Female "beauty" is evolutionarily rooted in the signaling of reproductive vitality. Hip to waist ratio. Strong nails. Long hair. Glowing skin. Every beauty practice in recorded culture, IMHO, is a derivation of this.
Foot binding? Small feet = high estrogen. Whether or not the practice itself is healthy, the pursuit of beauty has rarely stopped anyone...
The sum total of a woman is more than her looks. Full stop. However, I do think there is some inherently flawed/reactionary thinking in trying to completely divorce women from their connection with appearance because it runs contrary to this reproductive aspect of identity.
I work in the beauty industry... so there is a dark side, dysmorphia and low self-esteem. Truth be told, I rarely encounter this, but when I do, as a practitioner, it's like being sucked into a black hole, because a beauty service can't cure those problems.
What I see much more often is the positive side. A little bit of grooming goes a long way for confidence when people feel like inside and outside match. I've resurfaced skin for clients with acne scarring, did sets of eyelash extensions for people who previously lost all their lashes from chemo. Heck, even me getting my hair cut a certain way has helped with my dysphoria. There's something empowering in working with your body and expressing yourself physically. And for women, I think this is doubly so, because it's very often gender affirming.
I have zero male clients. Zero. It's a number worth looking at.
I'm not denying the ridiculous cultural pressures around us - many of which are toxic and absurd - but I think there is a biological component, too. A little bit of beauty never hurt anyone. The only reason I have a job is because it makes people feel good.
The salon is also an extremely social setting. There's this whole feminine bonding thing that women attend to ritually do... that I can never, ever make myself fit into. ;)
The majority of the salons I've been around, I would define as "normal women treating themselves to feel good and socialize."
Although I did work for a while at an overpriced playpen for doctor's wives in which no amount of Botox could save anyone's soul. I shared a room with a doctor who exchanged sexual favors for Botox, had affairs with half my clients, and left me to clean up all the broken glass, nasty needle bits and blankets when he was done. YMMV. I was also the only person there who didn't have Botox. I didn't fit in. You win some, you lose some, I guess.