Image courtesy of ABC27 News
By Franchetta Groves
Last week Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi came under heat for going to a salon in San Francisco for a haircut, despite local restrictions which say that salons must remain closed. The representative from California has continued to enforce strict laws in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Salons in her state have remained unable to open and operate among many small businesses.
Erica Kious, who owns the salon where Pelosi received her haircut, has been renting out seats to stylists. On Sunday prior to Pelosi’s appointment, Kious received the news that the Speaker of the House would be coming in the following morning.
“It was a slap in the face that she went in, you know, that she feels that she can just go and get her stuff done while no one else can go in, and I can’t work,” Kious told Fox News, who first covered the story. “We have been shut down for so long, not just me, but most of the small businesses and I just can’t — it’s a feeling — a feeling of being deflated, helpless and honestly beaten down.”
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of California has remained on strict lockdown and salons have been unable to reopen. Many believed that they would be able to open in June or July if they implemented social distancing policies and safety precautions. Kious says that she herself installed plexiglass partitions between sinks and seating as well as made sure that all chairs were six feet apart and there was proper air circulation from open windows. Despite these precautions, the salon has been forced to remain closed due to local rules.
The news of Pelosi’s polarizing haircut came after video footage was leaked from the salon’s security camera. Pelosi can be seen walking in, without her mask covering her mouth, after having her hair washed while the stylist follows behind her wearing his mask. Many conservative commentators have reacted angrily especially since the incident occurred days after Pelosi had accused Republicans of rejecting the scientists’ advice and “rejecting the funding needed for testing and tracing to crush the virus and safely reopen schools and the economy.”
Pelosi’s team responded to these accusations of hypocrisy, saying that the Speaker of the House was set up.
“The speaker always wears a mask and complies with local COVID requirements,” spokesman Drew Hammill said in a statement to The Washington Post, adding Pelosi briefly took down her mask while getting her hair washed. “This business offered for the speaker to come in on Monday and told her they were allowed by the city to have one customer at a time in the business. The speaker complied with the rules as presented by this establishment.”
When asked by reporters, Pelosi claimed that the salon “owes her an apology” and she was “set up.”
While the owner claims she felt betrayed by Pelosi coming to the salon while lockdowns are still in effect, Jonathan DeNardo—the stylist who blew out Pelosi’s hair—came to the defense of the representative and released a comment through his lawyers.
“Ms. Kious has also been actively encouraging and almost forcing stylists who operate at eSalon to violate such orders for her own financial benefit in the form of receiving lease payments,” the statement says. “The fact that Ms. Kious is now objecting to Speaker Pelosi’s presence at eSalon, and from a simple surface-level review of Ms. Kious’ political leanings, it appears Ms. Kious is furthering a set-up of Speaker Pelosi for her own vain aspirations.”
“I think Nancy Pelosi was not a good role model for others when she didn’t obey the laws,” commented sophomore Politics major Emily Martinsen. “It’s very unfair to law-abiding citizens. I do not believe she was set up—if she wanted to obey the law she could have and not have had her hair done.”
As the United States heads into another election year in the midst of a global pandemic, polarization has continued to occur. Reactions from both conservative and liberal commentators indicate that the way our politicians respond to the pandemic could have a significant impact on the outcome of the election. With decisions as small as getting a haircut or not causing mass public outroar, it seems as though this election cycle and responses to the pandemic will continue to create more division.