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Fascinating. I can tell you that my first visit to a beauty shop with mom was an important rite of passage and both my father and my brothers looked at me differently when we returned home. Hmmm, maybe it was the new 'do they were checking out. The movie, 'The Man Who Wasn't There,' features Billy Bob Thornton as a barber and has some great scenes in a beauty of a barber shop. Quirky film that has our house in the background with the house across the street from us as the angst ridden barber's house. Frances McDormand is, of course, wonderful.


I have to wonder about your assertion that few women worked outside the home during the 19th century. The success of the industrial revolution -- in the U.K. at least -- was built upon the cheap labour of women (and children).

I remember reading British statistics indicating that women made up 1/3 of the workforce at the beginning of the 20th century. Their work was often part-time or temporary in nature. They would have had very little disposable income for such luxuries as beauty salons.

I would imagine that what money they did earn was often paid directly to their husbands and fathers or they themselves turned it over to them.

John Ptak

Jasper: I think that you're at least partially right in that I've underestimated the working population of women, though I don't recall the industrial revolution being built on their backs. I think you're right too about where their money went--I seem to recall that in a number of our western states that women didn't have a right to money earned on the job, just as they didn't have automatic rights to her children in the case of a divorce brought by the husband. In any event this is a much more complex deal than I've allowed for, surely--mostly I was just thinking out loud. Overall though I think you're correct. Thanks!!


Regarding your guess that 19th century women cut their hair at home:
Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" books were among my favorites when I was growing up. In one of the books Laura, showing some rebellious teenager ideas, cut her hair so she had bangs, which she then curled with a pencil she had heated over a lamp. It wasn't exactly scandalous, as it was apparently the fashion trend, but Ma wasn't impressed.

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