Beauty is More Than Skin Deep: Looking Good and Feeling Better
It is often said that “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, but is there any real truth to that? The phrase itself merely means that beauty has no set characterization, depiction, or even value for that matter. In a beauty salon, hairdressers use the environment of the salon and their clear connection to the beauty culture to accommodate to each individual clients interpretation of beauty. I think this was best stated when Lennon remarked that, “In the beauty parlors, women not only accommodate to or go along with media-defined beauty, they also actively create beauty culture on their own terms to fulfill the needs of the women hope to achieve it” (pg. 295).The hairdressers at the beauty salon, lay a foundation that bridges the gap between those who strive for beauty and those who outline what beauty is; they become the path to those criterions while tending to the transformation on the outside as well as the inside without passing judgments.
I would like to start off first and foremost with the fact that women have always been recognized to devote a large portion of their time to beauty. Those women who are dedicated to portraying a certain image of themselves most frequently believe that with beauty everything else will come along such as success and being well liked by other. Women are completely and totally mesmerized by this notion presented by the media due to the overwhelming amount of bombardment of media messages that women are faced with on a daily basis in magazines and television advertisements with images of unrealistically attractive and powerful women, the complete package. Ridgeway reiterates this statement when she says, “These more contemporary films that follow this tradition as well, marking the beauty parlor as a place in which women get their hair done and let their hair down, a setting in which female knowledge, assumed unique and often essential, becomes privileged” (pg. 205). Women are brain washed with retouched images and made to desire the unattainable and left unfulfilled and seeking new ways to re-invent themselves by doing anything within their means to become what the media has designated to be the total package as a women. The women who has
it all and make it look effortless.
Moreover, in addition to marking space and proposing that attention to beauty culture can empower women, the beauty salon provides a space in which women can imagine and reinvent their relationships with each other. Ellingsaeter went on to reflect on the subject when she said that, “Inside the beauty salon, women rise above social and cultural hurdles to attain relationship with more depth, even with other women that may not be similar to one another in this type of environment ” (162). Women are transformed inside the beauty salon, these women regardless of their differences, they share one thing in common undoubtedly, a common beauty culture, women are be vulnerable and vocalize their dissatisfaction. These women came in the beauty salon for all the same reasons, the common goal of self-fulfillment and taking steps towards achieving the appearance of the unattainable image of perfection while continuing to compare themselves undoubtedly.
Furthermore on the opposite side of the spectrum women who report higher levels of social comparison are at a greater risk to develop extreme preoccupation with appearance and more inclined to do whatever it takes to emulate the images that they were exposed to (Snodgrass 158)”. Women tend to seek social acceptance for whatever lengths they were willing to go with the current preoccupying trend, if they took the time and energy into transformation they want the praise that we as women sometimes so desperately seek. As soon as a new trend is photographed, mentioned, or regarded in any form of media, women are quick to jump in their cars or do what it takes to make sure that they are not the last woman to jump on the bandwagon or the last person to know how women are now to be perceived. Women do not only compare themselves to celebrities but women will compare themselves to any friend, relative, neighbor anyone who can be seen as a potential threat to how they feel about themselves or someone we may envy because they have something that we only hope to achieve. Luckily for women everywhere, beauty salons are popping up everywhere to provide accommodations for women at any cost.
Is it possibly to put a price on being the perfect women and if so can you afford not to? When calculating overall costs of a trip to the beauty salon Amanatullah described this phenomena best when she said, “We all know how much we invest in our hair. From a quick wash and a full set of relaxers, extensions, colors, and designer cuts, you could purchase a car with all the money we spend at the beauty parlor” (pg. 256). It can be staggering realization the length and extremes or in better words the dollars women are willing to spend on their personal appearance. But on the other hand, can you really put a price on the sensation that you get and the satisfaction you feel after leaving your appointment at the beauty salon? I know that from my own personal experience, at times I have felt embarrassed once I am upfront at the register ready to pay for the services I got done. The only way I can put into words how I feel when I receive my bill once I am done, I feel like I got sucker punched. I know that it happened but I did not expect it and once I leave I start to realize it’s time to step out of what it seems its own world and get back to reality.
Good or bad the beauty salon is a small world for socialization and self-examination for some women. In addition to discussion of hair and beauty, many incidents involving family, friends, or pets (31%), current events including vacations/holidays (19%), health (14%), home and car (9%), employment/work (9%). Other categories included media and the internet (3%), religion (3%), exercise and recreation (2%), and shopping (2%) (Firestone 203) these statistics are just a small insight to the types of topics that are frequently discussed at beauty salons. When you are at a beauty salon there is this certain freedom, you have the ability to relax and take your daily stresses and converse you’re your hairdresser, someone who starts out as a total stranger with the utmost confidence that what you say will more than likely not be repeated. There is this inherent need to make your clientele happy, a certain code of conduct towards the client by all means necessary, even if it means having to go above and beyond your job and lending an empathetic ear without idle gossip after hours or within the beauty salon that may offend your client. It is a therapeutic self-indulgence by taking care of yourself both what’s on the inside and what’s on the inside. In the final breakdown, the symbolic beauty parlor provides women with female-generated views of beauty and serves as a place in which to regains ones strength for the struggles inherent in the world. In this world, there is an infinite amount of definitions for beauty. So in this war on beauty it is a relief to know at the end of the day you can find solace in the beauty salon.
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Snodgrass, S. E. (1992) Further Effects of Role Versus Gender on Interpersonal Sensitivity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, volume 62 issue 1, pages 154-158.