February 5, 2019
A friend told me recently that she hates going to the hairdresser. She is an introvert and doesn’t feel comfortable engaging in the small talk required; nor does she appreciate the aggressively hands-on, eye-to-eye aspects of the encounter.
What’s more, she has been insulted twice by stylists: Once, a hairdresser stage-whispered to the professional working at the next chair, “Finally, she’s growing those bangs out!” Another time, a stylist picked up a lock of hair at the side of her head and reproved her loudly enough for everyone in the salon to hear, saying, “Do you see how your hair is thinning in this area?”
“How was I supposed to respond to those remarks, except by feeling shamed and even a little bit guilty?” she asked me.
She did not return to those stylists—or to their salons. But, clearly, what was supposed to be a relaxing, treat-yourself experience had turned into a distressing, even mortifying, time on the hot seat.
And certainly, she’s not the only one who enters a salon with timidity, unsure how the next session will go.
An article posted on the website Mic addressed this issue, noting that there are several major reasons why both women and men might avoid the hair parlor or the barbershop—among them:.
- Being forced to answer invasive questions: When it comes to women’s hair, a drastic cut may be interpreted as the result of a dramatic life change. But how we wear our hair and why we wear it that way is no one’s business but our own. “When I got my hair cut short the first time, I got so many questions about [whether] I was getting it cut for “any reason” (this never happened before). Like what do you expect me to say?” a reader told Mic, noting that the questions seemed intrusive and she didn’t want to answer them.
- When your stylist is straight-up rude: The comments that are made when a customer presents his or her body to a professional, even if it’s just for a haircut, can be borderline offensive. Molly, a 27-year-old who suffers from eczema flare-ups, told Mic, “When I was in middle school I had a hairdresser point out my dry and itchy scalp each time I saw her. She rudely addressed it, when, clearly, I knew I had a bad scalp from eczema.”. Molly always felt worse leaving the salon than she did before the appointment—no matter how her hair looked.
- When you’re not sure where to look: At nail salons, which also required intimacy—with the strangers who are cutting and polishing your nails (or even cleaning your feet)—the same issues can crop up. A reader told Mic she hates it, “When you see that your nail artist is trying to make conversation and you really don’t feel like socializing; so you force yourself to watch the crappy video that they are playing in the corner of the room.”
- When there’s uncomfortable touching: “Massages while I’m getting my hair washed—or after my nails are done—just freak me out,” said another. “It’s too much intimacy.”
- When you just can’t think of a single thing to say: One reader described the situation as, “When you and the stylist have nothing to talk about, so it feels like Christmas dinner with an aunt you never met.”
Many of these problems are exacerbated by social anxiety. “Social anxiety is fraught with people being afraid of being judged,” clinical psychologist Barbara Greenberg of Katonah, New York, told Mic. “Another really common and overpowering characteristic is that they become avoidant. So I would think in many cases, people would avoid doing things to enhance their appearance, like getting their hair colored or getting their nails done, because they would be afraid of being judged.”
And then there is the person on the other side of the equation—the stylist who is socially awkward, himself or herself. “I love regular clients, that I like, but if I get somebody new, sometimes I can tell they don’t want to talk; and that’s fine with me because most of the times I don’t feel like talking, but I will,” Kat, a New York City hairstylist, told the news outlet.
“Sometimes people ask me questions about myself that makes me anxious. Things that aren’t related to hair at all, but like ‘Where are you from?’ or ‘Do you have a boyfriend?’ and it feels like I’m being interviewed. I don’t want to talk about myself,” Kat said.
Then there are the oversharers: “Once, a fairly regular male client told me a story about how he got gonorrhea from the same girl three separate times!”
So, fixes? You can opt to switch stylists, as Molly did, after her negative experience discussing her exzema.
Finally, to avoid salons altogether, contact Glam Squad ,a service that brings the stylist straight to your home or apartment, so you can stay home and get your hair done in your sweats.
Research contact: @mic