Does having someone massage your feet and polish your nails calm down your anxiety? Do you get nervous when your hair stylist is on vacation? What if you miss your regular waxing appointment? Imagine, or better do not imagine, your legs, your arms, your eyebrows or your pussy.
Beauty routines can become addictive. Psychologists typically reserve the word addiction for more serious pathology and substance abuse, but in today’s World, we use the term pretty loosely.
Any behavior that becomes physically and psychologically compulsive, may it be gambling, work, sex, eating, computer and mobile phone use, can be described as addictive.
Many deeply satisfying activities have the potential to become habitual. Pleasurable experiences naturally lead to the desire for more, so we yearn for repetition. When we are denied that pleasure, we feel uncomfortable, even anxious.
Brain chemistry is involved, specifically dopamine. When triggered, dopamine leads to what we call cravings. When we re-engage in the enjoyable activity, our craving is temporarily satisfied, relieves the discomfort, alleviates anxiety and a dependency is created.
An unprecedented emphasis has been placed on maintaining youth and beauty in today’s culture. We know there are advantages to attractiveness – both personally and professionally – and that people experience disadvantages if they do not maintain their appearance.
Both men and women today report that lookism and ageism are sadly pretty common these days. Consequently, people of all ages and both genders go to great lengths to routinely keep up their appearance just to stay competitive.
Any activity that provides a quick fix can be uniquely appealing and lead to wanting more. The experiences offer a reliable way to feel good about oneself and enhance one’s sense of attractiveness.
These grooming practices are affordable and accessible. There is little down time. You walk in and out. You see and feel immediate results. The pleasure runs deeper than you realize. You want that experience again and again.
Add to that the warm relationships between consumers and their providers and you have got a growing dependency. Many manicurists and hair stylists see their clients once or twice a week, sometimes more often than friends and families get together.
These providers offer a consistent pleasurable experience; customers share intimate life stories, get the undivided attention of a non-judgemental ear, all while kicking back and being taken care of. Relaxation without texting, tweeting or cell phones interrupting. Who wouldn’t want more?
We may think of beauty routines as superficial, but in a World where looks matter a lot, the satisfaction can run deep when they are enhanced. And anything that contributes toward that end can easily become addictive.
While there may be no need for 12-step-programs, it will take some real willpower to reign it in. With huge industries creating endless beauty products and services, these feel-good solutions are awfully tempting.