The Beauty Industry: Gender, Culture, Pleasure

By Paula Black | Go to book overview

Chapter 6

'You feel better when you leave'

Some concluding comments

I: Do you think it [beauty salon use] is a positive thing in your life then?

Bridget: Yes, probably because it makes me feel better. I don't go there to be squeezed and tucked and pinched with the hope that one day I might look like Christy Brinkley or something like that. I just like shutting my eyes for half an hour while somebody messes around so you feel better when you leave. It's nice to have that little bit of attention.

I have enjoyed the time spent in beauty salons. I have also enjoyed the treatments I have received there, although this enjoyment has been tempered by a researcher's eye. Some of the treatment experiences have been relaxing, rejuvenating episodes in my life. Others have verged on the ridiculous. On one occasion as I lay on my back with my legs pulled up and a young woman I had never met before applied hot wax to my thighs only to remove it painfully seconds later, the full impact of the beauty industry became apparent. What powerful force could have persuaded me of the need to undergo such a procedure, while at the same time breaking every rule of polite social engagement? Perhaps only something connected to the intimacies and uncertainties of the body could have placed me, and millions of other women, in such a ridiculous position.

The beauty industry as we understand it today is a comparatively recent historical product. While both men and women have always

-179-

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The Beauty Industry: Gender, Culture, Pleasure
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements viii
  • Chapter 1 - 'Ordinary People Come Through Here' 1
  • Chapter 2 - Inventing Beauty 20
  • Chapter 3 - Just Because It Feels Good Doesn't Make It Right 40
  • Chapter 4 - The Hidden Labour of Beauty 101
  • Chapter 5 - Look Good, Feel Better 141
  • Chapter 6 - 'You Feel Better When You Leave' 179
  • Bibliography 191
  • Index 200
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