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Unisex salons may be more inclusive, but for many women I know, female-only salons are more than just grooming spaces; they are a haven where they can let down their defences.
Photo by Rune Enstad on Unsplash
In a world where coexistence is the norm and unisex everything is on the rise, there’s one place that still stands as a sanctuary for me – the female-only salon. It’s a place where women gather to discuss everything from UTI to bad hair days while getting pampered, and where the hairdryers hum in shared understanding of their experiences.
The craving for the sanctuary begins a week before the actual arrival at the salon. It begins in a small way but soon builds up into a dormant, but threatening-to-erupt-soon volcano. And then the day is not too far when I want nothing to do with men and all things remotely related to men – like their mothers. I head to my salon – my head needing a good hot-oil kneading.
The spa-like Zen zone of the salon gathers me in her arms. I strip off my stress-laden clothes and slip into the robe that screams Freedom. I sink into the deep cushioned chair and literally let my hair down. Soul-soothing and stress-relieving conversations waft towards me on the wings of aromatic essential oils. Women in various stages of undress are discussing the ‘undiscussables’ over cups of herbal tea – whispering tales of personal exploits, and heartily laughing away menopausal misadventures.
Now, imagine throwing a couple of dudes into the mix. Poof! The spell is broken.
When women step into a female-only salon, there’s a collective sigh of relief as psychological masks come off and the skincare routines are laid bare. Self-indulgence is the crowning glory. This is neither the time nor the place I want to worry about a pair of male eyes taking in my cream-smeared cleavage from behind a fruit pack masked face. I also don’t want to fill my overworked senses with visions of male feet getting scrubbed and stubborn cuticles being pushed back.
I want to embrace the liberation of a free-from-all environment. For many women I know, female-only salons have evolved into more than just grooming spaces; they foster a supportive community. Women often bond over shared experiences, challenges, and triumphs. By creating an environment centered around women’s needs, these salons become gathering places for networking, mentorship, and friendship.
Often, the salon is a rendezvous for my friend and me. We plan to get things done together. It’s a totally different kind of high.
Once, I even travelled to another city to enjoy ‘salon time’ with her. We sat in adjoining chairs while our tired feet soaked happily in warm soapy water. Not far from us sat a lady with a beetroot pack working into her scalp. As conversation veered this way and that, we learned she was a gynaecologist and she gladly gave us impromptu lessons on self-examination and the Pap test. At the end of the evening, not only did we come away with grateful feet, we were armed with important information about our anatomies. And, if one went by the interest the doctor generated amongst the clients at the salon, she surely would have earned a couple of new patients. Networking at its best.
Then there is always the movie montage moment. We’ve all seen those iconic movie scenes where women bond over hairstyling, face masks, and dramatic life discussions. The magic of a bunch of women rallying around one of their own, offering support, encouragement, and maybe even a tissue, is a sight to behold.
Unisex salons might promise inclusivity, but can they deliver on the movie montage moments that female-only salons are known for?
For some women, the presence of men can lead to psychological discomfort due to past experiences, cultural norms, or personal preferences. Female-only salons offer a way to mitigate this discomfort, allowing them to enjoy their grooming routines without unnecessary stress, anxiety or self-consciousness.
The landscape of the beauty and grooming industry has witnessed a transformation over the years, evolving from traditional barbershops and salons to inclusive unisex establishments. Yet, it is not without reasons that we seem to prefer the comfort and camaraderie of female-only salons over their unisex counterparts.
There was a whole phase in my life when I went to a salon for women that had a male hairdresser. His expertise gave me great-looking cuts and a flood of compliments. But something was still lacking. It did not take me long to realise that it was not just about getting my hair done; it was about finding a haven for shedding inhibitions and embracing a shared journey through the trials and tribulations of womanhood, the celebratory moments of life that are oh-so-womanly and the shared glee of discovering new miracles for hiding silver strands, or sagging masses.
The female salon is beyond mere convenience; it’s deeply rooted in psychological factors that contribute to a sense of comfort, safety, empowerment, and community. I love these spaces, because they allow me to prioritise self-care, engage in meaningful conversations, and build connections in an environment that is uniquely tailored to my needs.
Viva, the female-only salon!
I am a writer and I love to play the narrator of human experiences, transporting readers to a place where the lives of strong people with endearing flaws entwine in equally intriguing plots and landscapes. read more...
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