04 April 2020
Jacob Kunthara's wife and three adult children had never seen him without the mustache he wore for 45 years. But the spread of COVID-19 and the restrictions it brought to public life led to a change of face for Kunthara.
The family lives in Gilbert, Arizona, a town under a stay-at-home order. On a recent day at home, Kunthara secretly cut off all the hair on his face and covered his face with a cloth. Then, at dinner, he tore off the cloth, surprising his wife and children with his new hair-free face.
Fiona Riebeling of New Haven, Connecticut, took similar action to create a new look for herself, but worked with some unusual tools.
Riebeling watched a YouTube video on how to cut hair. After, she realized she had no haircutting equipment. So, she searched her home for substitutes. In the end, cooking tools, including a fork and skewers, helped her go from long hair to short.
Across the United States, the COVID-19 "stay at home" order has moved many people to experiment with their hair. Online, the movement is called corona cuts or quarantine cuts.
The experimenters know they have several weeks at least before they will be seen in public. That is enough time for most to regrow a haircut that goes wrong.
"This is the most radical thing I've done ever," said Kunthara, a 62-year-old civil engineer. He acted just one week into the stay-at-home order.
He said, "I thought, ‘Maybe this is the best time to try something. I'm home, we cannot go anywhere.'"
Riebeling expressed the same idea. "Being in quarantine takes off a lot of the pressure that you normally might feel going out in public and worrying about your appearance," she said.
Reibeling cut her hair while on a video call with two friends also trapped in their homes.
"We're limited right now in our movement and what we can do," Riebeling said. She noted that such restrictions can cause fear.
"To find places where you can feel empowered and make decisions about yourself, your body, how you choose to be in the world is a great way of reminding yourself that you are in control of as much as you can be," Riebeling said.
Ed Maudlin is a call center employee now restricted to working at home in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Maudlin said he looked at his full, 30-year-old beard and thought, "I wonder what I look like under there?"
He told the Reuters news agency his office did not plan on reopening for at least a month. That meant it would be only his girlfriend who would see him in person for a while.
So Maudlin went for extreme change. He removed all the hair from his head and face for a very smooth look.
"I decided to go with the full all-over - nobody will know," said Maudlin. He expects his face and head hair will grow back by the time he is in the office.
"I figure I will come out of this looking like maybe I need a bit of a haircut rather than looking like Tom Hanks on the island," said Maudlin. He was speaking of the 2000 film Cast Away, in which Hanks stars as a man trapped for years alone on an island with no connection to humanity.
I'm Jill Robbins.
Reuters News Agency reported this story. Caty Weaver adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
mustache -n. hair growing on a man's upper lip
quarantine -n. a restraint upon the activities or communication of persons or the transport of goods designed to prevent the spread of disease or pests
radical -adj. very different from the usual or traditional
remind -v. to make (someone) think about something again : to cause (someone) to remember something
beard -n. the hair that grows on a man's cheeks and chin