Each teenage client comes to us with their own individual personality and aesthetic issues. However, there is one commonality the majority of our younger clients share. It is their concerns about appearing attractive to their peers. To really be useful to teenagers we must understand that this universal focus of wanting to look as good as they possibly can is very important to adolescents who are just coming of age.
The wonderful thing about accommodating youth is their willingness to express themselves honesty. They are young and therefore, still developing their maturity. Because of their age, even though they are feeling the need to articulate their thoughts, they lack the experience to cover over a lot of their emotions by presenting themselves in a manner that is less than truthful. If we are aware of this dynamic and make ourselves more sensitive to their way of communicating, we can quickly detect some of the ways they choose as outlets to voice their feelings. Being extra attentive to these signals can save us a lot of time in trying to determine what they are really trying to say to us about our services and our products. Not being able to identify our teen clients’ emotions is a major cause of unnecessary misunderstandings when providing aesthetic care to them.
Like my friends I grew up with, I too found my adolescent years difficult to navigate, mainly because of society’s inability to hear or to care what I was saying. I lacked the outlets to express myself better. The excessive work activities I was engaged in during my middle and high school years did little to help the situation except to better assist me in masking or numbing my feelings.
My peers and I used all kinds of aesthetic techniques to express ourselves socially. We were really into makeup, fashion, jewelry, hair styling and nail care. We were all-too-willing to be dominated by one another and to trust each other’s opinions over those of our own. Of course, what our parents had to say on the subject was not even factored into the equation. We had our own ideas about how short our skirts should be and how many buttons to leave open on our blouses. We did not care what they thought about us tripping or falling in the hallways at school in our stiletto heels we wore to class.
We were all about trends and being trendy – that was our main concern at the time. If one of us would have come forward to say we were following the dictates of an older person we would have been laughed out of our school yard. We were open to risk and did not even consider what older people thought. We were not at all reluctant, even if we did look foolish, to be accepted was all that mattered to us, and to be part of our group was worth any price we had to pay. Those of us who did not generally comply and who stood our ground on issues instead of being passive – became leaders. We either took over the group or splintered off and started our own.
As teenagers we were all about passion. We were excited about practically every new craze. Anything unique or different was worthy of our attention – a trait we would discover disappears with age as we grow to become more cautious. Time moved slowly in our teens. Days felt like weeks and weeks like months, with a year being immeasurable since we thought of it as an eternity. As teenagers many of us resented being held captive in school and were hungry and in a hurry to be in charge of our lives, which is why we rejected authority figures and being told what to do.
Here are just a few minor examples of what I believe we can learn from our own teenage experiences and that we can apply to working with adolescents in our aesthetic practices today. I personally think that we should…
- Never neglect the friends of our teenage clients
- Listen and demonstrate that we hear what they are saying by periodically, repeating what we heard them say – back to them
- Show enthusiasm for the things they mention that they are thrilled about (cut out an article or search the Internet for related subject matter)- basically, we need to take time out and make an effort to prove we are interested in what has captured their attention
- Not schedule their next appointment too far out in advance or, go ahead and risk them not showing up for it
- Make certain you do not betray them by backing up a statement you make for their own good with the support of another adult or authority figure in their lives – like one or both of their parents for example
- Talk to them about “new” trend related treatments, unique therapeutic approaches and makeup trends but do not expect them to jump at them until they can take them back to their friends to get their approval
- Offer 2-for-1 services, special treatment packages for 3 or more friends or set aside an afternoon just for the group at a discount rate
- Honor their attempts to explore aspects of their sexuality and try to refrain from making judgmental comments about the length of their skirts or the tightness of a garment they are wearing
- Allow them to experiment with makeup applications and instead of critiquing, coach them, with a series of questions that will promote revealing answers intended to bring them to a better understanding of what forms of cosmetic artistry they can use that will work better on their behalf
- Show respect for their opinions about our aesthetic applications and our home care regimens
More Resources on the Topic
Teens and Their Interest in Cosmetic Surgery
Tempting the Teen Market into Spas – A Middle Eastern Perspective
Helping Teens Express Feelings – by Susan Carney