Do you know what a microaggression is or have you every experienced one? Well, another way that biases can show up in an interaction between people is in the form of a microaggression, which can be verbal or nonverbal. So, you might be wondering what is a microaggression and here’s the quick and easy answer. A microaggression is a term used for commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental slights, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative attitudes connected to a person’s membership group.
Well unfortunately, microaggressions in beauty salons are a reality. Despite the relaxing and serene atmosphere that beauty salons are supposed to provide, many people experience subtle forms of discrimination and prejudice that makes them feel unsafe and unwelcomed when they go in for a service, And a lot of times this happens unconsciously. I know this from first hand experience and from conversations I’ve had with other stylist who are also communited to creating safe and inclusive spaces for their guests.
In last week’s blog I shared the story of a “bad” review a salon received that prompted them to realize that they had not created a safe and welcoming space… and it was time to do better! This week I want to dive deeper into the review by exploring why the guest felt the way she did, and most importantly how microaggressions in beauty salons are a real thing.
“Today I had an appointment with Chrissi at “.......” salon. I was super excited for my appointment, since it was my birthday I had a night on the town planned. I booked my appointment three weeks in advance and arrived 10 minutes early. The salon is super cute and everyone was very nice, however when I sat in Chrissi chair, and I told her I wanted to be blonde and have my hair blown out, she looked lost. She asked my a few questions, “petted” my hair, told me I had “ALOT” of hair while she constipated how to tell me she had no clue how to do my hair, and I had s lot of it and ultimately I would have to find another salon. I felt very small and like I “my hair” was the issue. I went to this salon because they had great reviews on blonding .. I learned that the do great blonde hair as long as its straight. This is a very disappointing salon experience for me.”
At first glance or read, you might not be able to identify the microaggression or why the guest was so offended. However, if you apply the definition of microaggression to the experience, you will realize that the offense was in how Chrissi reacted to the guest’s hair. She petted her head and suggested that she had too much hair, which was not a compliment! Another microaggression that is not a compliment is touching someone’s hair or petting their hair without consent. Often times these gestures can seem nonthreatening or innocuous however, they can create harm because any time touching is involved, regardless of where on a person’s body, consent should be granted.
Microaggressions in beauty salons can be traumatic experiences for many people, especially those from marginalized communities. These microaggressions can include anything from subtle comments on hair texture (like in the Chrissi’s experience), lack of access to services and sometimes sadly enough explicit racism. These experiences can have a long-lasting impact on a person's self-esteem and confidence, even if there was no intention to harm. However, it’s important to remember that through education and understanding, you can confront and address microaggressions. With the assistance of mastermind groups like The Beauty Collective, beauty salons can create safe and inclusive spaces for all. If you are ready to get 🤔curious about what it takes to create a more welcoming and inclusive salon, join The Beauty Collective waitlist – and 🙏remember you don’t have to do this work alone!
Make sure to follow me in these social media streets!