The psychology behind this tantalizing midlife makeover


Mark the assembly: It’s time for the quarantine makeover. People practicing social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic are eager to change their look. The evidence is everywhere on social media: With hair salons closed, people have resorted to long locks with craft scissors or shave your head completely, or dye your hair blue Where pink with tincture in box. Lots of men, from Jim Carrey to your uncle, grow up a lumberjack beards.

For some, simply manipulating the hair is not enough. If you can keep your eyes open long enough, you can watch YouTube and TikTok videos of people piercing their ears and noses at home, or letting equally unskilled family members do it for them. Perhaps the more adventurous are those who plan to give themselves quarantine stick-and-poke tattoos with kits they bought from Facebook.

Many people, of course, take control of their appearance out of sheer necessity. They’re fed up with showing up to Zoom meetings with grays, dark roots, split ends, and bangs hanging out in their eyes. (If this is you, WIRED has some tips for avoiding DIY haircut disasters.) – Give reasons that are much more emotional and nebulous. “MY EAR PIERCED AT HOME ** QUARANTINE MADE ME **” yells a YouTube video Title. Regardless of why you’re doing it, however, the urge to get you here, right now, isn’t just your brain reacting to mere boredom. It’s actually a much more complicated coping mechanism.

No one has actually studied mass metamorphoses during a protracted global pandemic – here we are in uncharted territory – but people like Christopher Oldstone-Moore believe there is a lot to be learned from personal expressions of the past. Take beards. According to Oldstone-Moore, who studies gender and hair at Wright State University, beards are associated with ancient and medieval warriors, and, you know, manhood. In times like these, growing up can be a show of resilience. “Psychologically, it can be kind of a statement of courage and cordiality,” he says. “It’s a way of saying, ‘I’m tough. I can withstand adversity. ‘ »Makeover items that require real physical pain, like piercings and tattoos, can have a similar function: thumbing your nose at a difficult time just to remind yourself and others that you are. can.

The urge to change your appearance can also be a desire to change the one thing in your situation that is truly changing. According to Kim Johnson, professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota, where she studied the social psychology of fashion, getting a makeover after a catastrophic event is quite common. “Women who have been sexually assaulted often change their appearance after the assault. It’s a renewed sense of control, ”says Johnson. “Applied to the coronavirus, the reasoning could be ‘I can’t control the virus, but I can control my appearance.

For others, especially those growing a beard, the motivation for their midlife makeover might be as simple as a way to mark the passing of significant time. Oldstone-Moore calls this type of facial hair a “quest beard” – this is common among athletes heading to the playoffs or groups of brothers competing in No Shave November collectively. Often times those beards are shaved after the playoff season is over, but other people use a more permanent dramatic change in their appearance to signal that they’ve sort of crossed a threshold. “Having said that, ‘I’m new now, I’m not like I used to be,'” Oldstone-Moore says. “It’s Al Gore’s beard, David Letterman’s beard.” People spend a lot of time alone thinking, so some aesthetic epiphanies were bound to happen.

The stakes are also low right now. “Person-to-person contact is limited and under control, and you can control who sees you and who doesn’t see you,” says Johnson. “Now is a good time to experiment with appearance changes, and being in quarantine for over a month, appearances could revert to what they were before and no one would know.” This, too, has a precedent: the annals of beard history show that many choose to experiment with facial hair while on vacation.

“One of the most interesting questions for me is how much of what we’re experiencing during this time, are we going to hang on and hold on once that’s over,” Oldstone-Moore said. “It could even lead to new trends. So go ahead, do your hair like no one is looking at you.

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