DARE TO ASK: What's best way to handle breast issue?
By PHILLIP MILANO, The Times-Union
If you're a male client, where does your female hairstylist expect you to
look when she's leaning in front of you, exposing ample cleavage?
Lee, 37, male, Fairfax, Va.
Good boys always look forward and behave when they get their hair cut. If
there happens to be a pair of enormous breasts there, it's not your fault. Enjoy
your haircut, and when she asks you if everything looks OK, just keep telling
her your bangs need to be trimmed up more.
Joey, 25, Houston
Women earn little money and have mouths to feed. They need the tip to fill
their kids' bellies. Showing cleavage = good tips = well-fed kids. To men: In
order to be polite, look elsewhere and tip well. If all men didn't look, but
tipped well, a woman wouldn't have to manipulate men's weakness and lower her
A., 34, female, Tampa
Phone call to the spokeswoman for the National Cosmetology Association in
Chicago = lots of good-natured laughs on the other end and a promise to get back
quickly with a great response = no way in hell will she actually be calling back
because you can keep dreamin' if you think she's getting mixed up in this one.
Therefore, it is left to Leah Ingram, certified etiquette and protocol
consultant and author of nine books, including The Everything Etiquette Book: A
Modern-Day Guide to Good Manners (Adams Media) to address this most-titillating
She breaks it down thusly:
The stylist either a) has no idea what she is exposing, or b) is an
"In the first case, pointing it out may embarrass her and affect any
long-term customer relationship with her - and she may think you're harassing
her," Ingram said. "In the second, if she's trying to get a rise out of a
client, do you really want to put yourself in a situation where you're in the
stylist chair and she's trying to turn you on? It's really a lose-lose situation
if you verbalize anything."
Regarding where to cast thine eyes, Ingram advised keeping them shut.
"If she's in your face with her rack, try not to make a big issue of it. If
the guy's uncomfortable - which he appears to be or he wouldn't have asked the
question - he needs to find a new stylist. So often people are surprised to hear
that doing nothing is the best way to handle these things. The initial instinct
is to say something to try to fix it. But it doesn't always work."
In general, it's a breach of etiquette to "have a look," because wearing a
revealing blouse, no matter how low-cut, does not constitute an invitation to
ogle, especially in a public place such as a salon, Ingram said.
Besides, your time with a hairstylist is just that: your time. Ingram advises
using it to relax or even meditate.
"That's what I do when I'm getting my hair cut. So unless the stylist needs
me to refer to something, I've got my eyes closed. If this guy were to do the
same, he wouldn't be faced with her bosom and tempted to say, 'Um, could you put
those away?' "
Phillip Milano, author of I Can't Believe You Asked That! (Perigee),
moderates cross-cultural dialogue at Y? The National Forum on People's
Differences. Visit www.yforum.com to submit questions and answers, or mail to
Phillip Milano, c/o The Florida Times-Union, P.O. Box 1949, Jacksonville, FL
32231. Include contact information.