Public Space Design: Hair Salon
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Public spaces can be categorized into two; open-minded space and public domains. According to Hajer and Reijndorp, open minded spaces are those places where various people from different backgrounds can coexist and perform various functions. On the other hand, public domains refer to those places where different social groups can interact. It does not have to be a space (Hajer and Reijndorp 3). One example of a public space is a hair salon. The design of a hair salon speaks a lot about the kind of clients it seeks to attract. Delaney Hair Design Salon is a public space that appeals more to women clients even though its website and catalog indicate that it serves men as well. In this write up, I will argue that Delaney Hair Design Salon is a public space for the women because its interior is decorated with female pictures, its walls are purple in color, and it offers female merchandise to its clients.
The salon is located in located on 170 Bedford Street in Massachusetts and is owned by Melissa Delaney. Its interior design speaks a lot about the salon. It is primarily painted in light and dark tones of purple. Roughgarden argues that color studies conducted over the years reveal that men and women have different favorite colors (16). Some of these differences might be attributed to traditional uses of the color or the gendered or sex-based conditioning of members of the society. Roughgarden alleges that purple is a sexy color that stands out as a feminine color. It is perceived to symbolize tenderness, which is an attribute associated with women. Most men would not wish to be associated with a female color because they might be considered to be weak. As a result, purple is disliked by the men. The fact that Delaney Hair Design is painted in a color that is disliked by men is a polite way of telling the male that they are invited. Just like pink, some people use purple as an insult to men. Equating a man to woman can be disrespectful especially to the male chauvinists because it portrays them to be weaklings who need protection like the women. If the management wanted to attract men, the best color to use would have been blue because this is a male’s favorite (Roughgarden 34). Should Delaney be focused on attracting men?
Delaney Hair Design salon is decorated with pictures of beautiful women. The salon has not a single picture of a man. Clearly, the pictures are supposed to show the clients how they will look after getting the services of the solon attendants. If there are no male pictures, it is an indication that men are not invited. For instance, a barber shop would have several pictures of different styles of haircuts from which the client can choose. Pictures are a medium of communication. Pictures can be used to explain or reinforce some message (Roughgarden 42). As the saying goes “pictures speak louder than words”. In this case, the pictures of beautiful women in the salon indicate that it is a place for women. However, Delaney Hair Design’s catalog shows that the salon offers male hair cut, beard trim, and the like. This might only have been used for public relations and marketing purposes.
The Salon also has flower vases with bright flowers. Traditionally, men are supposed to buy their women flowers and not the other way round. Flowers are therefore associated with women and demonstrate a sign of happiness and beauty. For generations, men have shown love to their women with a bouquet of flowers. It makes a woman to feel appreciated and special. Delaney Hair Design therefore promotes this gendered stereotype by appealing to women. Women are more likely to be attracted to a place that is decorated with flowers than men. Although men will notice the flowers, this is not the main reason as to why they will visit the public space. On the other hand, a woman would love to sit in a place that is decorated with flowers and would even come back just because of the appeal to flowers.
The salon is also constructed in a way that every client has her own space separated by a barrier. This kind of privacy is mostly associated with women than men. The situation is normally different in a barbershop where all clients sit in close proximity. In fact, most barbers use one long mirror for many clients sitting next to one another. This might be because the services being offered to every client are more or less the same: a haircut. For women, one would require different services from the other. Some women go to the salon to be plaited while others go to wash and blow-dry their hair. Others would go to put on a weave or to simply plait their hair. Therefore, while one would be plaiting braids, another would be doing straight perm. The procedures for conducting these styles are different. Similarly, the products used are different. For instance, blow-drying would require some hair gel and a hot comp or a blow-drying machine while putting on a weave would require the weave and some needle to sew the weave on the hair. In fact, one of the goals of Delaney Hair Design is to give every client individual care. For the men, the procedure of cutting hair is the same. Only the style of hair cut varies. For instance, students would have a plain simple hair cut while rock starts would shave a Mohawk. The products used for hair cut include a shaver, aftershave, shampoo and hot water to wash the head among others. The separation of clients demonstrates the stereotypes that women value their privacy more than men (Scheinder 25). They also like to protect their space and have a developed sense of pride. Just the same way women would not wish to see their men with other women, they value attention.
