Beauty Convos with Gad #3: What Are We Going to Take Forward After The Crisis?

I had the privilege of catching up with my good friend and beauty stylist to the stars, Gad Cohen.  I totally scrapped my intended “look” for the chat (a groovy headscarf) and played up the moment.  A few hours prior to our chat, I decided to wash my hair and then ran into a meeting that lasted much longer than anticipated.  I was left with only a few minutes to prep.  So I leaned into it.  I didn’t blow dry my hair but, instead, worked with the au natural waviness and fullness.

Why am I telling you all this?  Because it became the theme of our discussion: embracing the NOW.

Gad and I kicked off our chat discussing the New York Times article: What Is Beauty Now by Mara Altman.  Altman shares a number of different opinions around our responses to the beauty constraints during this crisis, and what’s going to happen when it’s all over.  She describes the sheer panic people are experiencing over their gray hairs and how they are jumping out of their seats in anticipation of salons opening up.  While others, she writes, are embracing their new-found liberation from beauty maintenance.  When it comes to the moment we can go back to normal living, the article shares the concern that beauty brands will shame us into trying to get plucked, primped and preened by pointing out how we’ve all gone to pot. But the article raises the opinions of others — like that of Gad — that we will be a lot more empathetic and embracing of others’  appearances.  And that we will all come out better from this experience.

I tend towards the “glass half full side of things” and agree with the last sentiment.  Given that Gad is part of the beauty industry that Altman refers to, I asked him if he agrees that people will be convinced that they will be crappy about themselves and succumb to the beauty industry’s call for transformation.  He said absolutely no.  First, he believes people will reject that type of marketing and even rebel against it.  Second, he, himself, looks forward to playing with the changes that we are all experiencing — the gray strands, the longer hair, the grown out eyebrows.  The opposite of using shame, he will greet people’s evolving beauty with love, excitement and creativity. 

This discussion led us to anticipate what’s going to change for HIM when people start coming back to his atelier.  Will he be doing anything differently given what he’s learned from this crisis? Of course he will continue to do what he’s always been doing, that is, truly understand his clients — their personalities, lifestyles, aspirations and dreams — in order to create the best styles for them.  But he believes that we will all be much more focused on the NOW, i.e., how we are feeling at that moment.  In the past, we may have asked our stylists for looks that will work in different future scenarios.  We would think about what will grow out well in the long run or what has versatility.  But our sense of the future is so unsure now.  Who would have expected to be stuck working from home for months on end?  Who would have thought travel was off limits?  Who would have thought we wouldn’t be socializing or that our major source of connection would be a small screen?  We are not saying that we won’t be planning for days ahead but we will have a greater appreciation for the NOW — what we need, feel, want, expect in this moment.

Boy, am I looking forward to that NOW moment

Convo with Beauty Maven, Gad Cohen: Why Beauty Matters More Than Ever

It’s been awhile since my last confession…ooops, I mean Beautyskew post.  Like so many of you, the Covid situation hit me like a ton of bricks.  By March 2nd, my middle son had to be quarantined. His school was the first to be shut down in the country due to kids being exposed to one of the first known carriers of the virus in New York.  WFH became my reality early on. In addition to having five of us in the house, including my son home early from his year abroad, work has been the busiest it’s ever been.  So thinking about beauty took a back seat as I tried to adjust.  I barely had time to go to the bathroom let alone wash my hair, lol.  

But as I have begun to settle into a new rhythm, my need for beauty has resurfaced — big time.  I’ve been watching shows and reading more articles than I probably have time for around beauty topics. Making the Cut with Heidi Klum had me salivating.  I’ve been trying to figure out how I can express my love of fashion through a small screen — color, color, color.  And, as I run in and out of the only social space I venture into — the supermarket — fully covered (from sunglasses to mask to gloves), I’ve been challenged by how I can still maintain some sense of femininity. Sure, I spend 95% of my brain power focused on business strategy or my kids’ food needs, but there’s still that 5% that craves beauty — expressing it, seeing it, and talking about it.

