Ivy is a big, bubbly black woman who managed to run her own beauty salon surreptitiously during the dark days of apartheid. She lives in Alexandra, a restless and poor township, while her white, mostly elderly, clients live in the tree-lined suburbs of Johannesburg. In her salon she is part beautician, long-time friend, lay counselor and honest commentator to her customers. While she masks her clients' imperfections, she also peels away layers of difference separating the races. It can be easily pointed out that Ivy essentially enjoys the intimacy of a domestic servant, while her white clients maintain their economic privileges and know little about Ivy's private world. But since apartheid's end, Ivy owns her own shop and now meets her clients on an equal footing.
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