As beauty professionals who call attention to shady practices and objectionable marketing, we’re accustomed to being labeled “bullies” and criticized for “bringing negativity” and failing to “uplift” others. We respectfully disagree. There are some important distinctions between what constitutes “bullying” and what we do when asking valid questions, doing our research and sharing information about:
- the evidence of marketing claims
- the legality of a business’s employment practices
- the qualifications of a professional
- the practical application of state board regulations
- the potential risks associated with a particular technique
- the latest in product chemistry and much more.
Through our work, we position ourselves as advocates because we’re seeking truth, not approval. We don’t care about likes and shares and won’t massage egos. We advocate because we care about our chosen profession. Determined to do the right thing, we’re prepared to initiate and engage in uncomfortable conversations and hold others accountable for their words and actions.
a person who speaks or writes in support or defense of a person, cause, etc.
to speak or write in favor of; support or urge by argument; recommend publicly
Advocates don’t bring negativity any more than Batman brings crime to Gotham. That negativity exists, whether others acknowledge it or not. Advocates simply expose those negative elements within our industry that have the potential to inhibit and exploit us.
“No one loves the messenger who brings bad news.” (Sophocles) and we’re okay with that.
What’s not acceptable is calling an advocate a “bully” when confronted with information you don’t believe or like, a defensive reaction that’s neither warranted nor productive. To illustrate our point, let’s examine the definition of “bully:”
a person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker
use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants
Advocates do not use “strength or power;” they use facts and logic. Our credibility depends on the accuracy of our information and the logic of our reasoning. Any “power” we have derives from knowledge gained through careful research and collective experience.
While we may inspire change, to claim that equates to “attacking the weak” or “intimidating” anyone would be highly inaccurate. By definition, advocates work to defend the weak from more powerful influences. Our purpose is to inform anyone willing to listen, especially those without the resources or experience to make better decisions, or who may lack a platform for speaking out.
Some of us learn from other people’s mistakes and the rest of us have to be the other people. -Zig Ziglar
It’s our responsibility to educate others so they don’t knowingly make mistakes and bad choices in the first place. Professionals can’t be expected to do better unless they know better. These lessons aren’t taught in beauty school, but they’re critical to ensuring career success.
As Daniel Patrick Moynihan so eloquently asserted: Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts.
It’s one thing to disagree with opinions and present opposing experiences; it’s another to defer to your personal experiences and ignore actual facts. For example, whether you agree with applicable laws or the reasoning behind their existence is completely irrelevant. The fact is they exist and you’re legally obligated to comply. The authorities tasked with enforcing these laws do not care whether you believe they’re “fair.” If you disagree with the laws so strongly, take your complaints to the people who have the authority to change them.
Those who don’t want to expose themselves to contradictory opinions deny themselves the opportunity to grow as a professional.
We don’t control how relevant information makes anyone feel; any negative emotional response is not our concern. Nor is it our fault should anyone take personal offense to the facts presented. If facts contradict what someone would have you believe, so be it and should that somehow diminish someone’s power, any “harm” would be self-inflicted. We do not “force” anyone to take action. As always, what you choose to do is your responsibility.
Advocates are often criticized for not “uplifting” others, and that is patently false. We leave the “uplifting” to motivational coaches and focus on what actually does matter: elevating. Collaboratively, we need to elevate professionalism and business practices in our industry, even if some bad actors feel harmed, intimidated or criticized in the process.
Time is precious, and we can’t devote ourselves to every Facebook group, crusading against every keyboard warrior giving bad advice or behaving badly, but we’ll be watching. When we see something that needs to be addressed, we’ll post about it and you can decide for yourself whose information has the most value and greatest potential to elevate our industry.