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Becoming Politically Active in State Legislation

Susanne S. Warfield November 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

Why should you join a political association or coalition? Well, would you like to have a say in your future? Do you want to protect your right to practice as a licensed esthetician? Do you want to be a part of a standard-setting organization?

Having your voice heard is the first step in advocating a cause—an action undertaken that can bring about positive change in people’s lives. Being able to communicate effectively with state licensing boards and representatives can help you to foster a better understanding of what you want for your career and what you need to be able to do in order to maintain your livelihood. When given the opportunity to contribute and voice your concerns, your message can be heard loud and clear through participation in a political association or coalition. However, this type of communication is a multilevel phenomenon with two components: content and process.

Content

Content is the message that is being sent. It is important to take the following steps when fashioning your stance.

Define the issue. This sounds easy, but, in the past, has been one of the biggest stumbling blocks for the spa industry. An advocacy group needs to work together as a unit so that issues can be discussed and prioritized.

Determine your position. Once an issue has been identified, a position has to be agreed upon. A collective view may not always be the position of each member, so, when determining a position, guidelines need to be clearly defined for each person’s review.

Create an action plan. Once both an issue and a position have been agreed upon, a plan needs to be put into place to make your voice heard.

Follow up and evaluate. Did the plan of action work? It is crucial to follow up in order to ensure that the approach taken was the right method for this position or issue. Finding another way to get your voice heard often is part of the advocacy process.

The need for advocacy in the spa profession is not based solely on motivation, but, as a licensed esthetician, it is important to understand that your livelihood is at stake. People get involved for all kinds of reasons beyond the bottom line.

Process

Process is how the message is delivered. For example, suppose that in your state, the cosmetology board has proposed a rule that requires an esthetician to work under the direct supervision of a physician in order to perform invasive microdermabrasion. You are outraged about this and attend your first-ever state board meeting. You show up at the designated time, and the meeting seems to go on and on. You are agitated and are waiting to express your outrage when the topic of the newly proposed rule finally is raised. You yell and scream at the board members, telling them that you always have performed this treatment and asking them who they think they are in taking away this revenue stream from your business.

Remember, the people with whom you are communicating have their own feelings, emotions and beliefs. Their responsibility is to protect consumer safety by having rules and regulations for each licensee to follow. They don’t deserve to be abused. Sure, there are times when you may disagree, but following a professional course of action always is the best way to advocate your cause.

Walk the walk

It’s not enough to say that the industry needs to improve the education of estheticians in this country … what are you going to do about it? If the profession doesn’t help educate the teachers of our future by supporting efforts within the field, then how will that impact the future?

Be open-minded

Industry professionals no longer can afford the luxury of resting on their laurels or doing things the way they always have been done. Times are changing, and, in order for this industry to survive, you must be politically aware and be open to new ideas for promoting the continued safety of consumers, as well as for protecting your right to earn a living.

Team spirit

It’s not about what “I” can do; it’s what “we” can do. There is strength in numbers, and the members of the profession must work together to find a standard with which everyone is comfortable and then share that information with the state boards, as well as the rest of the industry. A purpose and direction must be developed—where do we want to be five, 10 or even 20 years from now? The industry benefits immensely when everyone works together and shares their passion to build something for the profession—not just the individual spa.

Believe in collective wisdom

Those who believe will succeed. There are many bright, talented estheticians who could do great things if given the opportunity to work together. You can and are making a difference.

Viewpoint is an opinion-based column. The beliefs expressed are not necessarily those of Skin Inc. magazine.

 

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