Author Topic: This is Uncomfortable podcast  (Read 4207 times)

katethekitcat

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This is Uncomfortable podcast
« on: June 17, 2019, 01:25:46 PM »
Marketplace has a new podcast out called This is Uncomfortable (https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/this-is-uncomfortable-marketplace-fxWQJ8tITgC/) which discusses how money affects relationships. Sounded like a good show, so I downloaded the first episode, which is about how a couple - one with massive student debt, the other in a strong financial situation - navigated their finances and the power imbalances it created in their relationship.

This was an excellently produced podcast, and I'll definitely keep listening. But what struck me was how the woman was simultaneously complaining of being broke...and spending $250 a month on hair and nails, for a total of $3,000 a year. After months of her fiance paying 100% of the rent (in a 2-bedroom, 2-bath apartment for just two of them!) so that she could put all the money she had towards her $100K in student loans, she'd paid off less than $15K total.

So great conversation - but striking how their conversations were treating the debt like an emergency, but their actions weren't.

Just Joe

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Re: This is Uncomfortable podcast
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2019, 07:36:19 AM »
Thanks for the podcast heads up. Lots to listen to. I'll add this to my list.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2019, 07:41:13 AM by Just Joe »

nereo

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Re: This is Uncomfortable podcast
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2019, 08:06:10 AM »
I actually listened to that podcast, and my impression was that our current attitudes towards discussing money actually contribute to the behavior of the couple highlighted in the first episode.  We stress looking professional and normalize going to a salon or out to eat or having a car loan. These behaviors get re-enforced via social media and marketing. Then we make it practically taboo to discuss income, debt load and financial stress.  Not surprisingly the emphasis is placed on living a "normal" life and not on paying down the 'hair-on-fire-debt-emergency'.

katethekitcat

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Re: This is Uncomfortable podcast
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2019, 02:00:46 PM »
I actually listened to that podcast, and my impression was that our current attitudes towards discussing money actually contribute to the behavior of the couple highlighted in the first episode.  We stress looking professional and normalize going to a salon or out to eat or having a car loan. These behaviors get re-enforced via social media and marketing. Then we make it practically taboo to discuss income, debt load and financial stress.  Not surprisingly the emphasis is placed on living a "normal" life and not on paying down the 'hair-on-fire-debt-emergency'.


That's a good point, and I complete agree. I don't think anyone listening to the podcast would be shocked they had debt, OR that so much money got spent on maintaining that "normal life."

peeps_be_peeping

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Re: This is Uncomfortable podcast
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2019, 04:09:49 PM »
But what struck me was how the woman was simultaneously complaining of being broke...and spending $250 a month on hair and nails, for a total of $3,000 a year.

I think her hair and nails are business expenses, though they did not present it that way in the podcast. In many markets and industries, a professional woman is expected to look and dress a certain way, probably Dallas is such a place. Women's hair simply costs a lot to ensure it conforms to what employers and clients think professional hair should look like. Ditto for nails. It's like dry cleaning expenses if you have to wear suits all the time.

I was curious about their salaries in relation to the woman's student loan debt and other fixed expenses like rent, though they never gave us that information. If they were each making 6-figures, then $100k in debt isn't as great a burden as if they were each making $35k.

Villanelle

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Re: This is Uncomfortable podcast
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2019, 04:26:01 PM »
But what struck me was how the woman was simultaneously complaining of being broke...and spending $250 a month on hair and nails, for a total of $3,000 a year.

I think her hair and nails are business expenses, though they did not present it that way in the podcast. In many markets and industries, a professional woman is expected to look and dress a certain way, probably Dallas is such a place. Women's hair simply costs a lot to ensure it conforms to what employers and clients think professional hair should look like. Ditto for nails. It's like dry cleaning expenses if you have to wear suits all the time.

I was curious about their salaries in relation to the woman's student loan debt and other fixed expenses like rent, though they never gave us that information. If they were each making 6-figures, then $100k in debt isn't as great a burden as if they were each making $35k.

Doing one's own nails is incredibly cheap and easy, with very will skill or practice required.  And hair, in most cases (though there are some exceptions, especially with ethnic hair), need not be expensive to maintain, either.  This is usually something people say to excuse expenses they enjoy too much to cut. 


TheGrimSqueaker

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Re: This is Uncomfortable podcast
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2019, 10:23:10 AM »
But what struck me was how the woman was simultaneously complaining of being broke...and spending $250 a month on hair and nails, for a total of $3,000 a year.

I think her hair and nails are business expenses, though they did not present it that way in the podcast. In many markets and industries, a professional woman is expected to look and dress a certain way, probably Dallas is such a place. Women's hair simply costs a lot to ensure it conforms to what employers and clients think professional hair should look like. Ditto for nails. It's like dry cleaning expenses if you have to wear suits all the time.

