I recently saw a meme that received many 'likes' and 'shares' on social media. It displayed a huge ream of paper a few feet tall and had "What you might not have learned in beauty school" imposed on the stack. My initial reaction was less than positive. Allow me to give credit where credit is due. Above the image was a link to an article that embellished on the sentiment displayed by the meme. It talked about the value of continuing education, building upon the basics, not assuming you know everything there is to know the day you graduate. But how many of us click on article links? We see the image and we judge it for what it represents whether it's in context or not.
Without question, I am a huge supporter of schools. They are not all perfect (which of us is?), but they are so very necessary. It is where we learn the basics, the fundamentals to build upon. Robert Fulghum wrote, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. The reality is, at its truest sense, that's absurd. There's so much more to learn than what we learn at the age of 5 or 6. But the author's intent was to say the core fundamentals are building blocks for a long life of learning and being a productive human being. If we don't get that right, it's likely we're going to have a difficult time later in life.
There are so many wonderful beauty education programs with school owners and administrators who strive for excellence in education. They are the rule and not the exception. But beauty education is under attack right now. The federal government is challenging the beauty school system. State governments are challenging the need for licensure. And lawyers with less than desirable intentions are waging lawsuits that aim to financially cripple educational facilities, whether by intent or unintended consequence.
Do you want to know why we're struggling with deregulation? Why society doesn't take this industry seriously? Because this meme appears, and others like it, seeming to diminish the value of beauty school education and it is lapped up happily by many of us, making this industry appear weak and seeking its own destruction by affirming exactly what lawyers, politicians, and those outside of the industry believe and use against it. We all do it because it's funny and everyone has an appreciation for self-deprecating humor, but all eyes are on us.
We are an ecosystem reliant upon each other. Consumers need salons to offer beauty services. Salons need licensed professionals to service consumers. Professionals need schools to get licensed and work in salons. Schools need students with a desire to learn and succeed in the beauty industry. Students need schools to train them and salons to hire them. The cycle repeats itself and manufacturers rely on all of the above to sell their products. It does not serve our industry well when we turn on each other, point fingers at the other, attack or make fun of each other. We must raise the bar for this industry and lift each other up in order to survive and, more than that, establish beauty careers as the legitimate and premiere careers they are.
I hope you’ll join me to always represent this industry in the highest light. Don’t diminish yourself, your peers, or your profession for the sake of a good laugh. Think before you "Like" or "Share" memes that might damage the image of this industry. And most of all act and speak in unity with every part of this industry. You know what they say: united we stand, divided... well, let's not go there!
Sandra Bruce is the Executive Director of Milady, a learning solutions provider serving the beauty industry