Why Haircuts Should Be Gender Neutral
August 15, 2022 10:32 AM   Subscribe

The gender binary is holding us back from truly great hair. The gender binary too often limits what people imagine possible for themselves, or for their clients. Hairrari, which opened its first location in Williamsburg in 2011 and now operates three shops across New York City and one in L.A. (with another one on the way for Portland, Oregon), was among the first barber-salons to formally challenge the gender binary. “We’re not just looking at hair, we’re looking at the whole person when they come in,” says Granberger. A lot of it has to do with gauging feeling too, Ryczko adds. “When some people come in, they say, ‘what do you think, what do you think?’ And I always kind of ask them, ‘how do you feel? Do you feel you like it’s better longer? Or do you feel better with shorter here in the back or longer on your neck?’” Ryczko says. “I think that has a lot to do with it, how we feel. The better we feel, the stronger and more confident we are.”
posted by folklore724 (54 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Do I really get to make the first post, celebrating Hair?

EDIT: (A 2022 update to include short/no hair would be lovely.)
posted by johnabbe at 11:03 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]

I am a cishet man who finally got a haircut he liked in the last few years, and I have zero qualms that the same style is likely to show up on the first page of results for "lesbian haircut."

Lesbians with this haircut look great and so do I.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:47 AM on August 15 [37 favorites]

The gender binary is holding us back from truly great hair.

Pretty sure the haired/hairless binary (a.k.a. male pattern baldness) has more to do with it in my case, but apart from that I'm all for people wearing their hair however the hell they want.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:54 AM on August 15 [11 favorites]

My non-binary kiddo works at an everyone welcome barbershop. When you make an appt it doesn't say mens or women's cuts, it's just goes by time, either a 30 or 60 minute appt. If you would a like a gender neutral and also queer affirming haircut in North Texas, let me know, I'll tell you where it's at!
posted by shmurley at 12:10 PM on August 15 [24 favorites]

This is important:

The binary is also reflected in price. While gender-based pricing is now unlawful in some states like New York and Massachusetts, countless salons across [the United States] still charge more for “women’s haircuts.”

Can confirm, on behalf of the red state in which I live, that this remains the rule rather than the exception — including in blue-city salons that were festooned with Pride flags throughout June.
posted by armeowda at 12:15 PM on August 15 [4 favorites]

Ah, a post after my own part, er...heart. I'm also a cishet guy and I am probably officially middle aged now, and I've long changed my hair more than any guy AFAIK and I still struggle with finding something new. Right now I'm taking advantage of the pandemic and my hair is the longest it's ever been, it's not going away, it's good hair, so I figure, why not make the most of it? Why should these hair genes go to waste in a late-night talk show host cut?

One thing I've found over the past several years is that there is no older-guy hair culture. If you google "old guy long hair" you get three options: Jeff Bridges, Sam Elliot and neckbeard nerd. While I can relate to all of those options, there has to be more!

Ryczko says it’s important, as a stylist or barber, to look for clues in a client’s personal style and self-expression, but also to not assume too much.

This and the Ryczo quote above is what gets me, however. For at least 20 years I've struggled to communicate my desires in a language that my haircutter can work with, but it's always bounced back to me in a how-do-you-feel dance that can feel like an ELIZA session. I want them to talk out some assumptions with me, they see a million more haircuts than I do! I'm sure they learn that a lot of clients don't want to talk about what stereotypes they might be invoking with their future look and/or don't have the imagination to consider outside-the-box options, but the social context in which hair operates is large. I guess I might simply not be good enough friends with my cutter, but if I wanted a cut that only matters to me, I'd shave my head and save my money on styling. Call me vain, but that's everybody who walks in a haircutter's front door.
posted by rhizome at 12:39 PM on August 15 [10 favorites]

As a person who is always happily surprised when a hairdresser truly understands that I like my hair to look a little like it's trying to pass dress code at an all-boy's boarding school even, or especially if I happen to be wearing a tulle-heavy party dress at the time, I'm always happy to learn that places like the above exist.

I feel like, in a lot of ways, even as fashion slowly (too slowly) turns more fluid, the mainstream hair trends of the last twenty-odd years of so have been even more disappointingly and almost ludicrously gendered than usual.
posted by thivaia at 12:45 PM on August 15 [5 favorites]

One thing I've found over the past several years is that there is no older-guy hair culture. If you google "old guy long hair" you get three options: Jeff Bridges, Sam Elliot and neckbeard nerd. While I can relate to all of those options, there has to be more!

