6 October 2022

This Controversial Illinois Law Is Changing the Salon Industry – But Will It Help Fight Abuse?

Beginning this month, lawmakers in Illinois are mandating hairstylists to complete one hour of training, every two years, on recognizing the signs of physical and emotional abuse and sexual assault.

As the training is compulsory, licenses will not be renewed without completion of this training. Nail technicians and aestheticians are also affected by this new law.

Why lawmakers are making this a requirement
The rationale behind the law is that women often form bonds with their hairstylists and therefore, in theory making the professionals well-positioned to offer up advice on how and where to seek help. While this certainly is true in many cases, it is by no means all-encompassing. During my relaxed days, I saw the same hairdresser consistently, sometimes once a week and yet, I never shared anything about my personal life with her. I loved her skills and she was affordable, but that was it for me. I am sure there are many other clients out there like me, and with abuse being such an uncomfortable topic for many women, I personally do not think it is fair to make it mandatory for all hairstylists to get training. Many abused women tend to refuse help from family and friends, so will a hair stylist render any different results? Perhaps, but that is to be determined.

How effective will this new law be?
It is clear that lawmakers are trying to do a good deed by requiring salons to get mandatory training, but it seems that forcing a hairstylist to get training in an area so unrelated to their field is putting them in an unfair position. One in four women are abused by a partner, as are one in every seven males. The law was not stated that barbers are mandated to be trained as well – why is that? Are abused men just supposed to fend for themselves? Many spouses and partners who are abused are also kept closely guarded from the outside world. Once word of this new Illinois regulation gets out, there is a chance that the victims will be forbidden to visit a salon whatsoever.

It also seems to me that it is also putting the stylist in such a position makes them a target for the abuser should their victim confide in a hairstylist. If an abuser finds out that they have encouraged the abused spouse to leave, they could retaliate against the hairstylist. What safeguards are going to be put into place to keep these good samaritans safe?

We need to keep standing up and speaking out against abuse of any kind.
We also need to ensure that women and men who are abused are made aware that there is a way out and help is out there. We also need to ensure that the shame and stigma that are carried around by the victims of abuse is counteracted, or putting their issues out there in an environment as public as a hair salon may do more harm than good. Many people want to help, and some salon professionals would gladly display posters and have flyers available for victims or suspected victims of abuse to access. However, we must consider the fairness of a stylist’s livelihood being challenged by a government attempting to legislate good will? What group of professionals will next be forced to be trained to identify the signs of abuse? Controversial or not, this new law has sparked much needed conversation on domestic abuse.

What’s your take on this new Illinois law?

By Vanessa Osbourne from www.naturallycurly.com


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