Tag Archives: Miss Theresa

The Crackdown Continues. Again.

So, we had Monday night off because it was a Beauty U Staff Development Day, which means tonight, Miss Stacy and Miss Theresa have a long list of new rules and reminders for us:

When you greet a client, always make eye contact.

And smile.

And say your name and their name.

And give them a double handshake, where you tenderly — dare I say, reverently? — cup their one hand in both of your own.

And the biggest deal: Nobody, but nobody, is allowed to know in advance what clients we’ve been assigned, or when they’re coming in.

Stay with me.

Up until tonight, when we arrived at Beauty U, we would clock in, go to the classroom, and look at the night’s appointment book, writ large on the flat screen TV monitor that is hooked up to the main computer. The appointment book program is basically a big Excel sheet with the names of the senior students running along the top and the hours of the day down the side, with each appointment plugged in accordingly.

Then we would pow-wow with Miss Stacy and say things like, “Oh can I do the cellulite wrap that was assigned to Brooke, because that’s on my Jeans Pass list this week?” or “Wow, I have a really bad headache, does anyone else feel like doing that Brazilian instead of me?” Or sometimes Miss Stacy might say, “Stephanie doesn’t have any eyebrow signatures yet, so let’s have her do that eyebrow wax at 8:30.” Then, once the schedule has been worked out to everyone’s satisfaction, we’d go off and start setting up for clients.

It wasn’t a perfect system. Sometimes you’d feel a little peer-pressured into trading away a service you really wanted to do, or taking on something you’d rather not. Sometimes it enabled Service Hogs, where people who are really gung-ho about getting their signatures would push to do more, and people who are a little more wimpy polite would end up with not enough to do. One student, who has been working hard to build up her own base of regulars, and manages to upsell every one of them to the high-end facials, would generally find a way to get out of doing the more mundane European facials that bore everyone to tears.

Realizing this, Miss Stacy instituted a rotation a few weeks ago where she wrote our names in alphabetical order on the white board and just assigned out all the services that way, giving each of us a check as we took a client, and then starting over at the top of the list when everyone had their turn. That seemed fair to me, and still allowed for the occasional “oh hey, can I trade you this facial for that lip wax?” kind of bartering that is so essential in the never-ending quest to collect Jeans Passes. (You don’t even know. Some weeks, they are our whole world.)

But now, those days are done. The list has been erased from the white board and is now kept by Iris, who is the receptionist up at the front desk. She, and only she, has the power to decide who does what service.

We’re not allowed to see the list.

Miss Stacy is not allowed to see the list.

In fact, the word on the street is Mr. G told the staff that if any teacher asks to see the list, she will be fired on the spot.

We’re allowed to know that there are, say, three European facials, one salt scrub, and a lip wax coming in tonight. As a class, we get everything set up for those treatments. Then we wait for the clients to arrive, at which point, Iris hands the assignment sheets off to Miss Stacy who comes back and tags us, Oprah style: “And YOU get a facial! And YOU get a facial! And YOU get a lip wax!”

Why the secrecy? It’s all rather unclear. Miss Stacy says, “Mr G had smoke coming out of his ears about this,” and the only explanation they received is that he doesn’t want people being skipped “because they’re slow, or because they haven’t gotten good at that service yet or because of the color of their skin.”

Now I’m only the messenger (of the messenger) here. I have not personally witnessed or heard tell of any racial profiling when it comes to client assignments. I haven’t even seen a teacher pass someone over in a “hey she needs more practice with highlights on their mannequin before I give her a human head” kind of way. But I’m deducing that there have been some doings of this kind afoot.

In which case, instituting a school-wide policy designed to prevent miscellaneous prejudice seems wise. And if you’re going to have a new policy like that, you’re going to need some dire consequences (like firing teachers) to ensure it gets implemented. That’s all making a certain kind of sense.

Things that make less sense include the fact that Iris (the receptionist) doesn’t get invited to the Staff Development Day. So she walks in for her shift tonight and nearly has a nervous breakdown when all of these new responsibilities are dumped on her with nary an explanation or a pay raise. It’s also harder to prepare for your client if you don’t know who she is and what she wants done. We’re supposed to input painstakingly detailed summaries in the computer’s client files at the end of every treatment, so the next person who works on that client can get her whole life story. Now there’s no time to go read those summaries, so you run the risk of asking “is this your first facial?” to a regular who comes in every three weeks.

But what I think I’m most weirded out about is the way it strips our teachers of their authority over the clinic. Why can’t Mr. G trust his staff to distribute client assignments fairly, using their best judgment and making their own game-time decisions, perhaps rearranging things now and then to better suit the needs and talents of the students they know better than he does?