Iggy Pop has pretty good hair, as far as older dude long hair goes.
posted by thivaia at 12:48 PM on August 15 [2 favorites]

I always assumed that the reason women's haircuts cost more was that men's were a matter of "clip clip" or "bzzzt" whereas women's required shampooing and layering, pinning up with combs, and so forth. But there's no reason that this should be the case. In fact, more men with long hair should get that treatment. Too many of them have lank, wispy hair because they never talked to a stylist about care, let alone got the haircut that a long-haired woman would get.

I like Sara's haircut. I don't know if it's right for my face, though. I just know that I miss the freeing sense of air on the back of my neck and taking next to no time with it in the shower or afterwards. But if I get a short haircut now, it'll be internalized misogyny central. I'll worry about looking like a Karen or like someone who has completely given up on sexuality.
posted by Countess Elena at 12:51 PM on August 15 [1 favorite]

This is part of the reason I long ago abandoned women-centric hair salons for barber shops. I've been to 3 now as a regular over the years. I love it. Only as much extra conversation as you feel up to that day, reasonable pricing, no constant "Are you really sure?!" when you ask them to hack all your hair off on the regular. The slightly baffled looks from the all-male clientele is a bonus. (For reference, I am a cis-het presenting female). I've never felt unwelcome, though I was nervous the first few times I went in, as most barber shops are heavily male-coded spaces.
posted by sharp pointy objects at 1:06 PM on August 15 [8 favorites]

Haircuts should probably be priced according to time and effort required. Would be seriously concerned if mine takes more than 5 minutes and requires more than 2 clipper changes.
posted by JustSayNoDawg at 1:06 PM on August 15 [1 favorite]

As a counterpoint to sharp pointy objects' comment above, I used to frequent barbershops and "great cuts" type places in my early 20s, and my requests for the #1 clipper sides/back and #2 clipper on top always got more fuss and pushback than I wanted. I DID NOT WANT wispy hair, in fact my curly hair will not do wisps at all, and what I did want was to cut the curl out completely. Being a young woman in a barbershop is not always a relief from gender pressure.

These days a hairdresser who can cut curls is way more important to me than gender feels, but when all I wanted was to butch it off, it was annoying.

I applaud all efforts to dismantle the gender binary in this area as in all others. Hair for those who want it! No hair for those who don't! Expertise in cut and color, plus sensitivity to how people want to look and feel!
posted by Lawn Beaver at 1:12 PM on August 15 [8 favorites]

I wish I'd had the guts to have Robert Smith hair in the early 90s. I'd also take the rest of his face, but that's a felony.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 1:28 PM on August 15 [5 favorites]

One thing I've found over the past several years is that there is no older-guy hair culture. If you google "old guy long hair" you get three options: Jeff Bridges, Sam Elliot and neckbeard nerd. While I can relate to all of those options, there has to be more!

There aren't a lot of men out there who can carry off the receding-hairline-plus-ponytail look without giving you the unshakable impression that their mid-life crisis landed on them like a cartoon piano.
posted by mhoye at 1:29 PM on August 15 [13 favorites]

I stopped going to barbershops in college because even as a cishet male I found the level of male-codedness to be a little uncomfortable.

If I was the only customer there things were fine and my barber was pretty nice, but if there were any other guys waiting, the places would inevitably turn into a locker room.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 1:34 PM on August 15 [4 favorites]

I'd also take the rest of his face, but that's a felony.

Are you saying you'd like to take his...his face...off?
posted by kirkaracha at 1:36 PM on August 15 [3 favorites]

Strands for Trans maps trans-friendly salons and barbers across the country. The salon I go to is on there (though I heard about them through word of mouth). This is where I got a lifechanging haircut. I finally got the courage to ask my stylist to cut my shoulder length hair to a pixie. I told him it was a gender thing.

Reader, I got the best haircut of my life. It's asymmetric, which as the article discussed is a staple of queer cuts. But the thing I love most is he gave me SIDEBURNS. You don't usually see those on a women's cut. I never would have thought to ask for them, but my partner noticed them immediately as giving it a more masculine touch (which they and I both love).

I truly would not have expected how much of a difference it makes. I don't hate looking in the mirror anymore. I even occasionally take selfies. It's magical. I don't think I realized how much dysphoria I had until I got that haircut.
posted by brook horse at 1:38 PM on August 15 [19 favorites]

I've never felt it was a tremendously important topic.

