Opinion: Can we leave Nancy Pelosi's hair alone?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pulls back her hair while speaking about her visit to a hair salon.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) speaks about her visit to a hair salon during a news conference at the Mission Education Center Elementary School in San Francisco on Sept. 2, 2020. (Eric Risberg / Associated Press)

So, let’s talk about Nancy Pelosi’s hair. Or, more specifically, the wash and blowout that the Democratic House Speaker from San Francisco got at a salon there that was shuttered by pandemic rules but somehow managed to open for her — and just her.

Of all the rules surrounding the pandemic that she could have broken — having a dinner party, say, forgetting to put her mask on when she went to Safeway — she picked the one that would outrage everyone. Salon owners in California have been railing against laws that have closed and crippled their businesses for months. Everyone of every gender is desperate to get their hair cut — or colored, highlighted, balayaged, blown out, you name it.

She says that the salon — or the stylist who rents a chair there — told her the rules in San Francisco were that a salon could have one customer inside at one time. She said she believed the stylist. Yeah, that was wishful thinking. A former San Francisco Republican Party vice chairwoman, Harmeet Dhillon, quoted in a story on a San Francisco TV station website, put it more bluntly: “I think that is a lie. Every woman who has been dying to get her hair done for the last five months knows what the rules are." For once, I agree with a Republican.

Pelosi says she takes full responsibility for the illicit blow dry, but says she was “set up” by the salon.

And certainly there was something shady about the salon owner going on Fox News and saying Pelosi’s visit — to her salon — was “a slap in the face” when the owner can’t open the business and clients can’t come in. Apparently, because the stylist rents the chair, he could go in if he wished. But it’s such an odd situation that I think the only result of the owner’s diatribe is that the salon loses Pelosi as a customer whenever it does legitimately open again.

Sure, it’s annoying to see anyone — politicians, celebrities, whoever — flout the rules and get a service the rest of us are dying to get or provide. It’s not like John Edwards paying hundreds to a hairstylist to meet him on the campaign trail to style his hair. (That was just about money and vanity.) This was about securing access that the rest of us have been denied. (And, apparently, about Pelosi not keeping her mask up while she moved through the empty salon.)

She’s not the only female politician who has run afoul of the hair salon rules. In April, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot was called out for having a stylist cut her hair when salons were closed. (The stylist gushed on Facebook and posted pictures with the mayor.)

Lightfoot, true to her straightforward style, defended herself: “I’m the public face of this city. I’m on national media and I’m out in the public eye.”

Lightfoot was right. And that’s why we should cut Pelosi some slack here. Well, I will. Because the day that she got her hair done, she went on MSNBC and her hair looked great. And when she stood outside on a windy day to defend her blowout, her hair still looked great. And, a woman on a stage — and that’s where politicians are today — wants her hair to look great because then it looks normal. And if it didn’t, she would hear about it. And then she’d have to talk about that.

If you want me to tell you that hair is silly and no one should care about it, then you picked the wrong writer to read. We are obsessed with our own hair. We are obsessed with each other’s hair and famous people’s hair — that’s why those hair salon owners are outraged over all the business they’re losing.

Have you looked around? Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris’ hair is perfection. As is Melania Trump’s. Somebody professional somewhere is doing their hair, multiple times, during the pandemic. In Harris’ case, I just hope it’s in her backyard or something.

But I’m guessing that until salons officially reopen, you won’t see Nancy Pelosi hanging out at one.