Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, a Republican, drew fierce criticism during the early days of the Coronavirus pandemic for apparently failing to take the crisis seriously. As stay-at-home orders fell into place across the country, he posted an image on social media of himself and his family at a packed restaurant — and, besides the shaming he got from concerned observers, he ended up implementing an emergency declaration in his state the very next day. Yet, although a supposed explanation for the new incident did emerge, Stitt is still facing allegations of failing to take the crisis seriously in the wake of a Facebook post from a hair and makeup artist sharing that she’d “done makeup and hair” for the governor.
Cosmetology services are among those that have been forced to close in the state amidst the pandemic. Stitt’s office insisted:
‘Hair salons and similar establishments are not considered essential services and must remain closed until April 30 to limit close contact and personal touch as Oklahomans work together to limit the spread of COVID-19.’
So why did Stitt get his own hair and makeup done? Supposedly, the services were provided prior to a television appearance, which his office has deemed an essential part of his own job duties as governor.
Local media outlet KFOR News received a statement indicating that the services outlined in the makeup artist’s original Facebook post were provided “in the studios of a professional television media services company that provides hair and makeup services in conjunction with live television news broadcasts and media tours.” On top of the venue excuse, they added that special protections were supposedly undertaken to limit the possibility of virus transmission among those present. These claimed safety steps included wearing a mask and gloves “at all times,” the thorough sanitization of all styling tools “before and after use,” and even limiting the number of people in the staging area to four at a time, who were required to remain apart, among other steps.
That’s all fine and dandy — but it doesn’t erase the fact that Stitt managed to get his own hair and makeup done while cosmetologists across the state suffered the financial hardship of the social distancing measures enacted to attempt to stem the spread of the Coronavirus. Dee Dean, who works as a hair stylist in the state, told KFOR:
‘I find it’s a little bit hypocritical. I mean if the rules are the rules, then the rules should apply to everybody.’
Nikki Crow, a fellow hair stylist in the state, observed:
‘I guess it’s a necessity for them but not for other people. My kids were like, ‘What are you going to get me for Easter?’ Not really like that but, you know, the Easter bunny, and I’m thinking, I can play with you. We can read books. We can hang out, but I don’t know when I’m going to receive any more money.’
Members of Congress have been working on developing financial support for those hard-hit by the pandemic. So far, measures that have passed include expansions of unemployment benefits, adding $600 a week for the time being, and plans for direct payments of $1,200 that some people have apparently already started receiving.