I'm not sure what important means, in this context, but I have a strong sense that popular self-presentation trends are where the rubber of modern progressivism meets the road, where the practical realities of navigating the changes in social mores that make up the niceties of that progressivism lay themselves out.

One way to see the pushback wave against manbuns or hipsters a while back was in the same light as women wearing pants was, once upon a time: as reactionary gender policing. While they're not of the same cruelty or magnitude, what constitutes acceptable hairstyles is a part of the larger conversation about gender presentation and identity, and sees the same progressive, regressive and reactionary trends as that larger conversation, though in a much lower-stakes context. So, capital-I Important, I dunno? But certainly a proxy forum for much bigger societal issues with much higher stakes.
posted by mhoye at 1:46 PM on August 15 [9 favorites]

Cishet white guy here with a very boring haircut. Last summer my daughter and I tried to dye my hair ginger, and in a hilarious misunderstanding, it ended up a deep bright pink.

It was really interesting to see how this coded me for other humans as "less of a potential threat" than I reckon I normally appear, given my age/gender/presentation. Cashiers in stores were noticeably more relaxed as we did business. I liked that a lot. Purple suits my skin tone better than bright pink, so I've dyed my hair purple once or twice since then, but I still feel self conscious about the whole thing.

The last thing I ever want is to appear threatening. The gender binary really harms all of us.
posted by sockshaveholes at 2:02 PM on August 15 [20 favorites]

there is no older-guy [long] hair culture

That is a pity. Historical references, maybe? I think everyone in Julia Margaret Cameron’s Arthurian photos is richly flowing with hair. US Civil War officers, too. Crimean officers, same era? The last flourishes before rich men cut all their hair off and eschewed colors.
posted by clew at 2:10 PM on August 15

One of these days, the next step in my hair evolution is going to be going full Marty Stuart. See if I don't.

Comrade Doll, from the next room: "NOPE."


posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:15 PM on August 15 [2 favorites]

This is nice. I stopped cutting my hair in a short style in part because paying “women’s haircut” prices every six weeks was eating too far into my budget, not to mention making me resentful every time I went in. I might still be paying the same at a place like this but at least I could get the cut I wanted and not be sitting next to someone else paying half as much for the same thing.
posted by cali at 2:33 PM on August 15 [4 favorites]

At the risk of being a cliché Old, I paraphrase;
[gentle eyeroll] "Every generation seems to think they invented the Unisex Salon."
posted by bartleby at 2:48 PM on August 15 [8 favorites]

How, though? Do the salons of each cohort age into unisexuality with their clientele?

(I haven’t had my hair cut for years, and anyway my neighborhood has been bending it for decades, I really don’t know.)
posted by clew at 2:55 PM on August 15

I've been giving myself variants of the Zorg haircut ever since I realized it was an option. Sometimes referred to as a 'math-hawk'.
posted by kaibutsu at 2:57 PM on August 15 [3 favorites]

Even in a strictly binary 1980s town, with only two options - Pearl's Beauty Parlor and Guiseppe's Barber Shop - either one would treat your hair the way they were used to doing it.

You're a dude with limp Jesus hair, but you want the full Farrah Fawcett? Go to Pearl's and there's a chance they'll compete over you, just for the novelty.

A visibly pregnant woman walking past the striped pole out front and telling the little old guy in the white coat 'It's too hot for all this hair. #4 on the wall poster there, that's what I want' would get push back; but in the form of 'you-a sure you not gonna shout-a at me? When I-a finish, all-a you hair gonna be gone...' that required only a response of 'Gus, the only way I'm going to be angry with you is if I don't leave here looking like I'm on my way to my first year at Princeton Boy's Academy'.

The stronger pushback would come if you were asking them to do hair they didn't know how to do. The barber would tell the Hair Metal guy, 'I only cut men's hair. Short hair. This, I don't know what to do with. Come back when you're ready for the Army.' and the girls at Pearls would say 'Oh no, I couldn't possibly cut off all that beautiful hair! I couldn't live with myself if I made you look like a boy!'

But with modern sensibilities, there's definitely enough custom for a third place that's focused on 'I want something that's both macho and lavender' or vice-versa. Always has been in a big city, but if it's filtering down to Smallville, so much the better.
posted by bartleby at 3:10 PM on August 15 [6 favorites]

'They called them mop-tops because they had long hair'

'Wait, which one has long hair?'

'All of them'

Looks closer at the album sleeve of A Hard Day's Night.

