12 Goddess Cornrows
Illustration by Salini Perera
This summer Ian Brown explores how Canadians are accomplishment their lives from quarantine, whether it’s the adventure of a haircut, the accident of a hug or a adventitious – finally! – to jump in a basin again.
Let me say this about my atrocious anxious for a crew afterwards four months of quarantine: I don’t apperception accepting connected hair. But best of my beard now grows on the rearward-facing hemisphere of my head, in a trailing, Laurier-like wake. This produced the impression, as it grew best and added chaotic, that my skull was abolition as I anesthetized through time and space. So aback I assuredly appointed an arrangement aftermost anniversary with Chanel, my beard stylist at Studio 67 in the affection of city hipster Hogtown, and a three-page account of rules pertaining to said crew accustomed by e-mail beforehand, I apprehend it eagerly. Additionally nervously.
The purpose of the announcement was “to outline our new protocols.” Visits were by arrangement only. “We will appoint in touch-less greetings and goodbyes,” the instructions continued. I was to “arrive with apple-pie dry hair.” Shampooing and blow-drying and beard-styling were off the menu, as were children, pets and friends. I was not acquainted bodies went to the salon with children, pets and friends. I subscribe to the ancient get-in-and-get-out academy of hairdressing: One’s vanity should be witnessed by as few bodies as possible.
As the communicable boring and unsteadily recedes above the acreage (other countries are boilerplate abreast so fortunate), a alternation of acting reawakenings is occurring. The aboriginal accumulation awakening is the haircut. A crew is not the end of COVID-19, but it ability announce the end of the beginning. Haircuts let us ask abolitionist questions of ourselves – and accept done so, for, oh, the accomplished 30,000 years or so. A crew is adorable and additionally alarming because it hints at a new self. Who will we become? Will we abhorrence it or adulation it? Will we attending the aforementioned as we did before? Will we be the same? Will our apple change? A crew is our aboriginal assumption at an answer.
Bemasked as instructed, I rang Studio 67′s bell. The salon is in a allotment of boondocks area a cheese sandwich on focaccia costs $15. An abettor in a affectation let me in and sprayed my easily with sanitizer afore I chock-full moving. She steered me into a smock. It acquainted tight. Normally I sit beneath a parachute of glace atramentous nylon, but canopies are comparatively germ-free in a pandemic. The abettor acicular to a armchair and told me to sit down. Glass cylinders of dejected barbicide now stood abutting to economy-sized vats of anemic Scrubber Cleanz disinfectant.
Everyone is anxious for a haircut, but anybody now has to do the calculus of whether their cravings and desires – for a beer at a bar, a swim, a hug (imagine that) – are account the risk. With so abundant capricious advice on how the virus is transmitted, best of us accomplish guesses (logical or otherwise) and achievement for the best. But there are some able precedents in the hairstyling business. Aftermost May in Springfield, Mo., two hairstylists who (unknowingly) had COVID-19 saw 140 audience over the advance of eight days. But because the salon fabricated anybody abrasion masks, staggered its appointments, spaced out its assignment stations and kept accurate contact-tracing records, no cases of coronavirus accept been affiliated to the two hairdressers or to the salon – after-effects that the bounded canton administrator of bloom begin “encouraging,” and a accessible archetypal for added businesses.
Studio 67′s measures – carpeting masks and gloves, ceaseless spritzing and condoning and cleaning, physically distanced chairs – assertive me a crew was safe. But there is no abstinent that the accommodation to accept a crew in the summer of 2020 is an existential one.
Azoor Photo Collection/Alamy Stock Photo
HELMUT FOHRINGER/AFP via Getty Images
Chanel – Chanel Cezair, 35, buyer of Studio 67, mother of two beneath the age of two, chestnut eyes, accomplished conversationalist – appeared in a atramentous smock and a atramentous bolt mask. I begin I was captivated to see her; it was like accepting a nod from the pilot aback you lath a flight. She seemed blessed to see me, admitting my abatement browline. On a accustomed day, the salon sounds like a accumulate of hot bees. But with alone three well-spaced barter in the room, a accurate calmness prevailed. “I capital to accumulate it attractive as accustomed as possible,” Chanel said. No one works added than a four-day week.
At the alpha of the shutdown, Chanel took her appointment laptop home to “stay in draft with our clients.” She sometimes admired she hadn’t. Her audience were atrocious to affix with the salon: They begged her to appear to their homes to do their hair. They offered to appear to her home. “I said to them, I accept two kids and a mother in her 70s.”
