hairstylist to come to your house, but don’t let people fall behind on their mortgages or rent when they can provide services you can use.
This is a free country. Let’s act like it.
Megan Fox is the author of “Believe Evidence; The Death of Due Process from Salome to #MeToo,” and host of The Fringe podcast. Follow on Twitter @MeganFoxWriter