Of course, if a teacher has been abusing this power and discriminating against students, she needs to leave. But what’s up with a management style that assumes such behavior would be the norm?

[Image: The newly top-secret appointment book software looks a lot like this one, from Salon Iris.]

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Filed under Beauty Schooled, Career Opportunities, In Class, week 32

So What’s the Deal with Waxing? (Because My Arms Feel Naked Now.)

Okay, kittens. We’re done with body treatments. We’ve mastered facials. Makeup applications are but a distant memory.

At Beauty U, the time has come for waxing.

A quick disclaimer to the supportive family members who read this blog: Now might be a great time for you to take a little break. Maybe catch up on that pile of unread New Yorkers in your bathroom. See what’s on TV.

I’m just saying. Things are going to have to get a little bit graphic round these parts. Continue reading at your own risk. That’s actually good advice for anyone who gets squeamish about body hair.

Because we’re going to have to talk about body hair.

And to start with, maybe we should talk about why it makes (many of) us so squeamish.

“If men had to remove their body hair, don’t you think we would have figured out how to make this hurt less?” asks Blanche, as we gear up for our first waxing practice. My forearms are deemed the most appropriately hairy subjects. Everyone is nervous. The wax is hot. The wooden Popsicle sticks and muslin strips that we’re supposed to use to paint it on and then rip it off seem clumsy and awkward.

The general consensus is hell yes, there should be a better way. And also that hair removal is something we only do for the pleasure of men anyway.

“Except now we like it better that way too,” adds Stephanie.

“I’m not sure that we even like it, I just think everyone does it, so it seems like that’s what normal is,” says Miss Stacy. “If everyone went around hairy, we would think that was normal too.”

And yet. Miss Stacy removes all of her body hair (for the uninitiated that means, arms, armpits, legs, bikini zone to some degree, and any extraneous eyebrow, lip, and chin hair) on a regular basis. Even though she has pale, sensitive skin that raises up in red welts for days after every treatment. “You get used to it,” she says. “And it’s so great later because you don’t have to shave and the new hair grows in finer.”

So, we get down to business on my forearms. Which, in the space of ten minutes, go from this:

Arm before wax hair removal photo

To this:

Photo of arm after wax hair removal

To be honest (and don’t worry — I’m always honest, but especially about what hurts in waxing), it doesn’t hurt as much as I expect. Like ripping very large (but not super sticky) Band-Aids off your skin, as fast as possible. Or being snapped repeatedly with a large rubber band. I mean, it’s not awesome. And those red welts feel hot and strange to touch. But it’s bearable. I discover a tiny scar on my left forearm that I’d never noticed when it was covered in hair.

It feels weirder the next day, when it looks like this:

Photo of arm post wax hair removal, after redness

My arms aren’t sore, and they are undeniably smooth — but they feel fragile, like the skin might peel off, and a little numb as I slide into my coat sleeves. I am acutely aware of my lack of hair. And feel sort of plastic.

“You’ll have to remind your clients that hair does serve a purpose,” says Miss Theresa, one of the day teachers who is filling in tonight. “It’s not the best idea to take it off every part of your body just because you like how it looks.”

So here’s the thing. Before I started at Beauty U, I didn’t even know that arm hair removal (as in, wrist to elbow or even higher) was Done. I’ve met a handful of women (of Italian or Jewish descent, with pale skin and very dark hair) who shaved their arms. But I thought that was a bit of an anomaly, a hassle that only the very hairy or very self-conscious subjected themselves to. Turns out (at least from what my peers and teachers tell me) it’s pretty common from women of all colors and cultures.

Which makes me realize there’s a lot about waxing (and hair removal in general) that I don’t understand yet. So as I delve in deeper, I’d love to do a little pulse-taking with you guys. This seems especially relevant in light of last week’s cross-post by Emily Heroy, on how you can love fashion and still be a feminist. After all, what says “stereotypical feminist” more quickly than hairy legs and armpits?

So: Do you love hair removal? Do you consider it a necessary evil? Do you eschew it completely as a sign of patriarchal oppression? Why or why not?

And if you have a hair removal line — some kinds of hair removal seem totally normal to you, but others sound freaky — do share your thoughts on all of that, too. Not to mention: Where do you think your preferences come from? (Your family, your friends, hairless Hollywood starlets, that Babysitter’s Club book where Kristy shaves her legs for the first time, you get the idea.)

I have my own preferences/theories about how I ended up with these preferences, and I’ll be sharing them (and analyzing them and over-analyzing them) as we go along — but I really want to hear from you. So go!

[Photos courtesy of the trusty iPhone.]

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Filed under Beauty Schooled, Beauty U, In Class, Waxing, week 21