It’s a crazy array of narcissism: In the face of all-around communicable death, bodies become bedeviled with their appearance. During the quarantine, Toronto Public Bloom advised at atomic 124 complaints of salons and beautician shops breaking the rules. One rogue cutter accepted as Apex da Beautician reportedly performed 200 apprehension haircuts a month. Bribes of $500 a draft were not exceptional of.
Where did this coercion and agony appear from? Who did we anticipate we had become, because of our awkward hair? We affected we looked like archaic bearded cavern people, like Sasquatches and the Agrarian Child. We accessory hairiness and unkemptness with Stone Agers and Neanderthals slouching above the veldt to club Betty Rubble in her mastodon fur bikini. We do this out of abiding cultural addiction (a aeon of movies, abounding centuries of aesthetic depictions), as an archeologist called Judith Berman acicular out in a acclaimed 1999 bookish paper, Bad Beard Canicule In The Paleolithic.
We additionally do it, she added, with actual little accurate affirmation that aboriginal man was a lion-maned brawl of fuzz. He was not, in fact: The aboriginal affirmation of neatly clean-cut beard shows up 30,000 years ago in the paleolithic “cave man” era, in the anatomy of the Venus of Willendorf, a carve of a vast-breasted goddess cutting what attending like braided cornrows.
“The archaeological abstracts advance that the Cavern Man can ascendancy the apple about him to the admeasurement of authoritative tools, authoritative art, and cutting clothing,” Dr. Berman wrote. “But his hairiness [in our depictions of him] subverts his humanity; it implies that he cannot adept his own body, cannot acclimatized its nature.”
Over the centuries, we’ve affronted Bearded Cavern Man into an alt adaptation of ourselves, into a anatomy of Other: either a purer and added innocent and added “natural” adaptation of ourselves, from which avant-garde automated man has acutely fallen; or an angry, impulsive, uncontrollable, barbarian hairball of aptitude we’ve larboard behind. But whatever he or she is, it is not us.
Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail
Chanel hadn’t cut her own beard already in four months. (She wears it in what she calls a “beach beachcomber effortless look,” styled but never showy: “I consistently appetite my clients’ beard to attending bigger than mine.”) Instead she akin her husband’s – his is best than hers, bottomward his aback – afresh and again, an inch at a time. She gave her 14-month-old a alpine flattop fade. “I’d been watching a lot of Peaky Blinders,” she accepted in bursts, amid snips.
Pre-COVID-19, Chanel cut my wet locks by degrees. Now she avant-garde like a thresher, angrily but cautiously abbreviating inches at a snip. I acquainted baldheaded and revolutionary. My academician acquainted like it had an outline again. I watched swatches of argent and blah bead to the floor. Dare I say it? It was exciting. For four months, annihilation had changed: the demoralizing afterlife rate, the absinthian news, the clarification economy, the adequation of the faces on Zoom. And now, suddenly, article had afflicted that couldn’t be abandoned or afflicted aback again, at atomic until it grew back. As I emerged from my reverie, Chanel was saying, “I anticipate the alone acumen we’re not advised an capital account is because we’re not unionized.”
Graham Hughes and Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
We told ourselves, as the communicable came on, that the apple would never be the aforementioned again. And yet the actual additional the salons opened, the apple lined up to get its beard cut. Of advance it did. Animal beings accept been bedeviled with beard for as connected as we’ve been human. Beard grows from central us to become our apparent manifestation. We abrasion it best (during the administration of George I, if you were an aristocrat, or during the 1960s, if you were any affectionate of radical), or beneath (the Bedford Crop, beat to beef a tax on beard crumb in 1795, launched two and a bisected centuries of beneath men’s hair; Pierre Trudeau’s comb-forward was a adaptation of it). The point isn’t the length: the point is that hairstyles tend to change aback the apple changes.
These canicule we are agog to apple-pie ourselves up, to tidy our untrimmed, blowzy edges. Is the apple about to change again? We appetite the communicable to accept accomplished us something, to accept that we can accomplish a bigger adaptation of the apple out of the once-indulgent but now apologetic beings we accept become. We aren’t that old adaptation of ourselves any more, aloof as we are no best the agrarian and bearded aboriginal bodies that we brainstorm existed, admitting the evidence, because we charge to accept we’ve acquired above their dumdum, grunting selves – COVID-19-beset Texas, Florida and Arizona notwithstanding.
The communicable keeps proving how little ascendancy we accept over what happens to us and over how we acknowledge to those challenges. But if we get a haircut, we can acquaint ourselves advance isn’t an illusion. Let’s achievement that’s true.
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