Beauty parlors, long the sanctuaries of females, now must indiscriminately open their doors and face up to men.
Ironically, it was the Women’s Liberation Movement that catalyzed the end of the Massachusetts Puritanical law that for years obliged any male bent on beautification to travel across the border to the less discriminatory states of Connecticut and New York.
But as of Sept. 21, the state law forbidding a man from reaping a parlor’s beauteous benefits was lifted. Just as a female can take her place at a former men’s bar and order a draft beer or a dry martini, so can a male now sit back in a beauty salon and enjoy a facial, scalp treatment or just a simple manicure.
There are beauty salon owners in the Berkshires who never agreed with the male ban in the first place and who therefore have hailed its termination. The law apparently was instituted long ago to halt negotiations for certain physical fringe benefits in the back room of some beauty businesses.
But now, with the ban lifted, some personnel here foresee a potential business boom for beauty salons. Will men want the services of a beauty parlor is the only question, but several female employees have no doubt they will.
“Men are actually vainer than women,” was one of the female beauticians’ comments.
Mrs. Mildred Woodard, owner of the Mayfair Beauty Salon on 260 North St., recalled that she has actually had to turn men away from the shop in the past. “Especially the bankers and lawyers; they’re the ones who usually want manicures,” she said.
Mrs. Carmela Sias, owner and proprietor of the Vanity Fair Beauty Salon & Junior at 498 Tyler St., concurred. “We won’t be competing with barbers, either,” she said, noting that few barbers engage in hair shampooing, coloring or shaping, some of the specialties of beauty parlors.
“Those who want a plain haircut will still go to the barber,” Mrs. Sias said, “but if a man wants something special done to his hair, he can come to us.”
This Story in History is selected from the archives by Jeannie Maschino, The Berkshire Eagle.