Why are we being charged for what’s between our legs, not what’s on our heads?
BY KATE STRONG, IMAGE VIA UNSPLASH
Hair is a way many people choose to express themselves, from crew cuts to long locks, everyone has their unique style. For trans and non-binary people, finding a haircut that suits their gender expression can feel extremely validating, but more often than not, hair salons can feel an unwelcoming place.
Salons and barbershops tend to be extremely gender-orientated places, from their decor to their pricing. As an AFAB (assigned female at birth) person, I remember the strange looks from male clients as I sat in a barbershop, waiting for an undercut. Surely my discomfort was down to the close-minded customers, well yes, but things can be done to make the atmosphere feel more inclusive. If somewhere is represented as a gender-neutral space, then it won’t seem so alien to others when an AFAB non-binary person walks through the door.
But should I even be complaining, (Yes.), at least they cut my hair!? Women, non-binary people and trans men have often experienced being turned away from barbers who refuse to cut “women’s hair”, even if they want a traditionally masculine style. Stylists hold so much power over people’s appearance, taking the leap to change your haircut can often be daunting enough without the added stress. It’s a myth that women’s hair is harder to cut than men’s, I feel like it’s comparable to going to a dentist and being refused because women’s teeth are harder to treat than a man’s.
If like me, you are fortunate enough to find somewhere to cut your hair, you’ll more than likely run into the next issue, pricing. When I had short hair, I always used to wonder why I was being charged more to get the same haircut as a man. On the hairdressers Instagram, my hair was virtually the same as a haircut being charged less for being a “man’s haircut”. My hair was no more feminine than his, yet I was being charged an extra ten pounds. It didn’t matter what was on my head, it was what’s between my legs.
My hair is non-binary whether it’s short or long, now I’m not suggesting hairdressers to add a new price between men and women for non-binary people, no. I’m not asking them to pull out a chart and ask each client where they fall on the gender spectrum to charge accordingly. I’m asking for more hairdressers to charge rates dependant on the individual cut, much how a tattoo artist charges for their work, completely non-gendered.
On the bright side, we are seeing more stylists adopt this way of pricing and taking their time to listen to their LGBTQIA clients, for which I can only sing their praises. An example being The Open Barbers in London who “offer a personalised and warm haircutting experience with a queer and trans friendly attitude.” They also offer services that specialise in afro-textured hair and one of their barbers makes home visits for those who can’t make it to the salon. Their pricing works on how much time is spent on the client and they have different price brackets depending on the income of the client to make their services accessible to everyone.
Hopefully, we will continue to see the rise of LGBTQIA friendly hairdressers. People should be able to express themselves freely without having to face sexism and transphobia. Of course, not all hairdressers are bad but there needs to be more awareness of what can be done to cater for all their clients.
So, what can salons do?
It’s not as simple as putting a pride flag in the shop for one month a year, after all, straight cis women are affected by this problem too. Salons should advertise their work on a range of different models to show to other clients that they are in a space for everyone. It is the same when it comes to social media marketing. Ask yourself, does it show a diverse range of images? Of course, displaying posters condemning discrimination is always good to remind clients and employees that hate is not acceptable, for queer clients it makes it feel much safer. Finally, reflect on the language used and the pricing when it comes to your services, make sure it doesn’t generalise the haircut and that the prices cater to everyone.
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