Not Another Beauty School Dropout


Time to (hair) brush off all the haters

By Elizabeth Salter

“Beauty school dropout, no graduation day for you,” sings Frankie Avalon dressed in all white alongside the Pink Ladies. “Beauty school dropout, missed your midterms and flunked shampoo.”

Many people can immediately picture this scene from Grease from the first few song lines, with Frenchy’s pink curls peeking over the camera as her teen guardian angel descends to encourage her to go back to high school with the help of a funky piano beat and heavenly background choir.

While this scene is lighthearted, it unknowingly relates back to a rather serious stigma surrounding careers in the beauty community, one that existed in 1978 with the release of Grease, and still exists 40 years later.

Pursuing a career in cosmetology is all but easy. The learning of vital skills itself can be grueling and time-consuming, but the backlash that comes after is far worse.

“What do you mean you only cut hair?”

Whether it has been acknowledged or not, there has always been a stigma surrounding beauty-based careers, such as hair, nail, and makeup artists. Not only are these careers considered less than in terms of higher-ranking, higher-paid counterparts, they are categorized as “hobbies” that can barely support one’s basic human needs.

Many foundations have decided to push back and rewrite the stigma surrounding cosmetology professions in their favor.

Founded in 2013, the Beauty Changes Lives Foundation has awarded five million dollars in scholarships to deserving applicants. It is their mission to “empower the next generation of beauty entrepreneurs, influencers, and visionaries,” according to their website, and with 42 total sponsors, they have the ability to offer scholarships for a variety of programs: hair styling, cosmetology, esthetics, and nails. Through these scholarships ranging from the highest of $15,000 to the lowest of $1,000, students can afford to pay for their schooling to learn the necessary skills to become licensed. Finishing up its fifth year, this foundation has tirelessly worked to changed the lives of over 300 human beings, with the hopes of growing.

Much like the Beauty Changes Lives Foundation, the Joe Francis Haircare Cosmetology Scholarship Foundation was established in 1994 “to help deserving students receive financial assistance for the professional training necessary to build successful, long-term, careers in the cosmetology industry,” according to their website. In 2017, 26 students received a $1,200 scholarship to help fund their education, totaling just over $31,000. In the two decades of its existence, the Joe Francis Haircare Cosmetology Scholarship Foundation has awarded over half a million dollars to well deserving students in the hope of inspiring them to choose cosmetology as their first choice profession.

With these foundations in place, and several others like it all over the country, it is possible to change the stereotypes that couple beauty-based careers and instead view them as outlets to inspire creativity for those that love to paint outside the lines.

Cover Image by @prettylittleombre

Staci Soslowitz