Thursday, June 14, 2007

Suffering For Fashion

My best friend works at a beauty salon. And since we all know that we, as over-advertisement-exposed Americans, are about 90% dependent on word-of-mouth information to make most of our purchasing decisions, I've been an almost-perfectly-loyal customer of her salon since she started working there. Well that, and the fact that since she books all of my appointments, I tend to get a significant discount on services.

By the way, I say "almost-perfectly-loyal" because the only time I've ever strayed from going to a stylist at the aformation salon in the last couple years was when a hairdresser acquaintance of mine from outside that salon insisted on coloring and styling my hair. I don't know why that was relevant. Anyway, that was several months ago.

Needless to say, my hair was developing a rather unsightly wispiness and I knew it was time for a haircut. So today, I went to my 3:30 appointment with the adorably-cute real estate agent/hairstylist named Stephanie. She is one of the most perfectly cute women I have ever seen - tall, slender, sweet-spoken and blonde. And for once, her blondeness is something of an asset - given that most (most, not all) beautiful blonde women I meet are completely superficial and stupid. (It's a stereotype for a reason, people.) Still, Stephanie is beautiful, sweet, brainy and an all-around wiz with shears.

So, I showed up for my appointment about 15 minutes early to catch up with my best friend - who went to Disneyland this past weekend for her birthday. Just so you know, my best friend and I don't get together for the primary purpose of gossiping. I was just sincerely interested to find out what staying at the Disneyland Hotel was like. (Again, I don't know why that was relevant.)

But, as I stood at the counter waiting for Stephanie, I couldn't help but overhear some of the conversations going on around me. My best friend, who was working of course, had to pause her story about Disneyland (see! it was minutely relevant after all) because some woman was scowling at her from my side of the counter, in desperate need to schedule her next appointment before she left. She was vicious - looking back and forth between me and my best friend, probably analyzing the sheer injustice of the fact that my friend hadn't turned to help her quickly enough. Granted, she had only JUST appeared at the counter, and the fraction of a second it took for my friend to respond to her could never have been seen as customer neglect. Even when my friend turned to help her, she still looked over at me a few more times as if I was violating her personal bubble of salon space.

What does all of this have to do with music, you ask? Well, this whole thing reminded me of that Of Montreal song, "Suffer For Fashion" from the "Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?" album. It starts off like this: "we just want to emote til we're dead / i know we suffer for fashion or whatever." Lyrically, the rest of the song basically criticizes the societal norm that forces us to subject ourselves to just about anything to be physcially beautiful... and that our human obsession with doing so is actually weakining us.. blah, blah, blah. (All this, coming from a lead singer who wears feathers, glitter, women's clothing and the occasional blue eye-shadow on stage - but that's beside the point.)

"How can I help you?" my friend asked the woman.

"I NEED to schedule an appointment for the week of July 16th with Doreen," she said, with pen in hand as she browsed through her little, black leather organizer. She said this with such a tone of inconvenience - as if it was my friend's fault that she had to schedule this seemingly unwanted appointment.

My friend continued to schedule the appointment and they eventually agreed on 1 p.m. on July 18th. Our new woman friend gave one last scowl and proceeded to march pretentiously out of the salon, leather organizer and all.

I get it. I know that a lot of people religiously make appointments at the beauty salon... but come on! This is not a military operation. We're supposed to go to these places because we feel like getting cute or because our hair is getting too long, not to pollute the world with bitterness and inner ugliness. This woman took the concept of "suffering for fashion" completely wrong and turned it into her horrible necessity. She has turned into exactly the kind of person that Of Montreal's song indirectly describes as bad.

If only she had heard this song before coming to the salon today. (Realistically though, she didn't strike me as the type of person who listens to Of Montreal on a regular basis, let alone actually take their advice). But still, for the rest of us - maybe we should consider this message before getting crazy at future hair appointments.

"If we've got to burn out let's do it together / let's all melt down together." Ugly wouldn't really be ugly if we were ALL ugly together.

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