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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at VCU chapter.

In December of 2023, TikTok user and hairstylist Jordan Palmer, who goes by the username @jpalmhairdressing, posted a video featuring them having a consultation with a client. A tiny moment at the beginning, wherein Palmer confirms the client’s consent to having their hair touched, became the subject of ridicule on the internet for weeks on end. It has been months since the video was posted, but I constantly find myself thinking about that mass reaction, and what it says about our society as a whole.


We’ve been generally aware of the concept of consent as a society for quite a few years now, but situations like this make me question how much we actually implement the concept of consent in our daily lives. How much have we truly progressed in that regard if simply asking for consent can incite public outrage?

Consent, in the most basic sense, is the permission or approval for something to happen. In the context of public discourse, the concept of consent largely revolves around sexual interactions. The topic of “consent” comes up regularly in work training, college seminars, sex ed. classes, etc.; as a society, we have come to associate the very concept with sexual assault – the worst possible scenario. Which points me to the flaw in our public perception of what consent really means in everyday life.

Consent in relation to sexual interactions is extremely important to discuss, but I would argue it is just as important to implement consent in everyday life. At the heart of consent is respecting one another’s boundaries. 

Much like saying sorry to the person waiting patiently behind you when you take too long washing your hands at a public restroom, reaffirming consent, when it is very obviously implied, is, at the very least, common courtesy. You are entitled to take however long you need to wash your hand in the bathroom; someone waiting for you so they can use the sink next does not necessarily warrant an apology. But saying sorry is simply a way to acknowledge their patience. It allows room for you and the stranger to exchange smiles and maybe a conversation. 

Going in for a haircut is an obvious implication of giving consent, but asking the question gives the client an opportunity to set boundaries if they need to. If they were previously apprehensive because of past trauma, voicing consent could soften their anxiety going into a potentially triggering situation. 

Community and Convenience

One common criticism of Palmer’s consultation is that the conversation was “exhausting,” with remarks like “just cut their hair…,” which really stuck out to me. 

I can’t help but relate this sentiment to convenience culture. Our addiction to instant gratification slowly took precedence over our natural need for connection. We used to physically go into stores and look through potentially hundreds of pieces of clothing on a rack to buy new clothes we liked. Most of the time we went with our friends, or our moms, or our siblings, and the act of buying new clothes became a whole day-long activity. We interacted with another person, exchanging hellos and thank yous at every store we bought something from. Now, that entire ordeal turned into a few taps on our phones, often alone, always without having to interact with a person on the other end of our purchase. With TikTok shops and swipe-up instagram ads, this act of consumerism is now incorporated into our daily lives; the convenience of it all is enough to look past our overconsumption. A trip to the mall for a shopping spree was a luxury, it was a chance to be fully immersed in the experience of buying things. We remembered everything we bought that day, because we tried on clothes and gossiped in dressing rooms, and did each other’s makeup with the testers at Sephora. Now, we thrive on the thrill of being surprised by a new package at the door every single day. It’s an easy way to ensure that no matter how bleak your week has been, you can look forward to a package coming. In fact, the more you order, the more likely you are to experience that gratification of receiving products at your doorstep. Shopping is no longer a way to bond with each other, or even something we truly experience anymore; it’s just something we do, no longer a luxury.

Now, how exactly does this relate to the TikTok hairstylist and their viral consultation? 

I wanna highlight the notion that it was “exhausting” especially, because in my opinion, it points to the ways that convenience culture is changing the way we interact with each other. This whole process of relying on the convenient option in a way stripped the humanity of our interactions. 

Sure, shopping online is the convenient option, but convenience was never our priority when it came to shopping. The act of buying things became our primary reason for shopping, when before, it came secondary to the experience of, say, going to the mall.

To the TikTok commenters, arguably some of the most impacted by overconsumption and convenience culture, the conversation before the haircut is simply a hassle. In the TikTok video, it was an uncut four-minute exchange, hardly anything that would be considered “exhausting,” but to a culture obsessed with convenience and instant gratification, having a human interaction with the person providing you with a service is now “pestering.” Humanizing your client by taking the extra step to ask for consent to touch their hair is “doing too much.” Our culture is changing very rapidly, some would say too much for our own good. I can’t help but wonder how our culture will continue to change as a result. The more convenient it is to get things done with a few taps, the less we need each other. And eventually, the less we tolerate the human interaction that comes as a natural result of accessing goods and services.

Political Science student, interested in Feminism & Gender Analysis, media, and especially their intersection.