Dear Amy: I am a (female) hairstylist and own my small business.
I love my profession and am proud of what I have accomplished.
Inevitably when I am with others, my profession will come up in conversation.
Oftentimes the people around me will start talking about their hairstylist and begin complaining about how expensive the services are.
I hate this.
I feel immediately defensive. I know how hard I work. I wish they understood that it’s not an “easy” job.
I am on my feet for six to 10 hours a day. The overhead for rent, taxes, and products is high.
I’m sure people don’t understand these things, but I also don’t want to have to explain why I need to charge what I do every time I’m in mixed company.
I feel like my income is being talked about in front of me, and people are saying that I’m not worth it.
I don’t know any other professions that might have to deal with this. How should respond when this comes up (again and again)?
I would love to know how to handle this with a simple phrase, or do I have to just sit and stew?
— Knotted Up
Dear Knotted Up: I take slight exception to your assumption that people who practice other professions aren’t expected to explain themselves.
Try being a lawyer, physician, or plumber at a party. (Or an advice columnist.)
You don’t have to justify anything when it comes to what you charge for services because every consumer has a choice, and your loyal customers obviously know that you are worth what you charge.
You’ll feel better if you dial into your pride in the worth of what you do, versus feeling defensive about your right to make a good living.
(Think about that famous hair-care advertising campaign: “Why? Because I’m worth it!”)
Here’s a pro tip: A sense of humor always helps.
They: “Wow, I can’t believe what my hairdresser charges just to cut my hair!”
You: (Wait a beat) “… Well, you could always just cut it yourself. [Smile, throw in a subtle hair toss] After all, that’s what I do … otherwise, why pay someone else? Because you’re worth it.”
Dear Amy: Our son is engaged to his girlfriend of five months.
Prior to our knowledge of the engagement, he told us that his girlfriend’s parents wanted to meet us.
I told our son that the typical “meet the parents” moment usually occurs later — and since he had been dating his girlfriend for only five months, we barely even know her.
Our son insisted, so we went along with it, and “met the parents” at a casual dinner at their home.
We learned afterwards that our son and girlfriend were planning to get engaged, and everyone in attendance at the dinner knew that, except for us!
I feel betrayed and resentful toward our son. His insistence to go along with what felt like a “secret audition” at the request of her parents was condescending, rude and disrespectful.
They are now engaged (so we must’ve passed the audition), and I’ve never said a word about this to him, but I continue to have lingering resentment.
What do you think? Was this weird?
— Irritated Future In-laws
Dear Irritated: Your son seems to have handled this whole situation badly (at least when it comes to you). My theory is that his fiancée is driving the wedding train. Your son is a passenger, and you and your wife are standing on the platform, watching it slowly pull away from the station.
You were not “auditioning.” Your son is.
He seems to be trying to hew to an old tradition, where the man approaches the woman’s father, “asking for her hand.” This is why her parents knew about this before you did.
This tradition leaves out the groom’s parents. You will discover that many wedding traditions seem to be completely bride-centered.
This is why couples should reframe these traditions to be inclusive.
Dear Amy: “Guilty” described her desire to go on a cruise with her husband, but both of them were afraid of how her sister, a widow, would react.
I was deeply offended when you described this sister as “an emotional vampire,” just because she wants to be included.
Dear Upset: I described “Guilty’s” sister that way, not because she wants to be included, but because she had this couple tied up in knots with fear about telling her that they wanted to have a vacation on their own.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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