I don’t think it’s just me that took exception to the way beauty services and salons were spoken about in parliament last week as MPs announced that they’d remain shut while pubs opened. As an economy, the beauty industry delivers very much needed revenue (and plenty of it) and if pubs can open, there’s no reason why at least certain aspects of salon treatments can’t. The attitude in parliament was that beauty is considered amusing somehow – a frivolity perhaps – when they’re really anything but.
We don’t shout about our beauty salons in the same way we celebrate our hairdressers, for example. We aren’t forthcoming when it comes to vein zapping, forehead smoothing or upper lip bleaching, never mind taking to social media to say how delighted we are with our wax. We’re happy enough to show all of Instagram our new ombre dye but rarely do we see the results of a professional armpit threading. And yet, on Google search, there were more results (3,450,000,000) for waxing procedures than there were for hair styles (3,440,000,000).
We are very conditioned to keep our route to ‘beauty’ a secret – as something not to be shared with others. All the rolling, the zapping, the needling, the lasering – it’s not shared in the same way as trimming or dyeing and we need to ask why. There’s something, I think, that’s perceived as shameful in not being effortless – whether that’s effortlessly youthful, effortlessly hair free or effortlessly smooth skinned but we are all in the same boat here.
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In the scheme of things I’m quite low maintenance – I have Botox twice a year to keep my lids up (I am not ready to decide whether I want to ditch eyeshadow for good and waiting for that moment to naturally occur – although I thought it would during lockdown it actually hasn’t), Profhilo for the glow, again a couple of times a year, and everything else I do myself. Although I made such a hash of my underarms last time I do think it’s time to hand that particular job (and bikini line) to a professional. But while nothing is a secret, I never think to mention it in the same way I would a new dress or shoes.
Salons usually exist off a high street – that positioning is chosen so that you can make your entrance or exit in the most discreet way (while still being able to park) so your effortlessness won’t be readily discovered. Some treatments have been more ‘normalised’ – such as brows and nails – by being open to view in department stores or glass fronted shops and while of course personally, I’m not keen to allow viewers to witness my facial, neither am I comfortable with keeping what we do and why a secret to the point that MPs laugh at us in parliament.
Those women (and it usually is) that suction, pluck, pummel, strip and knead – we owe a lot to them and they don’t deserve to be our unspoken secrets. Especially now. If you can, please sign the on-line petition to get over 40,000 salons with approx. 300,000 employees able to operate at a safe level open and earning again. It’s HERE.
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