"I feel so much better about myself."
These are words I heard several times at the July 4th barbecues from those who had just received haircuts. There were three volunteer stylists, Christina, Daniella, and Tara who worked non-stop from 11-3. I was the receptionist, and sometimes-bad guy who scheduled people and made them wait their turn. By closing time almost forty people, men, women and a few children received haircuts.
Those are the details, but they do not convey the miracle
that happened. Most people hadn’t had a haircut in a very long time. It added to their downcast demeanor. Some were angry and impatient. The skilled stylists made an effort to cut each person’s hair individualistically. And it worked. The transformation was remarkable. I am not exaggerating when I say men became handsome, woman attractive, and children cute again. And those who had been a bit unpleasant at first, now expressed gratitude.
Most significant of all, were the words some said to me as they left, ”I feel much better about myself.” It was amazing, and
I began to realize the haircuts were more than just haircuts. They had helped strengthen people’s self-esteem.
The reality, of course, is that looking and feeling good for a while does not change the situation in which many of the people I met find themselves. They challenge us to work harder to provide the opportunities for housing, work, training, and healthcare that will build on our July 4th efforts.