The emotional aspects of salon work have shown hairdressers and beauty workers act like makeshift counsellors for many clients. The salon is not just about makeovers: it is a space of touch and talk. For some, the salon might be one of the only places they encounter regular verbal and physical contact. Increasingly, salon workers are being recognized as an important channel between members of the community and services such as family violence shelters.
This means that beyond technical hair and beauty skills, working in the industry involves listening, and managing the emotions of clients. They’re great listeners, therapy is expensive, so get a haircut! Salon workers are likely to have clients disclose intimate partner violence to them at some point. But workers I spoke with also mentioned a huge array of different issues clients bring up. Marriage breakdown, mental health, suicidal ideation, gender transition and job loss were among the client issues reported by workers. In the context of COVID-19, however, social distancing complicates the situation for the beauty industry.
Photo Credit: Yasaman Dehmiyani / NVP Images
– (2020 Grant recipients of Pulitzer Center)