So my good friend and celebrity-beauty-stylist, Gad Cohen, and I decided to begin discussing it — live — online.  For our first IG Live chat, Gad and I delved into why beauty matters NOW more than ever.  Beauty inspires us, fuels our sense of creativity, and enlivens us — all things we need during this crazy time.  Beauty reminds us that we are creative and imaginative enough to change our circumstances.  Maybe as individuals we can’t develop a vaccine overnight.  But we should have faith in the brilliant scientists who can.  And, even as individuals, we can change our situations to some degree.  It’s often constraints like the ones we’re facing that force us to come up with new solutions and amazing new ideas — from new ways to light our faces “just so” on camera all the way to new career ideas.  In fact, when I speak about creativity to large audiences during “normal times,” I challenge audiences to seek constraints to make them MORE creative. Gad, for example, can’t work right now.  He cuts and styles hair for a living.  That just ain’t happening now, as much as it pains us! But he isn’t sitting on his butt all day long. Instead, he’s focusing his creative energies on finally learning how to develop online videos and chats. The result? After Covid is over, he will have his own mini production studio.  In fact, he and I want to video tape our chats as he cuts and styles my hair in real time!

We may be inclined to ignore our need for beauty — after all, people around us are truly suffering.  I’m appealing to you all NOT to do that.  We should seek out beauty.  It nourishes us emotionally and fuels us creatively.

Our discussions have evolved over the course of the few we’ve done.  I’ll be sharing the key insights and videos from those chats in the coming posts.  Stay tuned!

Weekend Observations: Be Careful What You Ask For

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My daughter couldn’t contain herself today.  At the last minute, we found a way to squeeze in a haircut for her.  Why was she so gleeful? Well, I have to admit she hasn’t gotten her hair cut since LAST YEAR!
But it was more than that.
She was excited to get her haircut last year too, but it was for a different reason.  Last year she pretty much wanted to reduce the painful combing sessions that she had to endure thanks to her long, curly hair.
This year she so looked forward to this moment because she wanted to look pretty, grown up, or cool, i.e., the typical desires most 7 year-old girls want to fulfill .  She didn’t have to voice this.  It was clear.
I have looked forward to these types of moments since her birth.  I’m not so much referring to her getting a haircut, but to those girly experiences during which we can bond over.  I too was excited for her to get a more mature haircut.
And, yet, I felt uncomfortable … no, more like conflicted.  While I’ve lightly bemoaned my daughter’s tomboyishness, I’ve also secretly felt some relief that she’s not jumping into the realm of beauty so fast.
Serendipitously, as Laila and I were reading Ramona And Her Mother a little later in the day, we landed on the chapter when Ramona and her sister, Beezus, get haircuts.  Beezus ends up hating her new do’ and admits through her tears:”I j-just wanted to look nice…I know th-that what I do is more important than how I look, but I just wanted to look nice.”  Her mother responds:” Of course you do…no matter what we say, we all want to look nice.”
Ramona’s mother reminded me of something. It’s in our nature to want to look beautiful. We live our whole lives in our bodies and we know that we were given them to cultivate and love, rather than to ignore. I know that as a mother, not only can I not avoid this topic, but it’s my duty to prepare her for it. My daughter needs to know that beauty should be empowering and affirming versus a way to get attention or cover for her insecurities.
We can’t avoid our daughters’ desire and compulsion to look pretty. Like Ramona’s mother, we need to embrace them and show our young ones that their beauty is wonderful.

When Will Hair Bias Ever End?!

In an apparent attempt to appeal to women, the Wall Street Journal published an article on the many ways we seek to straighten our frizzy locks.  Why is this a WSJ-worthy piece?  Well, we business women, especially those handling financial matters, must be seen as tidy and put together.
Now wait a second.  Does anyone have a problem with this?
Who decided that curly hair is “ungroomed”? Even the title of the article, “The Taming of the Curl,” pissed me off.  The implication, of course, is that curly hair (ah, dare I say ethnic hair?) is untamed, wild and crazy.
For the sake of argument, let’s say you buy into this theory, i.e., straight hair equals solidity and conservatism.  I can kinda understand wanting to see my financial advisor with a straightened do.  After all, I’m as cautious about my money as the next gal, so of course I want to know that whoever’s handling it dots their i’s and crosses their t’s.
But at the same time, I want to know that this person is always thinking ahead and has creative solutions to my needs.  If straight hair represents solidity and conservatism, then shouldn’t curly hair represent innovative thinking and new ideas?  So, in the end, isn’t curly hair as or more desirable?
The thousands of dollars we spend a year on our hair is evidence of how critical our do’s are to our self-confidence and work lives.  No question, hair matters.  But why must certain styles communicate professionalism and competency?  As women living in an ethnically diverse, open-minded culture, shouldn’t we be passed these old-fashioned judgments?