While chisme is a big part of our culture, Pope Francis is not a fan. On more than one occasion, the pontiff has spoken out about the dangers that chismeando can bring about, calling it a terrorist that can kill. But recently, he may have gone one step too far when he asked hairdressers and barbers to stop gossiping with their clients.
“Practice your profession in a Christian style, treating customers with kindness and courtesy, offering them a good word and encouragement,” he said. “And avoid succumbing to the temptation of chatter which is easily associated with your field of work.”
For many communities of color, chisme is seen as a way to heal, and this is particularly true at salons and barbershops, where clients oftentimes form close relationships with their barbers and hairdressers. Chisme can certainly be used in bad ways – spreading rumors about people or sharing someone’s personal information – but it can also be used in positive ways. Through chisme, people can unpack difficult experiences and bond with others.
Regardless of what Papa Franciso advices, it’s unlikely that people will stop gossiping at salons.