Scottish hair salons replace glossy gossip mags with classic novels

“Flat abs now!” “Lose your belly!” “Best sex ever!”
Tales of the unexpected as Scottish salon owners swap magazine gossip titles for 

classic novels.Tales of the unexpected as Scottish salon owners swap magazine gossip titles for 

classic novels.
Tales of the unexpected as Scottish salon owners swap magazine gossip titles for classic novels.

Flicking through glossy magazines might be regarded as harmless easy-to-digest inspiration or alternatively science-free fearmongering.

But now, in response to growing concerns from its clientele, one Scottish hairdressing group has decided to remove all such magazines from its salons and replace them with classic novels.

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Instead of Women’s Health, Cosmopolitan and Grazia, Chapter One hairdressing is filling its coffee tables with books such as A Tale of Two Cities, The Great Gatsby and Jane Eyre.

The change has been made after the team became increasingly aware of a growing societal backlash against gossip magazines and their portrayal of perfect lives and perfect bodies.

Natalie Clugston, co-founder of Chapter One, said: “Working in this industry I see young people – including our team – feeling pressured into looking like celebrities do in the pages of magazines.

“While it’s great to have role models and be inspired, when the tone becomes negative and almost bullying, it’s time to say enough is enough. We don’t know these people yet have opinions on how they look, their behaviours and actions.

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“We’d like to replace those conversations with something different, something good for the mind and soul.

“I want our team to be influenced by real people, achieving real goals that make a difference to people’s lives – not feeling insecure or that they have to be something they’re not.”

Friends of the salon are being asked to nominate their favourite books through Facebook and highlight the “best bit”, which will be bookmarked to enable other clients to jump straight to the section being recommended.

“It’s in our name – Chapter One – we love a good tale, so we hope our initiative encourages our clients and team to get reading some of books we should all have read in school,” Ms Clugston added.

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While basic haircuts can see some customers with little time to enjoy the printed word, many clients can be in the Lothian salons – based in Eskbank, Haddington and Newtongrange – for three hours for complex cuts or colours, leaving them plenty of time for reading.

Speaking on the eve of World Book Day, Paul Bertram, Chapter One’s co-founder, said encouraging people to great literature had to be a positive thing. “I’m not a big reader of fiction but would love to try to read more.

“This is a great way for us all to be encouraged to read more through recommendations by people we know. And it will spark conversations with clients we wouldn’t have normally had.

“Celebrity culture and style influencers are intrinsically linked to our profession. From as far back as The Beatles and Twiggy, to ‘the Rachel’ and Victoria Beckham, to now – Kate Middleton and Holly Willoughby – celebrity hair-styles are of course part of what we do.

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“But in recent years we have seen an unhealthy focus and obsession with influencers, creating a vicious circle – we just want to get the balance back.”

The two hope to inspire new types of conversation and promote positive wellbeing among both clients and staff as they create pop-up book groups every day.

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