Nicky Thompson, who owns Nix Hair & Beauty in South London, is one of many hair and beauty salon owners who have announced they will no longer be providing gossip magazines in a stand against their criticism of women.
Last week, Nicky Thompson became part of a movement.
“My decision to get rid of them has happened this week,” she told Stylist on Friday. “I saw a post on Facebook about a salon not having these types of magazines in salon anymore because of the negative impact and it just struck a chord with me.”
Thompson was, of course, not the only one to make such a change. Up and down the country, beauty and hair salons were switching their gossip magazines for books and magazines with a more constructive message.
“When I pulled out the gossip magazines from our supply and looked at the front pages, I just realised how negative they were, and with the recent, terrible news about Caroline Flack, you start to realise that these stories are just fuelling that negativity,” Thompson explained. “I just don’t feel that it is of any benefit to our own mental health to be reading such personal, and at times nasty, gossip.”
She continued: “I feel passionately about the mental health of my staff, my clients and of course myself. I have staff members that have struggled in the past and more recently – it’s only when you stop and look at the messages that these magazines are giving out, that you realise why there’s a generation of people struggling with their mental wellbeing.”
Taking to Facebook on Thursday to share the news with her clients, Thompson criticised the negativity prevalent in gossip magazines, calling it “not healthy”.
“The hairdressing world has always been known to be ‘infectious’. Today we stand by many other hair salons that have made the decision to stop providing gossip magazines while you are having a service,” the post read.
“As many of you will agree after the recent sad news of Caroline Flack, the unfair press and negativity bred in these magazines is not healthy,” it continued. “Pages and pages of negativity, fat-shaming, shaming celebs with no makeup and much more.
“We will only supply positive magazines providing personal growth, décor, food, fashion, hair inspiration, health and wellbeing.
“We feel it’s time we all make a difference being in such an influenced industry. We want everyone who visits Nix to be surrounded with positivity. We know this doesn’t stop online nasty comments and trolling. However, we want to help. We want the best for our clients and our staff.
“We standby other salons and businesses that have decided to stop fuelling toxic publications.”
Speaking about the impact her decision has had on her customers and staff, Thompson said the response has been “amazing”.
“The reaction from clients has been amazing, so positive,” she added. “I feel there’s a really strong, positive movement that has come from the shock of Caroline Flack’s death and that is that publications and online forums need to start taking responsibility for what they write.
“It’s not OK to drive anyone to a place where they are that low for the sake of gossip.”
In a stand against the negativity and shaming which goes on both inside and on the front covers of the UK’s gossip magazines, salons from Cheshire to Devon have also said they are ditching gossip magazines in a stand against the unhealthy negativity bred among their pages.
The story comes after more than half a million people across the country signed a petition to create “new and stricter laws” to safeguard celebrities and people in the public eye from intrusion and harassment at the hands of the media.
Taking to Twitter to celebrate the news, author and mental health advocate Matt Haig praised the salons and other businesses for taking a stand against the “mental abuse” perpetuated in gossip titles.
“Have seen and heard from some beauty salons/hairdressers/dentists who say they are banning magazines that contain the mental abuse of celebrities/women/anyone,” he wrote. “I think we should get this to become a thing.”
One of the first salons to make this change was The Boutique Hair and Beauty Salon in Cullompton, who said they had decided to “bin” all of their gossip magazines in response to the recent news.
“With the devastating news about Caroline Flack we will not be promoting these magazines that slate people, put people down, advertise people’s personal problems, disrespect people’s outfits… the list goes on,” they wrote.
“Instead we will have the good old fashion books, some educational magazines and even some colouring books.”
It’s undeniable that this stand against the culture of shaming exacerbated by these magazine titles is a massive step forward for women everywhere. The judging, harassment and criticism of women in the public eye is not only incredibly damaging for those involved – it normalises this kind of toxic behaviour, and suggests that the lives and looks of women are up for public debate (which, by the way, they aren’t).
Banning gossip is something that Stylist lead the charge on in 2009. Editor-in-Chief Lisa Smosarski said: “Looking back it’s remarkable that we’re still having this conversation. When we launched Stylist we wanted to create an antidote to the misogynistic and damaging gossip magazines that were targeted at women, so we pledged to never include speculative gossip about anyone, to never use negative paparazzi shots of women and to never speak badly of other women.
“I’m proud to say that brand DNA remains true 10 years on and I celebrate this removal of damaging content from spaces that should be safe from this damaging content.”
Now, more than ever, we need to flood every space we can with positivity and kindness, whether that’s in the local salon, throughout the pages of a magazine, or online. Any change, however small, has the power to make a difference – and this latest step is certainly one in the right direction.
Images: Unsplash/Supplied by Nicky Thompson