'Is he fucking SMOKING?'
posted by adept256 at 3:32 PM on August 15 [10 favorites]

I have advanced MPB which I really hate because the only non-stupid look is mostly shaving off what's left. I bought a bunch of vibrant colourful headscarfs but it's been too hot to wear them yet. Three bucks a pop from AliExpress gives a lot of room for variety tho.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:35 PM on August 15

My 55 year old cis-het brother dyed his hair a couple years ago (it was a pandemic trend) from whitish-gray to bright, bright blue. He says people treat him differently in stores, on the street, etc. More open to talking.
posted by SoberHighland at 3:59 PM on August 15 [2 favorites]

As a former child who was first forced, then tricked, into haircuts she hated - and thus made her hate her own appearance - until she was physically too big to force (mostly because Dad couldn't deal with the fact that he had daughters instead of sons and wanted no visual reminders of it), and then was left to fend completely for herself, I firmly believe that everyone should be and feel free to wear their hair any way they want, and it should be a lot easier to communicate that to stylists and have your wishes respected to the best of their ability.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:21 PM on August 15 [8 favorites]

brook horse, thanks for sharing your story and the link to trans friendly hair salons!

I have long hair that I often wear in a bun on top of my head. In Hawai‘i, this is popularly known as the tita bun. I'd love to play around with short hair styles again, but am too lazy and too cheap to actually do so. Going to Hairrari seems super fun though!
posted by spamandkimchi at 5:10 PM on August 15 [1 favorite]

'I'd like some kind of fashionable, unisex haircut, that laughs at gender presentation, that's easy to maintain, and that seeks back to a more innocent time of experimental culture, camp, and earnest creativity'

[one finger on the monkey's paw at the barber's shop curls]

'Sleazy '80s mullet, coming right up'
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 6:13 PM on August 15 [11 favorites]

'Sleazy '80s mullet, coming right up'

so THAT's why all my bartenders are business in the front, party in the back these days.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 6:17 PM on August 15

I go to hairari and so does my husband. Fuck the binary.
posted by minervous at 6:28 PM on August 15 [3 favorites]

I kind of like the status quo, where most people get very gendered cuts, and a minority get cuts that say "fuck your norms" or are just wildly off the grid.

You can't be rebellious without norms.

And I'm also happy these folks found a place that gives them exactly what they want.
posted by cman at 7:32 PM on August 15 [2 favorites]

I kind of like the status quo, where most people get very gendered cuts, and a minority get cuts that say "fuck your norms" or are just wildly off the grid.

I am nonbinary. I do not think of myself as a rebel. I do not think of my gender identity as something that is interesting about me. I have no particular desire to "live off the grid," except for the fact that the grid will not make a space for me.

All I want is a haircut that projects that "I AM NOT A WOMAN. I AM NOT A MAN. I AM A NONBINARY PERSON." I just want a haircut that helps me live my nonbinary life quietly yet clearly. I. am. so. exhausted. at being misgendered, that having the option of a haircut that doesn't scream one of two genders sounds miraculous.

Can you imagine what that haircut looks like? Can you? No? Because none of the hairstylists in my 47 years of life have been able to, either. Because apparently it doesn't fucking exist. Because apparently "very gendered cuts" is the norm, and what they really scream is "fuck your [lack of] norms" to anybody who is not binary. While simultaneously pulling off the trick of acting as if it were those of us who don't fall within that binary who are the ones who are being belligerent.

I don't want to scream anything at anybody with my hair. I just want to live my life, and I just want to live as someone who is not a woman, and not a man. But that doesn't appear to be an option right now.

So be it.

I love my blue bangs. I'm content with my short hair. I wish I could get a cut that told people I am agender ... but people demand gender.
posted by DingoMutt at 8:17 PM on August 15 [14 favorites]

I used to go to a salon that was fast and cheap. Then on one of my visits the stylist said, when I showed her the cut I wanted (from the book of men's styles. because that's where I found a picture that I liked): Sure! But of course, it needs to stay feminine. I immediately replied: No, it doesn't.
She started to cut, and during the process, I told her to go ahead and make it nice and short. Again, she said: Okay! It needs to stay feminine, though. And again, I said: No, it doesn't, I don't care about that.

Of course I never went back to her. And later on, I found a solo working hair stylist who also sells antiques and she has a vintage barber's chair and cuts my hair in ten minutes for a low low price and I don't have to fight with her and it's JUST HOW I WANT IT.
I could tell she understood because when I first saw her she had the exact same haircut I wanted!

