Today, beauty is not just a notion, it is a whole industry. We no longer believe that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, instead, we choose to flaunt it. Not that it’s wrong, but sometimes the lengths to which we are willing to go to, to achieve socially accepted standards of beauty is alarming. It is shocking to see people willingly fill up their body with silicone and suffer from anorexia or bulimia in order to “fit in”. 

The whole world seems to be divided on its consideration of beauty. While half of us consider it a significant part of our lives, as something that can be enhanced and worked upon (take the fashion industry for example) and the other half rests upon the ideal notion of beauty being undeniable and sublime (as purported by the societies of art and literature).

In such tumultuous times, it is necessary for us to seek a new perspective in order to consider the issue practically. Who better to approach than the doorkeepers of beauty itself – the hair stylists! I step into the parlour and am greeted by Pooja, the apprentice at Sonu Beauty Care (name changed) in Raipur. The following is an excerpt of the interview.

For how long have you been in this beauty business?

Professionally for about two years, but I’ve always been fascinated by this industry. I attended a wedding when I was in 4th standard, I remember getting goosebumps when I first saw the bride, she looked resplendent. There was this aura of sheer happiness and beauty around her, with one look, she brightened up the whole room. At that moment, I knew my calling. When I see the smile of a satisfied customer it makes my day.

You must have come across a vast range of people during these two years, could you tell me one incident that you treasure?

I had just started, this middle aged lady walked in and asked for a haircut. She left all decisions in my hands. I could literally make or break her personality. I was very nervous about that. Generally, customers are very specific in their instructions, but this woman was different. Short hair was not as popular back then, but I felt that she would look great that way, I picked up my courage and chopped off her long silky strands. I remember holding my breath as she looked at her new hairstyle, I thought she would be infuriated…She loved it! I listened to my heart that day and I succeeded, that is my most cherished memory.

Nowadays people say that makeup or any beauty treatment for that matter is artificial and unnecessary, do you agree?

I think it depends on the person. I’ve seen young college girls who walk into the parlour for the first time, nervous and apprehensive. When we are done with them, I can see that spark of confidence in their eyes. They become completely different people.

If putting on lipstick and mascara every morning gives you confidence, why shouldn’t you do it?

Have you had difficult customers? How do you handle them?

Sometimes I feel as if the internet is a bane. Some women just walk in with a picture of an actresses haircut and expect me to duplicate it. These are educated women and yet they do not realise that these pictures are not original, they are edited. I tell them that it probably won’t suit their face profile and if they still want to continue, I try my best to duplicate it.

Do you personally use a lot of beauty products or are you tired of working around them all day?

I love it! I can’t imagine stepping out of my house sans Kajal and Bindi. Only when I know I look beautiful will I be able to help others look beautiful.

In India, we believe that fair is beautiful. Do you agree?

I don’t know what to say, personally I think we should be happy with the colour we were born with. I love the dusky skin tone, its natural and beautiful. But I guess it’s up to you if you want to look fair or not.

Written by Sangeetha Alwar

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