Hairdresser or Hair Stylist or Hair Artist, whatever you want to call them and no matter how you call them, the stereotypes and connotations around this industry are interesting. Superficial, shallow, stupid, bimbo, fake, bitchy. I personally have my own prejudices that I am trying to work through. I have often struggled within the community and dreaded interactions with hairdressers sometimes, despite having met many wonderful and amazing people in the industry! I hated going to a salon and didn’t for over 10 years.
Crazy right!?! I do realise!
I know it comes from being told many times that it was a career for “stupid girls” and the opinion of other people may have somehow rubbed off on me. Anyway, I have many many reasons for despising the industry surrounding my trade. Notice I say MY trade? Because we are unique and our experiences and learnings have all been different. Mine were largely intuitive, self-taught and tons of practice. It is one of the most ancient of jobs, and I am sure the revere of the trade has changed over the centuries and varies in different cultures respectively. It reportedly has the highest levels of job satisfaction, which I can understand why. I find it incredibly rewarding and interesting meeting people and making them feel good about themselves. Furthermore, I believe that it is an animalistic and intrinsic part of humanity…essential for our health, wellbeing and just keeping bad bacteria at bay. Blue Planet II showed us the turtles getting groomed by the little fishes, primates pick off bugs and detangle each other, other animals rub against trees etc etc.
Working as a hairdresser is really empowering. You can be a single, self-employed Mum and work as and when you want and fit it around your own life. Working with other women in a salon, although often turbulent and bitchy I can imagine, can also be nurturing and lovely when with the right people. “In the olden days” women made trips to the salon because it was a social activity, I think that is something we are lacking a bit nowadays and why I would like to host more social events at the Salon…when I have time………. -_- Elderly people too find it a sociable occasion, sometimes you know you are the only person they might talk to all week. Then there are kids, don’t get me started and teenagers. The spectrum of conversation throughout a day can be amusing!
Meeting people, finding out about their lives sometimes is really inspiring, thought-provoking and beautiful. Sometimes it sucks, not every interaction with every person you meet is going to be a positive one, so neither will it be cutting their hair! It can also be a very intimate thing at times, touching people’s scalps and faces, washing hair. Masseuses discuss the ways to protect yourself from negative energy in their trade, and while speaking to one of my clients they brought it to my attention. They were right, some people who may be sensitive to energies may find this can be an issue. The mental energy required to maintain a positive conversation throughout the day with several different people can be quite draining sometimes too. I found the same when Teaching…it is exhausting. I guess that is how most people feel though about their job sometimes. However, as a Hairdresser, you may at times feel like a Counsellor and discuss deeper issues. You recognise people’s insecurities and they open up about their worries. You may have a client every month or so for many many years. I see my clients out and about all the time too in my community and even at gigs, and it is great sometimes! Obviously sometimes not so…but at least I don’t have to worry about them seeing me drunk or making a fool of myself because I am not in a Teacher/Student scenario!
I have used it as a side line for pocket money throughout my life, during university, living abroad, travelling, and even while I was teaching I cut my colleagues hair, and all my friends and friends of friends. Doing it full time now is very different, and I see how it gets when you are on your feet all day, getting a bad back from leaning over the sink, not eating enough, not getting a break and staying late some evenings. Perhaps because a dye job has not turned out the way it should and you need to find some solution so this person doesn’t want to kill you for charging them £100 for your valuable time and skill (even though it is not your fault).
One of the main reasons for a lot of the narrow-mindedness within the industry is, as usual, EDUCATION. Hairdressers in the UK are not taught how to deal with curly hair or afro hair. This has resulted in total segregation, and I do NOT understand it. Sure we all have preferences and differing skills but…why isn’t it taught? You are doing a HAIR course, not a “Caucasian straight hair” course! I have heard of mixed girls walking into salons and being shouted at across the room “We don’t do YOUR kind of hair in here”…her hair wasn’t even a tight curl type. I find it utterly disgusting. This just sounds like apartheid times right there. Nope, “Great” Britain 2018! But I just don’t get why they rarely seem to teach how to cut curls, or encourage using an array of techniques. White girls can have crazy curly hair too! lol. Anyway, I am really loving the movement of reclaiming of Natural hair that has been happening for our black sisters. It has certainly contributed to it being more acceptable for many people to embrace their natural hair patterns, and a surge in natural and homemade hair product recipes and tutorials online. Thank you for leading the way.
Also connected to education are the capitalist big pharma cosmetic companies that have brainwashed us all into slathering ourselves in their toxic concoctions on a daily basis. They have infiltrated the “education” and pumped money into producing little sheep who believe absolutely everything they are told and don’t research anything for themselves. I know that sounds extreme, but it is true. They are indoctrinated by salesmen for big brands with big money. We are wasting money, lots and lots and lots of it on things that are actually harming us, poisoning us, giving us skin conditions and cancer and respiratory issues…when we have the things we need to be absolutely clean and radiant in our kitchen cupboards and growing along the cycle paths and parks in our city!
Right now, an awakening is happening and people are becoming a lot more receptive to these ideas than a few years ago. Large online groups talking about No-Poo and Curly Girl methods are amazing in my opinion. A fountain of sharing knowledge and experiences and tips and tricks. However people still struggle, again probably because of education. These are things that should be taught in primary school, it would be a one off few hours teaching kids how they can look after their hairs at home properly. Along with gardening, cooking, how to pay taxes and mortgages and how to obtain clean water if you are stranded ever…just general life skills would be great! Self-sufficiency, self-reliance and self-care are not things that seem to be of importance for some reason.
So, as usual when something starts being seen as a fad, like veganism and more natural approaches are right now, companies jump on the bandwagon and start their SLS free, paraben free, and using buzzwords like organic and natural. Often they are anything but. Ammonia free dyes use other ingredients that are just as bad, if not worse. Lush and Faith are some of the harshest detergents I have had the joy of using on my hair (and for a long time too!). But you just think its ok, it has “Nature” in the name. The general public has no idea what the ingredients are, and to be fair you need a chemistry degree to really understand…but still even then, I have met chemists who don’t. However, we do live in the age of being able to research pretty much anything at the touch of a button and people still ask silly questions all the time!
I feel the poignant lyrics in this song are suitable for many of the themes here… My favourite, All Sisters unite song here…. if you really like it or any other tunes from the album 10% of the sales from this female vocal led Dub album go to Womankind charity. Or you can donate directly to Womankind if you don’t like great bass, rhythm and conscious lyrics with a meaningful message. 😉