We live in an age, where you can’t get away with saying too much anymore, without getting in trouble with someone, about something.
Everyone has an opinion to share, or a judgment to make - the seemingly great thing about living in an society where freedom of speech is a real thing.
But I’m not here to talk about that.
What I’m here to talk about is the language we use when it comes to ourselves - because this goes WELL beyond the realms of my tiny little spray tan room in Perth, Western Australia.
It’s a global phenomenon where most women (and men) have something negative to say about themselves. And trust me, it not cool.
As I have mentioned in previous musings, during my career, I have undertaken in the vicinity of 20,000 spray tans, so that’s a LOT of naked bodies.
There isn’t much I haven’t seen when it comes to the human form.
But here’s the thing: I can’t remember any of it.
I don’t come home at night and think:
“Wow, Clarice-Ralene (I don’t have a client, or know anyone called Clarice-Ralene) has a great rack!”
“Ooof Patriziana-Shanay (again, don’t know her) was looking a bit podgy round the middle today”
or even more importantly
“Wow Susie-Rose’s nail polish was a little bit chipped on the outer corner of her left little toe, jeez, she really dropped the ball on that today"
Yet somehow, YOU all do.
You have these stories you tell yourself about how you think you look.
And it HAS TO to stop.
The hating on yourself. Its vulgar.
The greatest thing I recognise while spray tanning is vulnerability a client feels, taking their clothes off in front of me.
As soon as I walk into the tanning room, I can feel it - the air is thick.
And then it begins. Words begin to spew out of my client like toxic, uncontrollable vomit.
The “I’m sorry you have to look at me” or the “Oh my god, I’m so fat” or the “Ugh, I’m so ugly”
The things we say about ourselves are horrific. Have you ever listened to whats coming out of your mouth? Or is this just an automated message you send out to the world without really thinking?
Do you TRULY believe what you are saying?
I’m here to tell you, what you see, and what you SAY about yourself, is simply not true. End of story.
Sometimes I feel like a rogue in the beauty industry - a bit of a fraud - because I seem to have gained quite the reputation for my spray tanning ability.
But I’m not trained as beauty therapist, and to clients and industry peers who meet me for the first time, I may come across as a little bit lax, and probably quite unpolished.
However, I will "out" myself now and say that my personal presentation at work
(or lack of) is all for good reasons - far greater than wanting to ruin my designer wardrobe that awaits me at home.
(That sounded wankier than it needed to!)
My number one reason for arriving to work looking like a "hot mess" is to bring down those psychological barriers from the moment you walk into my space.
If you are all feeling so terrible about yourselves to begin with, why would I turn up to work looking like a princess who has primped myself within an inch of my life and make you feel worse about yourself?
As human beings we are a complex bunch with a myriad of masks and filters (hello social media) that we well and truly need to strip away.
Another reason why I don’t wear makeup to work. Its just one less layer barrier I try to bring down between myself and my client.
And now I’m really going to state the obvious: I don’t have a mirror anywhere in my salon either.
I bet you all forgot about that little trick too.
You don’t need to check over my work to ensure that I’ve evenly distributed the tan over your body - thats why you come to me in the first place isn’t it?
I’ve been spending the entire appointment (and decade) mastering my craft - watching how the tan glides onto your skin, and making sure I hit the right entrance and exit points on the body to make it seamless.
That all I’m doing. My job.
To me, a mirror, is just another opportunity for a client to tell themselves another fable about their perfectly perfect body.
With all these tactics in play, still from time-to-time I’ll get a “Stage 5” body hater.
And that’s when I sternly unleash my favourite lines:
“We don’t speak like this here, so lets shut that sh*t down right now.”
The look on a clients since is one of slight shock, but that seems to bring the story-telling to a grinding halt.
Retrospectively, another extreme and very unorthodox tactic I have engaged in, is removing some of my own clothes in front of a client to disarm them. (Note: I'm not joking, even though you think I am!)
I’d like to say we’ve progressed beyond resorting to nudity to lighten the mood, but sometimes, I don’t think we have.
So to my clients, and clients of other spray tan technicians in my country and ALLLLLL round the world, here is my judgment of you as you stand before me:
We all have skin. We all have heart (and hopefully also a little soul).
As women (and a good chunk of my clientele) you have all used your bodies to give life to others through childbirth.
If you aren’t a mother, then maybe you’ve just eaten a huge bowl of delicious pasta, or smashed a block (yes a block - don’t deny yourself on my account) of chocolate, but haven’t you had the time of your life doing so? PLEASE SAY YES!
Please don’t turn up to for a spray tan and start hating on yourself on my account, and apologising for your body.
You seem to be doing enough of that in your own time.
And if you ARE saying these hateful things about yourself to me in the 15 minutes that I spend with you, you might want to make a quick mental note on how regularly are you saying this to yourself during the day/ week/ month/ year…… over your lifetime when i’m not around!? Yikes!
Just know, I’m not here to judge you and your wobbly bits - I’m doing enough of that in my own head, on my own body (*insert spider veins here*).
I’m here to laugh with you. Get some tan on you and make you feel better.
For me, the spray tanning is easy. Overcoming the vulnerability, quickly building a rapport and putting at client at ease. That takes skills.
And in a training environment, its the number one thing I teach my budding spray tan technicians.
Because if we can do one little thing to make our client feel better about themselves, then we are doing our job correctly.
As beauty professionals: we are “of service”. Please never forget that.
So ladies (and gents) the time has come to shake off those shackles and do a little dance.
You can't speak about yourselves like that anymore.
Please leave your bad language, at the door.
We’re only here for a tan and a good time.