If it's a day of the week ending in Y, a conservative media outlet is probably criticizing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. But the challenge with criticizing AOC is that there's simply not much to criticize. She brings smart, progressive ideas to the table, comes to work exceedingly well-prepared to do her job, is charismatic and eloquent under incredibly stressful circumstances, and therefore scares the bejesus out of certain conservatives who can't or won't wrap their heads around political stances like hers. So when it's time to grasp at straws in an effort to make her look bad, publications like The Washington Times really have to reach. And most recently, it attempted to make AOC seem somehow scandalous for — brace yourself — getting a haircut and highlights.
In an October 9 article by legal affairs reporter Alex Swoyer titled "EXCLUSIVE: Self-declared socialist AOC splurges on high-dollar hairdo," The Washington Times insinuates that it's hypocritical for a democratic socialist to spend an estimated $300 on a trip to the salon — specifically, Washington, DC's Last Tangle, which charges $80 or more for women's haircuts and $180 for a full head of highlights. (In an uncharacteristically kind assumption about AOC for this particular publication, Swoyer guesses that another $52 was left for a 20-percent tip.) The article quotes the president of conservative organization Americans for Limited Government, Richard Manning, who says, "AOC is the Eva Peron of American politics. She preaches socialism while living the life of the privileged," slamming her for spending hundreds of dollars to get her hair done.
Aside from contributing to sexism in the form of outrage over what women spend on their appearance (often spoken by the same mouths that complain just as loudly when a woman in the public eye doesn't look attractive enough by their standards), the suggestion that AOC is somehow hypocritical for spending $300 on her hairstyle sounds like something someone who has no idea how much things cost would say. Had Manning done a quick search of service-finding website Thumbtack, he might have read that, in the U.S., "Pricing for haircuts can range anywhere from $35 to $150 or more. Hair-coloring services range in price from $65 to $200 or more," depending on factors like the products used, the stylist's experience, and the location. And as anyone in a city like Washington, DC, can tell you, prices are generally higher — especially for women, who are frequently charged more than men in salons.
But while Manning may not be up on what women typically pay for hair services in DC, the article's author seems like she may be. Swoyer's Washington Times bio page features a photo of her in which she has a layered haircut and blonde highlights. (I tweeted at her to ask what she pays for a haircut and highlights at her salon, but I have not yet received a response.) However, despite presumably understanding that styling and coloring are rarely inexpensive experiences, Swoyer inexplicably compares AOC's salon choices with that of Jeff Sessions, writing, "Her high-dollar hairdo stands in stark contrast to that of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a former senator from Alabama who is a regular customer at Senate Hair Care Services in the basement of the Russell Senate Office Building," where haircuts are $20 (for the men, at least).
I'm not the only one getting in my eye-rolling exercises over this article; Twitter is full of annoyed responses (of course). "'Why won’t AOC get her hair cut like Jeff Sessions?' is certainly a take," Buzzfeed's Josh Billinson tweeted. "AOC paying a hair stylist a reasonable wage is absolutely consistent with socialism, you absolute sacks of moldy corn," writer Max Sparber shared. Jacobin magazine's Twitter account sarcastically wrote, "Sad to see democratic socialists like Bernie and @AOC do things like buy winter coats and get haircuts. Don’t they know that real socialists avoid purchasing goods and services?"
But perhaps the best response was from AOC herself, who quote-tweeted Jacobin and wrote, "40 million Americans live in poverty under today’s extreme inequality, yet the right-wing want you to blame Democratic socialism for their own moral failures. Our policies, like Medicare for All, advance prosperity for working people. They’re just mad we look good doing it."
More on AOC:
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is About to Get a Drag Makeover
- Why it Matters That Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Wore Hoops to Her Swearing-In Ceremony
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Shares Her Press-On Manicure Tips
Now check out 100 years of hairstyling tools:
Originally Appeared on Allure