Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Las Vegas, me and a hair show.

LAS VEGAS—The nail-salon smell hit my nostrils as I walk inside the Las Vegas Convention Center for the 2009 International Beauty Show. I take a look at my badge, which reads BEAUTY PROFESSIONAL. No, I didn’t lie. I just didn’t answer when the lady at ticket counter asked to see my hair-dresser license. I left that to my friend Miguel, an actual beauty professional who was kind enough to invite me to a free trip to Las Vegas to get an inside look at the industry of beauty. That, and he didn't want to drive by himself.

I couldn't have been more out of place. My cargo shorts and Payless sandals were enough to get a few looks of disapproval from women carrying expensive designer bags and orange face glows.

While thousands of Iranians were marching due to a fraud election, I was roaming around isles that featured the latest pair of hair irons and blond extensions. Tables dedicated exclusively to beauty magazines and hair gel just blew my mind. Or maybe it was the fourth Jack Daniel’s Lemonade.

“Even in the recession people are going to spend money on beauty,” said Sally Bencke from, a networking site that focuses on connecting clients with beauty salons around the world.

I don’t know that people will choose to buy hair product over food if they lose their jobs, but you never know.

Like comic geeks at a ComiCon, these attendees were fascinated by products that probably cost more than the little spending cash I took to Vegas. At first, I was annoyed that such a convention existed. Come on, three days dedicated to an industry that makes chubby girls feel bad about themselves and dictates how one should look in order to feel better and succeed?

But my cynical attitude was subdued when I realized that I was doing exactly what I was making fun of in the first place. When Miguel described how he viewed his job as a form of artistic expression, I gave in. According to him, there aren't many things in life that we can control. Being able to create a masterpiece with your our hands and call it your own is priceless. What can I say? I'm a fool for the arts.

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