Being a male beautician in a conservative community like Damweo, in the Bolgatanga Municipality of the Upper East Region is like signing a death certificate. The insults, the demeaning comments from relatives and sometimes customers are the few verbal instances of abuse you’d expect as a man in a female-dominated profession.
But Paul Azoo has learned to live beyond these circumstances. He has made a name for himself in his community. This reputation he has made for himself helps him earn a decent living. Paul is a proud beautician with six years of working experience and earns close to Ghc2,500.00 monthly.
“What I get a month is okay for me and my family. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, my business is running smoothly. I can’t imagine what other business I would have been doing to save myself and my family under this pandemic period.”
According to the 27-year-old, on daily basis, he receives no less than 8 customers, a number he said is way more than any beautician in town could get.
“I have 8 apprentices. Two of them are males. They are always there to help. So, we are doing our best to meet our customers’ satisfaction. We don’t pride ourselves; our customers and God Almighty are doing the work for us.”
Augustine, one of Paul’s apprentices noted “I’m happy being here. This month adds to a year of me being here, and I can confidently say I know everything regarding hairdressing. Unlike my colleagues elsewhere that are getting to their two years yet can’t braid a hair. I’m glad to understudy him.”
But why will one prefer a male beautician to a female one? A loyal customer, Francisca explained that “he takes his time to do it nicely for you. The first day that a friend introduced me to him, I was doubtful whether he was up to the task. But this is my second time braiding my hair here. He’s better than my previous hairdresser.”
Could this appreciation from Francisca and probably his other loyal customers mean that he is free from stigma and everyone likes his work? Paul, answers in the negative.
According to him, stigma has become part of his life. He has had to devise coping mechanisms to deal with the situation.
“For stigma, I have learned to deal with it. Even initially, my parents and brothers were against my idea of becoming a beautician. I took a bold step which led me to run to Accra to learn. So, I don’t see it as stigma anymore but jealousy. I have been able to condition my mind to see it that way. This work helps me to pay my bills and do other things that some government workers can do. So, why will I worry about what others think?”
Paul Azoo has indeed set a precedent that shows that being a male on a supposedly female-dominant field, helps one to pay bills and bring food to the table. It is a strong reminder that stigma shouldn’t be a barrier limiting one from exploring his/her natural given talent.
A1radioonline.com|Moses Apiah & Samuel Adagom| 101.1 MHz|Damweo|Ghana