I really want to get my hair cut, so I ask google about salons in my neighborhood that aren’t Bishop’s. There’s nothing exactly wrong with Bishop’s, it’s just such a crap shoot and I’m feeling ready for a committed long-term relationship. No more backing into whoever’s chair comes my way…I want to know the person who runs their fingers through my hair, and I want them to know me.
And so, here I am: in shaggy-haired disarray…in haircut limbo. I’ve outgrown my last relationship but haven’t yet found the next Mr. or Ms. Right.
I turn to the world wide web, and it’s a scary yet exciting prospect. ‘Could this be the one?’ ‘What if we’re not a good fit?’ ‘Will she know how I like my sideburns?’ It’s angsty questions like this that plague me as I contemplate making the leap into the unknown. As I scan the page something catches my eye and jars my hair-cutting fantasy to a screeching halt:
Seriously?! What does my genitalia have to do with my haircut? And on Alberta Street, no less…one of the most difficult places in Portland to correlate with any degree of certainty what is in someone’s pants with the style of their hair. Now full disclosure: I am not a stylist. I did not go to beauty school. I cannot pretend to know the details of salon pricing models. But in my imaginings I understand that some styles are more complex and time-consuming to create than others. That makes total sense to me. And I imagine that in the 1950’s this pricing model took care of those discrepancies 99% of the time. It is now 2013, hairstyles and gender expression have come a long way, and they are not holding hands.
I believe it’s time for the salon industry to get on board.
I pick up the phone, and here’s what I say:
I am a neighbor and am in the market to make a long-term commitment to a hair salon. In doing some research I’m finding some disturbing information and wonder if you have 5 minutes to discuss gender-based pricing with me? What is the purpose of charging based on a person genitalia?
Sweet and spunky Lauren gave me the answer I expected, that usually women’s cuts are much more detailed than men’s. That this has ben the system for industry pricing for eons. That the owner is from Michigan and hasn’t woken up to the fact that he lives in one of the queerest towns in the country (I added that last part to make a point…Lauren didn’t say that). But (and this was the ‘but’ I was hoping for) the stylists do charge based on the cut itself and would charge a vagina the same rate as a penis if the haircut warranted (my words, not hers).
It’s a start. But it’s certainly not haircut equality.