Look Good, Feel Better: Beauty Therapy as Emotional Lbor by Sharma and Black – Article Example

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The paper "Look Good, Feel Better: Beauty Therapy as Emotional Labour by Sharma and Black"  is an outstanding example of an article on sociology. ‘ Emotional work’ or ‘ labour’ refers to work-place situations wherein workers have to “ convey emotions and preferably to appear as though those emotions are deeply held” as a job-requirement (Bryman 2004:104). This implies that the emotion is being modified or ‘ worked on’ which is equivalent to managing or even “ deep acting” ; irrespective of whether such attempts are successful or not, the attempt itself is still referred to as ‘ emotion work’ (Hochschild 1979, p.

561). Women, in general, are expected to do more of such ‘ emotion work’ as compared to men that leads to deference (Hochschild 2012, p. 168) especially in jobs which have been traditionally handled by women like nursing and flight-attendants. Beauty therapists too fall under this category – argue sociology researchers Sharma and Black (2001) in their article titled “ Look good, feel better: beauty therapy as emotional labour” . This essay shall briefly summarize the aforementioned article and explain how the researchers perceive the self-views’ of beauty therapists in bettering their clients’ feelings rather than their looks, as strategic rhetoric to improve their professional prospects.

While the stand of Sharma and Black (2001) is partially accurate, it needs to take a deeper look into some aspects of the emotional labour of beauty therapists devoid the protection of a union, and that differences in personalities determine the genuineness of the of emotion work rendered. The emotional labour of flight attendants differs from that of beauty therapists, more empirical research may be needed to determine the real impact of the ‘ gendered, but non-sexualized’ emotion work of the latter. Article Summary Researchers Sharma and Black (2001) have taken a different perspective through which they have studied the fast-growing beauty industry; instead of looking into the quality of treatment on the outward looks of clients seeking beauty therapy, they choose to look into the internal betterment brought about by the beauty therapists on their clients.

The research was conducted in two industrial cities by interviewing “ eight members of staff” of a college (called Northern College) and “ seven other experienced therapists and salon owners” (Sharma and Black 2001, p.

916). Citing statistics from the Beauty Industry survey in the United Kingdom, the research points out that there are 10,440 therapists working in 7,131outlets and their wages average to £ 3.92/hour (p. 915); the research chooses to look into the self-image of the therapists and the way they explain their work as impacting their clients’ ‘ feelings’ in a positive way. The therapists consider themselves ‘ professionals’ despite the low wages because a) they have intricate knowledge of the human body and b) they deal with their clients as professionals (Sharma and Black 2001, p.

917). Furthermore, the therapists fully-well realize that they change that they affected were on the appearance and it also required the help of products and technical types of equipment; however, they preferred to emphasize on their clients’ release of the stress and relaxation and the bolstering of self-confidence, the “ pampered feeling” that their individualized therapies accorded (p. 918-20). The partial privacy of the surroundings in which the services are rendered by these therapists requiring the trust-building in the client-therapist relationship and the influence of the individual styles on the dynamics of the therapy are visible in the way that customers move along with a particular therapist when she changes the work-place.

The researchers argue that in the talk of rendering ‘ emotional labour’ or working on the improving the feelings and self-confidence is a strategy that therapists engage in collectively albeit in an unorganized manner, “ to place their work in a more serious and positive light” (Sharma and Black 2001, p. 921). They also add that beauty therapy is a gendered work involving only women and offered almost exclusively to women (excepting a few selected men).


Bryman, A. (2004) The Disneyization of Society, London: Sage. Pp 4 – 127.

Hochschild, Russell Arlie (1979). “Emotion Work, Feeling Rules, and Social Structure” in American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 85, No. 3 (Nov. 1979), pp. 551-575.

Hochschild, A (1983/2012). The Managed Heart, California: University of California Press. Pp. 7-168.

Leidner, R (1993) Fast food, fast talk: Service work and the routinization of everyday life, London: University of California Press. P. 24.

Sharma, Ursula, and Black, Paula (2001). “Look Good, Feel Better: Beauty Therapy as Emotional Labour Sociology 2001 35: 913. Online version retrieved from http://soc.sagepub.com/content/35/4/913

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