You've heard it before: if you need a therapy session just head to your hairdresser. Hairstylists are notoriously billed as therapists, marriage counselors, sounding boards, advisers and more. There's a reason for this. How you feel about yourself on the outside is directly tied to how you feel on the inside. If I'm the person making you feel better about yourself on the outside, I can help with the other stuff too right? Well, even though I have experience in this field but I'm not really qualified, the short answer is yes. It's nice to be able to vent to someone who is taking care of you and doing their best to make you feel better. Whether you're a salon stylist or a traveling artist like me, you see a lot of clients, you hear a lot of stuff and you wind up giving lots of advice. That's ok. It's part of the job and we wouldn't be in this business if we weren't people people. I have a problem that's been weighing on me though. It came to a head at a recent wedding and I felt compelled to write about it because I am positive there are other people feeling the same way this bridesmaid felt. Other artists may have labeled this girl the "problem" but I know it's deeper than that.
People come in all shapes and sizes, skin colors, hair colors, hair types, facial shapes and more. It's one of the best parts of this job, no two people are alike and everyone's preferences are different so it's never the same thing on repeat. However, being that this is the case, it can be difficult for a person who doesn't think they are as pretty as everyone else or who is hung up on what they see as a flaw in themselves. In a typical bridal party we could have a client with ten tons of hair and one who needs a pack of extensions to make it look like she has any hair at all. We have had aestheticians with perfect skin and faces covered in acne. We have had people with big bushy brows and the girl next to her who would kill for half the brows on her face. The point is - you gotta work with what ya got - or add in the stuff you need (more on that later). Most importantly, you need to love yourself for what you got, flaws and all, and just be happy to glam up for the big day.
Ok, I'll say it - Pinterest - I kind of loathe you. I'm pissed at you on behalf of all hair and makeup artists that stand in front of a client watching them scroll through their boards full of hair and make up looks that they just can't have. I want you to have a page entitled "real bitches" instead of organizing the styled shoots, editorial photos and extravagant hair and make up looks under the heading "updo". Maybe you could make a page called "this look took 3 hours and weeks worth of prep" instead. Ok, it's not just you, the internet as a whole is a major supplier of false information that leads the crushing of hopes and dreams by people like me. It's not the client's fault, they aren't professionals and they don't know any better. Ladies, hear me loud and clear, please stop comparing yourself to the people in these photos. And pretty please, stop expecting me to be able to recreate the styles in this photo. I'm a people pleaser and a damn good hairdresser and make up artist but these looks are not realistic or doable for everyone. I'm really talking to the bridesmaids or moms here because I usually have this all worked out with the bride in advance and if she has a style she wants, we have the tools needed to make it happen by the time the big day comes around.
Ok, so back to my story about the bridesmaid I met recently. Let's call her Julie (that's not her real name). Julie was not happy with her hair (which I did twice) or her make up which I started and another artist finished due to time constraints with the bride and the photographer. To be honest, I'm not positive if Julie was happy at the end of the day with any of her services but I think I know why. Julie was beautiful. She had clear, porcelain skin, gorgeous naturally blonde hair that was about shoulder length and fine and thin like me. She had clear, blue eyes as well. First Julie showed me a picture of her hair from her own wedding which I executed and she didn't like. After the fact, she said she hated her hair for her wedding too so I'm not sure why she showed me that for inspiration. Her hair didn't hold curl well at all so we decided that a down or half up do wouldn't work for the day and she wanted it up anyway. I removed the first do, curled her entire head and created a more loose flowing up do that made her look like she had lots of hair in the back. All the while she talked about how much her hair sucked and how everyone else had so much more and looked so much better. She kept saying she looked like a mouse. She wasn't lying, the other girls had some major hair that my sister was drowning in all morning. Still, she was putting herself down and comparing the whole time. Then it was on to her make up. She talked about how her skin was translucent and every time she tries to glam up she is disappointed in herself. After some lashes, brows and a soft glam eye look that played up her eye color, I thought she was looking great. All she needed was to have her airbrush done. As I moved onto the bride I listened to Julie talk about how she "missed the memo that she was supposed to get a spray tan, how great the other ladies looked as they came out of hair and make up, how she looked terrible compared to everyone else and so on. When her make up was finished I thought she looked great. She came back in for a change on her eyeliner but hey whatever makes you happy. After we left, my make up artist told me that when she got into her chair for airbrushing she told her repeatedly how much she hated her make up (that I had done) and the story of what crap she looked like compared to everyone else continued. I wish I had the time to get back to her at the end of the session to check in and make sure she was ok but it just wasn't possible.
Ok I'm not trying to sound like an ass here. I'm really good at what I do. If I fall short I can always rely on my team. If someone isn't happy with a service, we have no problem with someone else making that person happy. We leave our egos at the door. If none of us can make someone happy hair or make up wise, there's something bigger going on. I thought about Julie all day. I'm still thinking about her. I'm not ok with someone leaving us and not being happy with what they look like. The truth of the matter is, Julie was not happy with herself so there really wasn't anything we could do to change that. That's an inside job not something superficial. Forget the fact that it makes our job ten times harder, it's heart breaking to know that someone can feel this way about themselves and that it affects their whole experience. Add in the comparing to others and unattainable looks found in photos on the internet and it's enough to bring anyone down.
So what can we do here? Aside from some serious self reflection and acceptance exercises - add in what you don't got. The beauty industry is a billion dollar business for a reason. People want to like the way they look - but Rome wasn't built in a day. If you're not feeling yourself, recognize what's bothering you and make some changes - in advance. Brides do this all the time but the rest of us forget about it if we're not the ones getting married. I was in the best shape of my life at my wedding because I worked on it for a year leading up to it with diet and exercise. Oh 160 pounds how I miss you...I digress. If you have some skin issues, set up some appointments with a dermatologist or medical esthetician a year out from your event. You want your little eyes to pop - visit your local lash extensionist beforehand or request big strip lashes at your make up application. You feel like you have no hair and desire a full style - purchase some hair extensions in advance that match your hair color (see my blog on extensions). Do you have bushy eyebrows or a mustache - go get waxed or threaded a few days before the event. Did you tweeze off all your brows in the nineties and have some serious brow envy - check out micro-blading to fill them out. Feeling pasty - start a tan towel regimen or get a spray tan a day before the event. Looking the way you want is an investment in both time and money and shouldn't be the sole responsibility of the hair or make up artist on the day of an event. If you're not into all the prep - that's ok too - you just have to be prepared to work with what you got when you are getting ready. Hair and make up can be a transforming experience but it all starts with what you are already working with.
We want you to be prepared but most of all we want you to feel good about yourself when you're all done with us. You are beautiful and deserve to feel that way. Our differences make us great. Embrace your looks and love yourself!
Peace. Love and Beauty - Allison