The Steel Magnolias Beauty Salon Is All I've Ever Wanted in an Appointment
Just like Clueless heroine Cher Horowitz, my main thrill in life is a makeover. But more specifically, makeover or beauty-focused scenes in movies. Because I can’t always be (or afford to be) in a salon chair myself, I’ve fulfilled my desire for total beauty transformation with movies. If it has a salon moment—think Princess Diaries, Legally Blonde, The Devil Wears Prada—I’m here for it. I honestly thought I had seen them all, but then I got bored one random Friday night and turned on Steel Magnolias. It was in that moment that I realized Dolly Parton’s beauty salon was everything I’ve ever hoped for in an appointment. Not only in a movie, but in real life appointment.
For those of you that haven't seen the movie, it's about a group of women who live in a small town in Louisiana and frequent the same beauty salon that is owned and operated by Dolly Parton's character Truvy Jones and her brand new "glamour technician," Annelle. The beauty salon is in a section of Truvy Jones's house, and it's filled with hot rollers, pink and purple everything, lots of wallpaper, messy containers of hot wax, and crepe paper decorations. Basically, it's a 1984 gold-mine of beauty goodness—and exactly what I pictured my Barbie's salon looking like. How can you not squeal inside?
All we ever really see is each women's hair being wrapped in rollers, taken out, and teased. Bigger is clearly better, and while I'd never wear my hair in Parton proportions, I love that she's known for acing the signature style. They trust her to get it right!
On top of watching Truvy tease and tease and tease and tease, I think what really does it for me, more than any other makeover movie I've seen, is the friendship component—the gossip they share, the problems they try to solve, and the jokes they make.
You know when people say that stylists are basically therapists? I've definitely confided in my own hairstylist more times than I can count about stress and the guys I'm seeing, and that's exactly what goes on in this movie. Whether it's Shelby's (played by Julia Roberts) diabetes and the fear that having children will harm her health, or Annelle's mysterious past and her husband that disappeared, they're all in it together to help, dissect, sometimes tease, and just generally be there for one another.
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Apart from some sassy comments, they all mean well. Even when Shelby tells her mom, Sally Fields's character M'Lynn, that her hair looks like a brown football helmut, they're all building each other up, or at least trying to help one another laugh and feel better and stronger regardless of the situations they're in.
At the end of the day, isn't that what going to the salon should really be about? Walking out with fabulous hair and beautiful nails, steaming through some stress, and feeling more confident than you were before? I don't know about you, but if I could find a salon with Truvy's home-y vibe, I'd gladly let Annelle give me Marie-Antoinette-height hair any day.