Delaney Hair Design is ever clean and smelling fresh. The floor looks polished and well maintained. Traditionally, women are supposed to look clean and appealing to the men. Men should not be cleaner than their women because it gives them a feminine look. The high maintenance of the salon perpetuates the stereotype that women have better disciplinary body practices than men. For instance, it is commonly expected that a woman’s bedroom would be neater than that of a man that in most cases is usually disorganized (Scheinder 29). A man whose bedroom is well organized is considered feminine or girlish. However, this does not mean that men should not keep their bodies neat. In most cases, the beatifying processes undertaken by women are more intense and time consuming than men’s. A woman would need to apply make-up on her face, put on ear rings, and clean her hair. All these activities are time consuming. On the other hand, most men do not put on make-up. They only need to wash their face and apply body-oil which takes a few minutes. Women can take more than three hours in the salon. In most cultures, men should spend most of the time looking for money to feed their families because they are the heads of their families. Although they are assisted by their wives, it is their responsibility to make sure that the family gets the basic needs. Traditionally, men are supposed to be masculine and rough. Similarly, the males are not considered to be very keen on high levels of cleanliness as demonstrated by the salon. A man who takes three hours in a salon would be considered to have gone against the traditional norms.
Scheinder alleges that it is obvious that women have different values than men. Nonetheless, men should protect their women because they are the heads of the family (65). Cosmetics are considered to be female products because they help women to look young, tender, and attractive. Although, there are various male cosmetics that have been introduced into the market, not every man uses them. Traditionally, men are not known to be so obsessed with cosmetics. Delaney Hair Design has cosmetics like moisturizers, shampoos, conditioners, and skins care products, among others. These are products associated with the female. One of the points of beauty ideal is that beauty is changeable over time and culture. Traditionally, women are supposed to look beautiful and that’s why they use such cosmetics. Similarly, beauty is reinforced through various ways. Cosmetics is one of them. Although some men use products like shampoo after a haircut, they can as well do without them.
The salon also has feminine magazines stocked in drawers. Some of them include the Oprah Magazine, Marie Claire, The Lady, Filament, and Women Weekly among others. All these are magazines whose readership is primarily women. I never saw a single magazine meant for men. Clients use the magazines to pass time as they wait to make their hair. If the salon was genuinely accommodative of the men, it would also have stocked men’s magazines to serve the male clients. It also gives out gift hampers especially on special days like the Women’s Day. The content of these hampers are more targeted at the women rather than men. For instance, they include nail polish, moisturizers, female magazines, and shampoos. In the traditional, you would not expect to see a man walking around with a bag packed with nail polish and shampoos (Scheinder 49). These are considered to be female products. A man would be excused if he bought the products for his wife but not for himself.
The traditional official look of a man would include a clean shave in a clean suit. You never see male board members walking into a meeting with weaves on their head. It is therefore expected that a man should be neat and manly. On the other hand, the official look of a woman would include a well done hair style with neat clothes. This is why they spend more time looking in the mirror to ensure that they look attractive. Traditionally, how well maintained the woman’s hair is, speaks a lot of her beauty. Long hair or attractive hair styles symbolize beauty (Roughgarden 30).
In conclusion, it has been clearly demonstrated that like most salons, Delaney Hair Design is women oriented. Similarly, women who cut their hair are considered masculine. For a long time, it has been said that a woman’s beauty is her hair. This is well demonstrated by the salon owing to the investment it made to ensure that it looks appealing to its clients. For instance, it has personalized care and also offers privatized services. Men who keep long hair are considered to be weak or gay. A common gendered stereotype promoted by Delaney Hair Design is that salons are for women while barbershops are for men.