chapter  3
61 Pages

Just because it feels good doesn't make it right

Identity in the beauty salon

I have chosen the beauty salon as a site par excellence, where attainment of femininity and its definition are being negotiated. In its generally closed and intimate nature, the beauty salon is not only a feminised space, but also one in which the secret routines of femininity are commodified and exemplified. Much feminist writing has been concerned to criticise the operation of the beauty industry, but has generally remained ungrounded in empirical settings. It has also remained critical of some practices while neglecting others. Those practices which relate to appearance have come in for particular criticism. In approaching this complex area I agree broadly with Davis' statement above. What might a grounded theorisation of the beauty salon look like? How might the feminist critique of the beauty industry be refined if the salon was placed in historical perspective, and if the testimonies of clients and therapists themselves were taken into account?