I’m a Graduate.

photo of my Graduation Cake

That’s what everyone on the local cable commercials for Beauty U says — usually as they’re looking up from a facial or turning away from a head of hair or standing proudly next to Mr. G, while extremely excited music blares.

And now, I can say it too.

OK, to be technical: I still have to go get a physical and head back to Beauty U for my Exit Interview so they can send all my paperwork to the state and register me for the exam. That will happen in the next few weeks.

But in the meantime, I’ve clocked my last Beauty U hour. That means…

20 pairs of eyebrows shaped.

10 bikini lines (including several full-on Brazilians) waxed.

20 faces applied with Daytime and Evening Makeup.

18 bodies wrapped in mud or seaweed and/or salt scrubbed.

75 facials (okay, maybe it was 68 and Miss Stacy kindly threw me the last few signatures for free).

85 other treatments, ranging from paraffin dips and back facials to glycolic peels and microdermabrasion.

600 hours.

150 nights.

39 weeks.

10 months.

And, I’m done.

And it’s pretty darn emotional, to tell you the truth. I’ve been writing this post in my head since I drove out of the Beauty U parking lot at 10:15 on Tuesday night and I’m still not quite sure what I want to say about the whole thing.

There’s the obvious relief: I get my weeknights back. I can maybe try to lose the 20 pounds I gained eating fast food for dinner all the damn time. I’ll get to see my husband more and return phone calls and emails from the friends and family who have put up with me living under a rock for the better part of a year.

If I wanted to go months without removing any body hair, it’s now allowed. (Sort of.)

In fact, there are a lot of “alloweds” now: Wear whatever I want. Use my cell phone without having it confiscated. Take breaks longer than fifteen minutes. Drink beverages other than water. Speak up when I think I’m being treated unfairly. Not worry that doing so will get me or a classmate kicked out or cause one of my teachers to lose her job.

To be honest, it feels like I’m going back into some kind of bubble. Because my non-Beauty U life has a lot of freedom like that. I make my own schedule. We’re reasonably financially secure. When I feel wronged — by the phone company, an editor, a rude store clerk, society in general — it’s within my power to complain, maybe to write about it, and sometimes even change things.

These are some of the perks of being self-employed, college-educated. And let’s just say it: White and upper-middle-class.

Most of the women who attend and work for Beauty U don’t have that kind of control over their lives. They’re used to punching time clocks, to living in debt, to getting screwed over by bosses, boyfriends, the world. Rules about water bottles and open-toed shoes piss them off, but mostly it’s in the way they’re constantly expecting to be pissed off. “You can’t do that,” Miss Stacy would say whenever we chafed against a new regulation. “They won’t let you. Or I’ll get in trouble.”

I have to admit (as selfish and privileged as this makes me) I won’t miss living with even one foot in that world.

But 600 hours, many of them spent touching each other in a variety of weird and intimate ways? That builds some serious foxhole-type bonds. So there are a lot of things I will miss about Beauty U.

Like Campbell doing her Beyoncé impression to distract you from a painful bikini wax. Or sneaking a few extra minutes at break so there’s time to gossip with Meg in Dunkin Donuts. And putting glitter eye shadow on everyone like it was all one ten month-long sleepover party.

I’ll also miss seeing how Miss Stacy stands up — politely but determinedly — to people like the parents of Client Nine when they wanted her waxed beyond what was reasonable for her thirteen years. And how all of these women fight, in quiet ways, for each other, and for the life they want and deserve.

They’re hoping (because Beauty U told us to hope) that Beauty U represents the gateway to that life — to jobs that pay better, are more fun, and less crappy. Ten months later, I’m pretty well convinced it won’t be. Of the four of us finishing this month, only Stephanie is graduating with a spa job lined up. And it’s just part-time. Sue, who graduated in April, came back to visit last week and told us she was still looking for work and trying to make ends meet on her Mary Kay sales. Miss Stacy sat down to treat me to her facial on my last night and said, “Gosh, I hope I remember how to do this,” because she has so few clients, it had been weeks since she last did one.

So tonight, we’re going to celebrate with margaritas at the Chili’s by the mall. When we toast to our future as Beauty U graduates, I don’t think any of us will quite know what that means, because Beauty U didn’t turn out to be what any of us expected.

