I’m sitting under blowing air waiting for my fuchsia fingers nails and mocha toe nails to dry. As I’m counting the minutes for the wait to be over, I look around the salon. And what I see is quite inspiring. A group of young Chinese women — clearly relatively new to the country given their limited abilities in English — taking pride in their beauty efforts; a female Chinese business owner scurrying around to make sure her newly minted shop is in order and her patrons are comfortable; and an array of women getting pampered. The patrons range in age and background. Near me is a woman of Japanese descent, a blonde mother and daughter duo, and an older, elegant African-American woman.
This salon is snapshot of the American dream. Immigrants hustling their way up on the economic ladder, a woman-owned business thriving, and a mix of women from all walks of life sharing the age-old ritual of beautification. We may all speak different languages or have different jobs and family lives, but we all have a similar goal: to be beautiful, happy and successful.
There’s something about beauty and the rituals that surround it that breaks down barriers. I’m not saying we’re all equal in our beauty or that we all feel as beautiful as the next person. But when it comes to the rituals of beauty, there is air of democracy. We all enjoy being pampered and made to feel beautiful. And we all recognize that beauty gives us confidence and a degree of happiness. Moreover, for generations, the beauty business has offered women opportunities for growth and success. Think Estee Lauder, Helena Rubenstein and the like. These are women who, a century ago, made it on their own because of the beauty industry.
The next time we go to a salon for a massage or a manicure, let’s revel in the pampering and fun we derive, but let’s also celebrate the inspiration that these spaces offer as well.