I was curious about their salaries in relation to the woman's student loan debt and other fixed expenses like rent, though they never gave us that information. If they were each making 6-figures, then $100k in debt isn't as great a burden as if they were each making $35k.

Doing one's own nails is incredibly cheap and easy, with very will skill or practice required.  And hair, in most cases (though there are some exceptions, especially with ethnic hair), need not be expensive to maintain, either.  This is usually something people say to excuse expenses they enjoy too much to cut.

I was just going to make a comment about the price of nail polish but you beat me to it. A neat, professional appearance doesn't actually require people to spend large amounts of money getting work done professionally.

Hair doesn't have to be expensive. There are high-maintenance, high-cost options for hair, especially female hair, no matter what ethnicity a person has. But there are also lower-maintenance, lower-cost options. A pale person doesn't *need* highlights, extensions, lowlights, or a Brazilian blowout just because they're pale or European-looking. There are other flattering styles and cuts that look professional. And no, it's not necessary to pay a professional every time a person needs to operate tweezers.

The only exception I can think of offhand is if the person makes their living as a model or (real) social media influencer, based on having a high-maintenance appearance. Aside from that, spending on obviously expensive cosmetics and beauty treatments is simply a form of conspicuous consumption.

DadJokes

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Re: This is Uncomfortable podcast
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2019, 03:33:23 PM »
Women's hair simply costs a lot to ensure it conforms to what employers and clients think professional hair should look like. Ditto for nails. It's like dry cleaning expenses if you have to wear suits all the time.

That's quite the limiting belief.

peeps_be_peeping

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Re: This is Uncomfortable podcast
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2019, 04:15:19 PM »
It's not my lived experience. I get my hair "done" for $9.99 at Great Clips and trim my nails by asking my dogs to gnaw them off when they get too long. I was trying to imagine what it might be like for a (I believe based on vocal cues and names) black woman trying to succeed in a professional arena where employers and clients may be judging her professionalism based on her appearance. It sucks but it happens. Appearance may be required for her to get and keep a good job. I'm trying to imagine a life where $250/month feels like necessity. Thought experiments and what not. Not everybody has Pantene hair and wolves for co-irkers.

TheGrimSqueaker

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Re: This is Uncomfortable podcast
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2019, 07:52:40 AM »
It's not my lived experience. I get my hair "done" for $9.99 at Great Clips and trim my nails by asking my dogs to gnaw them off when they get too long. I was trying to imagine what it might be like for a (I believe based on vocal cues and names) black woman trying to succeed in a professional arena where employers and clients may be judging her professionalism based on her appearance. It sucks but it happens. Appearance may be required for her to get and keep a good job. I'm trying to imagine a life where $250/month feels like necessity. Thought experiments and what not. Not everybody has Pantene hair and wolves for co-irkers.

Hmm. One of my co-workers is from Nigeria, and she wears her hair in an Afro. It's not that she couldn't afford expensive extensions and braids if she wanted them, but she has other financial priorities and also a toddler. Braids, extensions, and toddlers simply don't go together. But nobody has ever made the slightest suggestion that her natural hair isn't professional. I've seen other professional women of recent African descent with Afros, close-cropped hair, or even the full Dora Milaje look, and it's gorgeous. Cornrows are a viable option, and some of the women who wear them explain that they get together with their sisters, daughters, and friends to braid each other's hair at home. It's a skill that requires practice but it's also a very common skill for them to acquire particularly since there's a major social aspect to it. Some of the women in my workplace do appear to straighten their hair or to wear wigs, but I very seldom see TV-style extensions or long braids. One style I've never seen at work is dreadlocks.

I tend to see the more expensive hair styles on people who work in the service industry, generally in conjunction with extremely fancy nails that are obviously fake. This, by the way, isn't confined to any ethnic group but it's very common in the service industry. It doesn't appear to me that wages in that sector are high enough to justify salon prices, so my first guess would be that the women who sport fancy hair and nails have a friend or family member in that line of work.

Ynari

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Re: This is Uncomfortable podcast
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2019, 10:04:13 AM »
It's not my lived experience. I get my hair "done" for $9.99 at Great Clips and trim my nails by asking my dogs to gnaw them off when they get too long. I was trying to imagine what it might be like for a (I believe based on vocal cues and names) black woman trying to succeed in a professional arena where employers and clients may be judging her professionalism based on her appearance. It sucks but it happens. Appearance may be required for her to get and keep a good job. I'm trying to imagine a life where $250/month feels like necessity. Thought experiments and what not. Not everybody has Pantene hair and wolves for co-irkers.

