An Aging Stylist

I know it's probably not hip to speak of ones age, particularly a woman, but I have styling hair for 27 years, some days I lose count, but things are changing in the industry, and I don't know how I am fairing. I now wear readers, and yes, they hang on the tip of my nose, which ages me, maybe, 20 years.  That makes me 67 years old.  I could probably stand to wear glasses, which would age me still, maybe 10 years, which would make me 57 years old.  But I can't admit it to myself yet, that I may need glasses, or do.

The stylists around me, particularly, the apprentices paint their bodies with tattoos.  I look like plain, square, Jane, because I am tattoo-less, a rarity in California, except maybe if your 57 years old and need glasses.  But even my one client who is in her 70's got her ankle tattooed.

These same apprentices wear the lowest cut blouses and tops, and they are full in figure.  I about died when one of them came with the cell phone tucked right there in her cleavage, and she was sitting at the front desk, which if you stood there, you were right on top of the situation, no where for your eyes to go, but there.

High heels abound in the salon.  Platforms, skinny heels, all shapes and sizes, 3 inches height the minimum.  My varicose veins hurt just looking at them.

The conversation I overhear in the chair feels disingenuous and gives our industry a bad name.  Sexism is still alive and well. Who's fault is it?  The hairstylist who puts up with it, and allows it?  Or the perpetrator?  We all have our part.

We have music days at the salon, which doesn't always work out.  Each stylist gets a couple of days a month to choose what they want to listen to all day.  Hard rock and and some really foul hip-hop is what is played by some. Okay, now I feel I am unpopular, and not very hip.

The sense of entitlement that seems to go along with the music, the tattoos, the cleavage is most unbearable.  Laziness and excuses abound as explanations for what is a fundamental lack of respect for themselves and their jobs, as if to say, "If I fool you, maybe I will fool myself."  They are only fooling themselves.

Do I have their respect?  I don't know, I barely know what to say to them.  I do my work, and am very absorbed when clients sit in my chair.  I know I do need to communicate with them, I'm sure they must have much to teach me, if I would only open to them.  But I am unsympathetic to their stories, so I keep my mouth shut.

I don't think I am fairing well with these changes.  But I love what I do.  I enjoy where I work.  Our salon is better than most.  The change that needs to happen is within myself, clearly, this is where I have control.  Although, I can't remember where to begin.  The change that it would require of me is painstaking, and humbling.

Posted on January 23, 2008 and filed under boundaries, Definition of Humility, Hairstyling, Salon Life.