Quarantine cuts people off from their daily life in ways that are both immediately obvious and imminently catastrophic. Millions of people lost their livelihood, their social-support systems, or both in the course of only a few days. As isolation becomes normal, though, its toll begins to emerge in more subtle ways, including on the body itself. Suddenly barred from hair and nail salons, waxers, barber shops, clothing stores, and Sephora, people have found it much more difficult to maintain the routines that structure their appearance.
If so many people are so concerned with their appearance, then perhaps that concern goes far deeper than vanity. The care of a human body ties people to the physical, social world they’ve been abruptly forced to leave behind. Stuck inside, people are left with just their existing tools and skills, trying to maintain their sense of self, or at least their eyebrows. With people’s faces, so go their identities.