Hmm. One of my co-workers is from Nigeria, and she wears her hair in an Afro. It's not that she couldn't afford expensive extensions and braids if she wanted them, but she has other financial priorities and also a toddler. Braids, extensions, and toddlers simply don't go together. But nobody has ever made the slightest suggestion that her natural hair isn't professional. I've seen other professional women of recent African descent with Afros, close-cropped hair, or even the full Dora Milaje look, and it's gorgeous. Cornrows are a viable option, and some of the women who wear them explain that they get together with their sisters, daughters, and friends to braid each other's hair at home. It's a skill that requires practice but it's also a very common skill for them to acquire particularly since there's a major social aspect to it. Some of the women in my workplace do appear to straighten their hair or to wear wigs, but I very seldom see TV-style extensions or long braids. One style I've never seen at work is dreadlocks.

I tend to see the more expensive hair styles on people who work in the service industry, generally in conjunction with extremely fancy nails that are obviously fake. This, by the way, isn't confined to any ethnic group but it's very common in the service industry. It doesn't appear to me that wages in that sector are high enough to justify salon prices, so my first guess would be that the women who sport fancy hair and nails have a friend or family member in that line of work.

I am so far from an expert on this, I feel like I shouldn't be posting. But I do know there's a lot more tied up in hair than finances - and often, it's more complicated for someone who grew up in America than for someone who immigrated in adulthood.

An episode of Queer Eye touched on this - the woman in the show has been perming her hair since middle school as one way to minimize bullying. The author of the article linked also suggests that it's a neutral way of interacting with other black women when she was so ostracized - too black but never black enough. The author also links to two film trailers: Nappily Every After and Good Hair (somebody in the trailer mentions layaway! For hair!)

So yes, it's a skill, and there are options. But they are complex trade offs that many consider worth the $$$, given the community mores and decades of social response they've lived through. It's especially hard in places where the (sub?)conscious bias against black hair in professional environments is still strong, though it does seem that there is a significant amount of change in this aspect in recent years.

Racer X

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Re: This is Uncomfortable podcast
« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2019, 11:53:22 AM »
Reminds of me the time we were reviewing annual expenses and my wife said, "Holy cow!  Do you know we spent $600 in hair cuts this past year?"

I am bald.  I shave my head.  I haven't seen a barber in 10 years.

"We?"  I asked.  She piped right down after that. 

jinga nation

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Re: This is Uncomfortable podcast
« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2019, 07:07:57 AM »
Reminds of me the time we were reviewing annual expenses and my wife said, "Holy cow!  Do you know we spent $600 in hair cuts this past year?"

I am bald.  I shave my head.  I haven't seen a barber in 10 years.

"We?"  I asked.  She piped right down after that.
Word.
I pre-pay for my haircuts - great clips sells the cards around christmas. 6 haircuts + tip, worst-case $90-100 annual.
Wife once said that I tip too much, blah, yadda.
my response was to remind her of her 3-4 haircuits, each at least $50, plus a 10-15 tip.
Shut that pie hole in record time.
I still love her despite her daft comments; she's more frugal than me. And i thought I'm cheap.
She learnt to cut our kids' hair by watching videos online, got a pair of pro-scissors, does a great job.

A Fella from Stella

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Re: This is Uncomfortable podcast
« Reply #13 on: June 25, 2019, 08:36:51 AM »
Women's hair simply costs a lot to ensure it conforms to what employers and clients think professional hair should look like. Ditto for nails. It's like dry cleaning expenses if you have to wear suits all the time.

That's quite the limiting belief.

My wife gets her hair cut every 6 months, and never colors it (because of how harmful the chemicals are - please watch the Chris Rock doc "Good Hair"). I have 4 daughters. One goes to the barber with me, so her hair is cut more frequently, but the other 3 might go 3x a year.

I will say, though, we do buy $20+ bottles of shampoo/conditioner. The younger kids get $5 bottles.

bridget

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Re: This is Uncomfortable podcast
« Reply #14 on: June 25, 2019, 08:46:34 AM »
I really liked the podcast, from the perspective of someone who has a healthy net worth and is dating someone with a lot of student debt.  I thought it was really sweet how the boyfriend was good at optimizing without loading it up with emotion - the math just made sense for him to contribute to her debt if they were going to be building a life together. It does seem like something that's really tough to do without creating resentment or feelings of obligation, and I'm rooting for them. 

Put me in the camp of finding it not ok to criticize (or even comment on, really) how a woman of color handles her hair. The topic is just WAY too racially and politically loaded for me as a white woman to have any opinion on. Plus, neither of them seem interested in FIRE, so if they keep working in their MBA jobs for the indefinite future, this is a totally manageable expense. Plenty of us here spend similar amounts on things that other people don't get, and we just work it out in other parts of our spending (see e.g. the housecleaners thread, cross fit, kids, pets, travel, whatever).

