SOME WAYS TO HAVE A NICE NONBINARY TIME AT A BARBERSHOP
I have had some real success with my new barber’s recently so sharing some tips for a good experience, if you don’t have access to somewhere explicitly queer-friendly/an expensive salon/just want a standard men’s haircut!
CHOOSING A PLACE
- Go somewhere small that serves a range of ages. It’s less intimidating and they’ll be more used to cutting a variety of styles.
- Good barbers have regulars. The chattier the shop, the better it often is.
- Ask queer and/or male friends for recommendations!
GETTING THE CUT
- Be as clear, concise, and firm as possible when explaining what you want. Specify a clipper and/or trim length (e.g. ‘#1 on the sides, two inches off the top, squared sideburns’).
- Don’t back down about what you want. Don’t give them ‘room to play’ with your request (until you trust a particular person to cut your hair). They’re there to cut your hair exactly the way you want it, and you shouldn’t have to argue about it.
- If you want a masculine haircut and don’t want to ask for ‘a men’s cut’, don’t worry! Barbers are used to cutting men’s hair and will usually ask before giving you a ‘feminine’ haircut. If you haven’t gotten a men’s haircut before or don’t know what to ask for, bring a specific reference picture.
- Ask questions for future reference, and butt in if things aren’t going the way you want.
SOME THINGS TO EXPECT
- A few stares (these will generally go away as you get to know your barber).
- Questions like ‘Are you sure you want it this short?’ and ‘Do you want a female version of this?’ Just repeat your request! You don’t have to explain yourself.
- Likewise, don’t be put off if a male barber asks you something like this once; if he doesn’t ask again, he’s probably a keeper.
- Barbers are generally less likely to chat than professional hairdressers. You can sit quietly if you want, but they might be pleasantly surprised if you want to strike up a conversation. It’s up to you!
- You may be charged slightly more for a ‘female’ haircut, even if the cut you’ve gotten is a masculine one/took the same amount of time as the guy next to you. It’s up to you whether or not you want to call a barber on this; my current barber charges me the same as his male customers, but I’ve managed to work the price down by pointing out that I’d gotten the same haircut as my male friend.
SOME THINGS NOT TO PUT UP WITH
- Being put in a place where you have to justify yourself - your choice of haircut, your presentation, your sexuality, your gender. Don’t go back to a place where people ask you prying, uncomfortable questions, or repeatedly offer suggestions that you don’t want (‘But I think it looks better like this!’ ‘You look pretty this way!’). Don’t compromise on this if you don’t have to! There are plenty of barbers out there who won’t say anything about your gender, will give you a great haircut, be respectful, and rightly tell you you look good. These are the only people worth your time and money.
- Conversation, if you don’t want it.
IF THINGS GET AWKWARD
- If you’re anxious about the overall experience: go with a friend who’s had their hair cut at a barber’s before and have them go first.
- If someone confronts you outright about your gender and you don’t want to out yourself: say you’re playing a man in a play, you’ve been getting this haircut for years, or that you think it looks great on you, don’t they?, are some of my previous lines. Also, don’t go back.
- If a barber is noticeably confused about your gender/pronouns: you’re in charge. Specify how you’d like to be treated, or ignore him. His reaction to you is not your responsibility unless he’s asking for clarification about how you want your hair cut.
If a place doesn’t work for you first time around, don’t go back! If you have a good experience, tip, get your barber’s name, and go back!