The Beauty Industry: Gender, Culture, Pleasure

By Paula Black | Go to book overview

Chapter 4

The hidden labour of beauty

I don't know whether this sounds a very sexist thing to say but in reality it's an extremely good career for a woman. I think it's ideal for women because we utilise all those intuitive skills that we have and that we do, so I think its ideal.

(Amanda BT)

The term 'beauty therapy' suggests a conjunction of ideas incorporating a transformation involving mind, body or both. Both beauty and therapy also contain the implicit assumption of labour-the labour of the body and the creation of a sense of self for both the therapist and client. It is useful to examine the consequences of the claims of both beauty work and therapy for the professional status and working life of therapists. In particular I will examine the role that 'emotional labour' (Hochschild, 1983), 'aesthetic labour' (Witz et al., 2003) or 'body work' (Tyler and Hancock, 2001) play in their work. I will also examine the role of particular types of treatments, specifically those which I have described as 'grooming', in the working lives of beauty salon clients, and link these treatments to a postulated aestheticisation of the workplace (Adkins and Lury, 1999, 2000; Adkins, 2001).

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