Nicholas Carter

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Re: This is Uncomfortable podcast
« Reply #15 on: June 25, 2019, 05:56:45 PM »
Snipped experience
Counter to this. I have a friend who lost a job for failure to abide by dress code policy on "the length of mens hair and beard guidelines". My friend is Jewish, belonging to a sect which places restrictions on hairstyles incompatible with the guidelines.
I think this is one of those things that varies by region and industry, so its either not even a thing, or something that just straight ends careers.

Fae

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Re: This is Uncomfortable podcast
« Reply #16 on: June 26, 2019, 05:38:44 AM »
Snipped experience
Counter to this. I have a friend who lost a job for failure to abide by dress code policy on "the length of mens hair and beard guidelines". My friend is Jewish, belonging to a sect which places restrictions on hairstyles incompatible with the guidelines.
I think this is one of those things that varies by region and industry, so its either not even a thing, or something that just straight ends careers.

If this was in the U.S. firing him over his religious restrictions on hair was/is illegal, outside of some limited circumstances. Here in the U.S. federal law says that if an employee can't do something the employer must work with them to try and find a reasonable accommodation that doesn't cause hardship for the employer. For example, if the company had standard break times but an employee needed to pray at certain times of the day, a reasonable accommodation might be to schedule his breaks at those times. Unless there was a health and Safety related reason for the "mens hair and beard guidelines", firing your friend would be illegal. And I mean something along the lines of : he does a job that requires a face mask (like a fireman) that needs to be tightly fitted around the head and if the beard is too bushy/unkempt you don't get a good seal.

Kitsunegari

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Re: This is Uncomfortable podcast
« Reply #17 on: June 26, 2019, 06:19:42 PM »
As a white woman, I already lost a job for failing to meet expectations over grooming, specifically not blow-dry my hair and not wearing make up. I simply never bothered to learn, so even after HR told me to improve, well i just didn't learn fast enough to keep my job. I can't imagine how much harder it's for black women.
Gotta say, it was easily the workplace with the worst subculture i have ever worked for. I was relieved of being dismissed.

A Fella from Stella

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Re: This is Uncomfortable podcast
« Reply #18 on: June 26, 2019, 09:06:13 PM »
As a white woman, I already lost a job for failing to meet expectations over grooming, specifically not blow-dry my hair and not wearing make up. I simply never bothered to learn, so even after HR told me to improve, well i just didn't learn fast enough to keep my job. I can't imagine how much harder it's for black women.
Gotta say, it was easily the workplace with the worst subculture i have ever worked for. I was relieved of being dismissed.

Sounds very shitty. I mean were you coming in with drippy hair and destroying everything electronic?

Makeup is terrible for your skin, and women who don't wear it look so much better when they are older. The other day I got into the elevator with a woman I would have definitely thought was maybe 40, but as she exited I saw those old-ass elbows and realized she might have been 55 or older.

Kitsunegari

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Re: This is Uncomfortable podcast
« Reply #19 on: June 27, 2019, 07:04:27 AM »
As a white woman, I already lost a job for failing to meet expectations over grooming, specifically not blow-dry my hair and not wearing make up. I simply never bothered to learn, so even after HR told me to improve, well i just didn't learn fast enough to keep my job. I can't imagine how much harder it's for black women.
Gotta say, it was easily the workplace with the worst subculture i have ever worked for. I was relieved of being dismissed.

Sounds very shitty. I mean were you coming in with drippy hair and destroying everything electronic?


I was a hotel receptionist in a 4* in Italy, and there is no way I'm gonna style my hair and do my make-up before the 7am shift, especially if i did the 15h-to-midnight shift the day before (which is illegal scheduling, btw)

A Fella from Stella

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Re: This is Uncomfortable podcast
« Reply #20 on: June 27, 2019, 08:12:43 AM »
As a white woman, I already lost a job for failing to meet expectations over grooming, specifically not blow-dry my hair and not wearing make up. I simply never bothered to learn, so even after HR told me to improve, well i just didn't learn fast enough to keep my job. I can't imagine how much harder it's for black women.
Gotta say, it was easily the workplace with the worst subculture i have ever worked for. I was relieved of being dismissed.

Sounds very shitty. I mean were you coming in with drippy hair and destroying everything electronic?


I was a hotel receptionist in a 4* in Italy, and there is no way I'm gonna style my hair and do my make-up before the 7am shift, especially if i did the 15h-to-midnight shift the day before (which is illegal scheduling, btw)


Since management is never wrong, I must assume you greeted everyone by whipping your head back and forth like a cat-o-nine-tails, striking any fool within reach, and soaking all bystanders. I'm not saying you didn't have cause; I'm just saying that I can see both sides.