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  • Ella Noonan

Salons, Sexism, and a Large Serving of Hypocrisy

Whilst as a nation we are all currently starring in one of the most surreal, and seemingly never ending, disaster movies; things are beginning to edge back to the realms of normality.

Yes, the 4th of July saw the opening of restaurants, and hairdressers alike. Following up from the recent return of ‘non-essential’ shops, the ongoing conversation of who’s able to deem what is or isn’t essential, is still on the tip of all our tongues. It’s an ever evolving debate, originating as hairdressers vs salons, now escalating into why it’s acceptable to have a piss-up in Wetherspoons, but not to have your eyebrows threaded by someone in full PPE.

Many businesses within the beauty industry were hotly anticipating the green light to open on the 4th of July, so it was no surprise that many were incredibly disappointed to find out they had to remain closed once more. Whilst it’s Widely understood that getting your lashes or nails done is no essential exploit, I’m struggling to understand where the line is between this and trimming your tresses?

And then it hit me. The difference is men.

“Whaat? Sexism, in 2020? Surely not!?” I hear an array of male voices exclaim from the seats of the barbers with their freshly cut hair, (or not-so-fresh in Boris’ case). But hear me out, whilst there’s a very loose argument that salons may require closer contact, these are businesses that even before COVID-19 had to uphold high levels of sanitisation. Similarly, tattoo and piecing parlours have also been hit with the news of not being able to open, despite being exceptionally clean in order to function on a day to day basis. But the common thread tying these businesses together, is the fact that a bunch of white Etonian men in suits, have absolutely no regard for them as relevant businesses.

Maybe you think I’m being unfair – well if that’s the case, take a look at this video of of BJ himself, unable to control his juvenile jibes and laughter, when the notion of opening beauty salons is reviewed. The bellowing laughs and downright mockery of predominantly female-owned businesses has an eerily dystopian feel to it that just didn’t sit right with me. It doesn’t exactly take a rocket scientist to notice the abundance of testosterone in that cursed video, which of course highlights a wider problem with parliament as a whole; aside from the overall lack of empathy displayed by this room full of men. ---

Then came the 13th of July’s announcement. Low and behold, salons can open, hoorah. They opened their books and appointments came flooding in, inundated with messages, there was an overwhelming sense of excitement throughout the beauty industry. And then there wasn’t.

On further inspection, salons, beauticians, and makeup artists became aware of the ‘no facial treatments’ rule. So, whilst salons were physically allowed to open, the majority of treatments were not permitted; once again a metaphorical slap in the face for those in the beauty business – as of course a real one would be unhygienic.

But this is where our un-plucked eyebrows really started to raise, because people started to notice some rather peculiar discrepancies in these rules. For instance, just as people began to begrudgingly accept the fact that maybe there was some logic in no treatments on the face - men across the country were getting their scruffy-looking beards trimmed. Not to mention the thousands of people, compactly gathering together outside pubs across the UK. Even clutching at straws, I’m at a loss for a possible explanations of how this is anything other than blindingly obvious sexism? If anyone dared suggest it’s unprofessional to have a bushy beard at work; I can only respond that it’s unprofessional to allow so many female business owners and entrepreneurs within the beauty industry, penniless for months, with not even an inkling of when they can return to work. ---

At last a date has been set, from the 17th of July it was announced that facial treatments can resume from August 1st. Whilst this is some long awaited good news, and I for one am thoroughly excited to resemble a human once more, I can’t help but still feel infuriated for all the women who have been so greatly let down by this government. It’s not about vanity or self-indulgence, it’s about a total disregard and disrespect to businesses that don’t serve a purpose to the type of men running this country.


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