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The backlash over Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s haircut shows women can’t win when it comes to their appearance, experts say

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., apparently obtained a haircut final month, and the Washington Times wished to guarantee readers that it had the news.

“EXCLUSIVE: Self-declared socialist AOC splurges on high-dollar hairdo,” learn the headline of Wednesday’s story.

The article estimated that Ocasio-Cortez’s hair styling at Last Tangle in Washington Salon value about $300, together with an $80 haircut, $180 lowlights and a hypothetical 20 % tip equaling $52. Those costs are listed on the salon’s web site, however neither Last Tangle nor Ocasio-Cortez’s employees responded to requests from The Washington Post for verification of what the congresswoman paid.

The Washington Times quoted Richard Manning, president of the conservative nonprofit group Americans for Limited Government, saying the congresswoman “preaches socialism while living the life of the privileged.”

The information outlet additionally wrote that Ocasio-Cortez’s haircut “stands in stark contrast to” former legal professional normal Jeff Sessions’ common $20 haircuts at Senate Hair Care Services within the basement of the Russell Senate Office Building. The story didn’t point out how usually he will get his hair reduce.

People of all political persuasions responded with a collective eye roll. They mocked the comparability to Sessions, urged the Washington Times to deal with Ocasio-Cortez’s coverage proposals and bemoaned the newspaper’s disapproval of the congresswoman for doing precisely what society anticipated her to do.

“Sorry you don’t get to create beauty standards that require women to spends hundreds or thousands a year to be considered presentable and then hate us for it,” feminist author Jessica Valenti tweeted.

The backlash to the congresswoman’s hair appointment exemplifies a Catch-22 that consultants say girls in public life face: Either be criticized for spending exorbitant quantities of cash to satisfy society’s manufactured magnificence requirements or be lambasted for failing to satisfy these necessities.

“It is all completely consistent with the trap we’ve created where we teach women that the most important thing they can be is physically beautiful, but also criticize them for responding to that pressure,” stated Renee Engeln, writer of “Beauty Sick” and a psychology professor at Northwestern University.

Paying $80 for a haircut and $180 for lowlights – darkening some strands of hair – wouldn’t be uncommon in Washington. At two salons inside blocks of Last Tangle on 19th Street, cuts value $85. Another salon charged $50 for only a haircut or $75 for a reduce and blow-dry. Highlights or lowlights at these salons value $135, $165 and $175.

Ocasio-Cortez, whose annual wage is $174,000, took a swing at her critics Thursday, writing on Twitter that though conservatives wished in charge Democratic socialists for the nation’s revenue inequality, liberals’ insurance policies assist working individuals. “They’re just mad we look good doing it,” she wrote, quoting a tweet concerning the Washington Times’ reporting.

The congresswoman later shared a tweet by authorities watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonprofit group, that stated Vice President Mike Pence spent $600,000 of public funds in September for limousine service to President Donald Trump’s resort in Ireland.

“Won’t you look at that: Mike Pence used *taxpayer funds* – not personal ones – to spend several thousand haircuts’ worth of public money on a visit to Trump golf courses,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “I wonder if Republicans care about corruption as much as they care about a woman’s cut & color.”

Won’t you have a look at that: Mike Pence used *taxpayer funds* – not private ones – to spend a number of thousand haircuts’ value of public cash on a go to to Trump golf programs.

I’m wondering if Republicans care about corruption as a lot as they care a couple of lady’s reduce & shade. https://t.co/xBze4obZhv

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) October 10, 2019

Scrutiny of Ocasio-Cortez’s look is just not new. A Washington Examiner reporter in November tweeted a photograph of the congresswoman from behind and commented, “I’ll tell you something: that jacket and coat don’t look like a girl who struggles.” The web erupted right into a debate about individuals’s biases relating to how skilled girls ought to gown.

Unlike male professionals, who can put on related fits on daily basis, girls are anticipated to range their look usually, Engeln stated. The financial and time prices of assembly societal expectations for girls – together with make-up, lengthy hair, jewellery and matching purses – add up quick.

Criticizing the looks of a feminine politician like Ocasio-Cortez performs off stereotypes about girls as fiscally irresponsible and implies that she will be able to’t be trusted with huge selections as a result of she will be able to’t even spend the “right” sum of money on a haircut, Engeln stated.

When the main target is on a feminine politician’s look, Engeln stated, it distracts from discussions of concepts. The result’s that highly effective girls are silenced, she stated, and different girls are dissuaded from coming into the political area.

“This game is rigged,” Engeln stated. “It was never set up to be fair, and I think the best thing we can do is, to the extent that it’s possible, just refuse to play. Women’s lives are not beauty pageants.”

Ocasio-Cortez and different feminine politicians face a conundrum, stated Jaclyn Wong, a sociology professor on the University of South Carolina who research gender inequality. They may be punished for refusing to take part in “beauty work” corresponding to getting a haircut, or they are often penalized for the sum of money they spend to try this work.

The effort individuals put into their bodily look can have an effect on their wage, Wong stated. She stated girls who’re well-groomed are likely to earn more cash than girls who make investments much less of their appearances – a reward to girls “for behaving the way we expect them to.”

Although girls may be tempted to attempt to play by society’s guidelines about their appearances to keep away from criticism, Wong stated this technique not often works and that girls are higher off calling out the unfair expectations they face.

When it involves Ocasio-Cortez, Wong stated, individuals who criticize her look usually accomplish that as a result of they oppose her insurance policies and understand her as a menace.

“It’s about making her feel uncomfortable for just being a person and doing what she needs to do in this position of power,” Wong stated.

Criticizing politicians’ appearance-related spending, together with the price of their haircuts, is a well-liked method for individuals to make their political opponents seem elitist. A columnist for the New York Post in 2015 chastised Hillary Clinton, then a Democratic presidential candidate, after she was seen coming into a salon the place haircuts can value $600.

Her husband, former president Bill Clinton, was the topic of front-page information tales in 1993 when rumor unfold that he had gotten a $200 haircut whereas Air Force One idled at Los Angeles International Airport, bringing most of the airport’s operations to a standstill. Fact checks later discovered the haircut had not precipitated important delays and doubtless value considerably lower than beforehand reported.

A Republican-linked tv advert attacking Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry in 2004 listed his $75 “Hairstyle by Christophe’s” as proof that he was not the person of the individuals he claimed to be. John Edwards, then a Democratic presidential candidate, in 2007 was dinged in a information report for 2 $400 haircuts for which his marketing campaign picked up the tab.

Commentators seized on Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s spending in 2008 when marketing campaign finance studies confirmed the Republican National Committee had paid $150,000 for her designer wardrobe. Conservatives anxious the revelation would harm Palin’s enchantment to working-class voters.

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