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Beautician and the border wall

Beautician and the border-wall
UP graphic by Claire Robertson


I had the good fortune of finding a talented brow technician, and I never want her to leave my life. A brow technician is a beauty professional that can tweeze, wax, thread, tint, or any combination of these eyebrow treatments. For the sake of this story and her privacy, I will refer to her as “Christy.”

I met Christy when she was working at a department store brow bar, and I have loyally followed her through her journey to open her own salon. She plays an important role in my beauty routine — she makes me feel like I have Cara Delevingne’s eyebrows when I was naturally blessed with a Bert from Sesame Street look.

We have a nice routine during my appointments, we fill each other in about our lives since we’ve seen each other, and I try to pretend that waxing does not hurt.

At my last appointment, we had a lot of catching up to do since the holidays. I am reclined, spotlight on my face, hot wax is on my brow, and Christy asks, “So, what do you think of this government shut down?”

We don’t normally speak about politics, so I was surprised when she introduced the topic. She probably asked me this because I am studying journalism, so I pay close attention to national stories. But I did not give her a professional or intelligent response.

I started humming awkwardly and said, “Oh man…, I don’t know where you stand on this issue.”

I know her family immigrated from Mexico, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she is not in favor of the Republican plan for border security including a $5.7 billion wall.

At the time of writing, Congress still has not reached an agreement on border security, making this the longest government American shutdown. The most recent news includes Congress voting on two opposing plans: to fund the wall and temporarily protect some immigrant children, or to reopen the government without funding for the wall. It seems like Congress is desperate to make a deal but unable to compromise party priorities.

Christy and I chatted briefly about different government employees we knew, currently working without pay. We sympathized with their hardship, and we agreed it is tragic that families are struggling.

“Non-essential” government employees, like those working to inspect  food, secure airports and enforce the law, are either not working at all or working without pay. These government workers are struggling to provide for their families, turning to food banks and other charities since they have missed two paychecks so far.

Christy mentioned she was uncomfortable about the efforts to stop Mexican immigrants, specifically.

“Because people are coming from other countries, too,” she said. “Like Asian countries, but no one cares about that.”

I spoke too quickly and said that this focus on Mexican immigrants was purposeful, and the dialogue surrounding the reasons why are racist.

I know I spoke too candidly because Christy looked uncomfortable and stopped talking about the shutdown after that.

If I could go back to the conversation, I would avoid the controversy. While I feel the president’s proposal is a product of his deeply held ego, that’s not how I want to discuss issues with my friends.

I wanted to remind her that the president ran his campaign with the promise that this project would be at no cost to the American people. When Mexico refused to pay for the wall, President Trump said last month  that the wall would pay for itself, as a result of new trade agreements. Obviously, this was not true because now he has handed a $5.7 billion bill to Congress and tried to terrify the American people into compliance with a national address calling this a “crisis.” Democrats insist the wall will not work and refuse to fund it.

I am concerned that the president seems to be taking notes from my favorite episode of “The Twilight Zone” called “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street.” In that episode, a neighborhood is driven to riot after a child suggests that a power outage could be the result of alien invasion. The similarities are too close — a fear of outsiders invading, neighbor turned against neighbor, and, in the end, they become the very thing they fear.

The crisis I am concerned with is that there is an unchecked ego in the White House that would sacrifice the public’s trust to manufacture and weaponize fear. For what purpose could this serve other than to intimidate Americans into submission? National Public Radio reported 800,000 government workers are without pay. I feel these people are being used as pawns as both sides are lamenting their position, but these workers don’t have the power to restore their own jobs.

We need to hold politicians accountable. We must call our representatives and tell them we are not scared — we are empowered. The information is one search engine result away. We are speaking on behalf of our communities which are made great by diversity, and we are voting with these issues in mind.

I wish I had not spoken so thoughtlessly in my conversation with Christy. I respect her, I do not know her political leanings, and I worry I wasted the opportunity to discuss our experiences and thoughts. In the future, I want to lead with the facts and supplement with my opinion, instead of putting my foot in my mouth before we had a chance to understand each other.

It has been a few weeks since this conversation, almost time to make another appointment. Maybe I’ll get the chance to overcome this awkwardness and learn something new about my friend — because she’s really so good with these brows.

Story by Claire Robertson, UP contributor

Category: Opinion