But when we toast to each other, we’ll know exactly what that part is about.

[Photo: The Oreo Cookie cake from my break room graduation party. Courtesy of Miss Stacy.]



Filed under Beauty Labor, Beauty Schooled, Best of Beauty U, Career Opportunities, In Class, week 39

22 responses to “I’m a Graduate.

  1. DDT

    Congratulations! Despite how you may feel about the process, it is quite an accomplishment to complete that program.

    Even if you don’t plan to use that education, good luck with the writing.

    • Thank you, DDT! Always appreciate your input about the industry, etc over here. And I do feel pretty proud. I’m sure I’ll be using my education in all sorts of ways. Stay tuned for more…

  2. Hooray! You deserve lots of congrats 🙂

  3. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! You rock!!! And what an awesome post to celebrate.

    Now eat some of that cake and send me a photo of yourself eating it!

  4. Pingback: Eat the Damn Cake » By Tomorrow You Will Probably Disagree With Everything You Decided Today

  5. I have to say reading this post almost brought tears to my eyes. Welcome back, sweet friend…you have been missed!

  6. Congrats! We’ve missed you!

  7. Congratulations, Virginia!

  8. Congratulations Virginia! I’m so impressed by your whole experience with Beauty U 😀

  9. Yay! I love this post. Takes me back to my last day, handing in my time card and feeling so FREE! Getting licensed is quite an achievement, regardless of what you do with it in the future (and you’ll do a lot with it, in your own way, I can tell). I’m jealous of your program, to be honest. We didn’t do nearly that many bikini waxes and no Brazilians, microderm or peels. Still, I took a photo of that last time card to remind myself of everything I did, because I was proud of it, even if some of it was silly, strange, stupid, or downright bizarre. I too made some deep friendships, deep in a totally different, we’ve been through war kind of way, as you say. I don’t see those girls often at all, but I truly do love them.

  10. Megan

    Why do you need a physical?

    • Hi Megan,

      The physical is required by our state before you’re allowed to sit for the licensing exam. Since we work on people in a very hands-on way, they want to be sure you don’t have any communicable diseases.

      Though now you’ve got me thinking about it, I should look into what happens if you do have a potentially contagious but controlled medical condition like HIV or herpes. Could you still get licensed? If they deny you the license wouldn’t that be some form of discrimination? I don’t know enough about that issue, but I wonder…

  11. Congratulations. It sounds like it was some journey – and Miss Stacy sounds great.

    I’m always disturbed by beauty talk – peels and dermabrasion and the like – but ‘paraffin dip’ really disturbed me. I’d ask you to explain, but I’m not sure I want to know…

  12. Arania

    Congratulations! I’ve been following your adventures closely and I’m so proud of you. *throws confetti*

    I hope this won’t be the last we hear of you? I’d love to read about how your career turns out after your training, and I’d love to continue to read your “Pretty Price Checks”.

    Best of luck and, again, congratulations!

  13. miss-trixie

    Congratulations to you and all your classmates! Can’t wait to find out what happens next…

  14. CONGRATULATIONS! I’m so proud of all that you’ve accomplished and were able to share here. Can’t wait to see what you continue to learn as a graduate.

  15. Pingback: So Here’s What Happens Next. « Beauty Schooled

  16. Stephanie


  17. anne

    Congratulations Virginia!!!

    I so enjoyed reading about your experiences at Beauty U….heck, I enjoy reading ANYTHING you write!!!

    Really insightful info and always thought provoking ideas/subjects. You are really a hoot! Waxed or unwaxed, bleached or dyed, tips or NO TIPS, you’ve earned your degree!

    Take this anywhere you may…..I’ll follow!

    xoxox anne

  18. Dawn.

    I’m very late to the party, but I wanted to say: congratulations! This a fabulous blog and I’ve enjoyed reading it. Looking forward to your return in a couple weeks. 🙂

  19. Pingback: [Best of Beauty U] But Have You Considered a Recession-Proof Career in Beauty? « Beauty Schooled

  20. Pingback: [Back to Beauty U] The Written Licensing Exam | Beauty Schooled

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