Heike is almost a friend now. I always look forward to getting my hair cut.

cman: I'm also happy these folks found a place that gives them exactly what they want.

I'm glad that those few salons over in the US is not all we get. Most people will never be able to get to those.
But I don't understand why you wouldn't want more options. You'll still be able to choose what you always chose, I promise.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:14 AM on August 16 [2 favorites]

having the option of a haircut that doesn't scream one of two genders sounds miraculous

No one asked for my cis opinion but I really really love ungendered hair and am going to share my top 3 for the current era.

The kpop. 1, 2

The shag. 1, 2, 3
It's not 2002 anymore, Ashton holds no power here.

The mullet. 1, 2
Specifically the high fade mullet, a.k.a. the Mexican mullet.

There's a lot of crossover between these three as well to suit different face shapes, and I would like to present you with this final hair that beautifully merges aspects of my 3 fave styles.
posted by phunniemee at 4:50 AM on August 16 [2 favorites]

1. Yes. I agree with this entirely.
2. Magda, of Hairrari, gave my older kid one of their first haircuts, now nearly 20 years ago (yikes!) - it was a generic, shorter hair, please, cut for a baby. (She/they also cut my hair - back when I had any, and lived in Brooklyn) I am really glad to read this about them.)
3. My kids and my sister's youngest all have varying haircuts that defy any real 'gendering' and it's 'normal.' Much of the cutting happens in a bathroom at home, or maybe a back porch. That said, my sister recently paid for her first haircut (in 30 years!) and it looks much better than before. She has 'plain' long hair and I don't understand hair cutting but whoever did whatever did it right.
4. I'm beginning to think this (basically the Willie Nelson look) is the best old, balding person hair 'style.'
posted by From Bklyn at 5:22 AM on August 16 [1 favorite]

I'm surprised Vogue didn't delve into how work determines the allowable forms of expression, and is a strong regulator of allowable individual style. I can certainly imagine that there are certain hairstyles that the office culture at Vogue has (had) trouble with.

There's a powerful lesson in outwardly complying with arbitrary rules in order to subversively break rules. I was well into my 20s before I cut my knee length hair and nipple-length beard. Both of those were more than a decade in the making. That was my decade of intentionally seeking an appearance that communicated my dissatisfaction with the world by attempting to identify as a fucking freak from a hundred yards away. Once I got some professional credentials, though, that anger started slipping away as I realized that I had cultivated different kinds of power through expertise, experience, familiarity with the working world, maybe even business acumen. One trip back to my hometown over my grad school's winter holiday, I got snowed in with a friend who helped me come to terms with my need for a change. As soon as the snow melted, we went to a salon and I took it all off. I left that shop with a two foot braid in hand and a clean cut All American look. I flew through TSA checkpoints seamlessly, in place of the former pat downs and special scrreenings. Work trips started with ease as people made assumptions about me that were completely wrong but incredibly beneficial to my work. And that is a notable lesson for activists: blending in is as much a tool--maybe a weapon--as it is a punishment. It's a shift in perspective to hop between those extremes.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 5:36 AM on August 16 [6 favorites]

And that is a notable lesson for activists: blending in is as much a tool

Well I think that's kind of the thing though. Queer and not-cis folks aren't trying to be activists living their daily lives, they're just trying to be people. A person
who doesn't align to the gender binary having hair that doesn't align to a gender binary shouldn't be any more counter culture than a black person who wears their 4c hair in natural locs. You're already not blending in to accepted norms by being alive. It's time for the world to catch up to that reality.
posted by phunniemee at 5:53 AM on August 16 [10 favorites]

I'm uncomfortably conflating "I want to look like a total freak because I'm not like you, sheeple" with "I would like to simply wear my hair the way I want , which reflects my gender identity, and not be policed for it." I mean, I am a person who spent much of her young life trying (and failing) to make my otherwise awesome mom (who I love) understand that buzzing half my head and dying it pink was not a "Fuck the man" or "I hate you, Mom," but a genuine "I think this looks soft and pretty and kind of fashionable" and more to the point, "I think it looks like me" in all of my confusion and contradiction and then-inexpressible (because I didn't have words for it . . . I'm still not 100% sure I do) understanding of who and what I was and how it might be okay to be more than one thing at the same time.

I'm sure some people make choices about the way they look for offensive/defensive/exhibitionist reasons, but it would really be awesome if we could just assume that people are presenting the way they want because it is who they are AND IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU as opposed to "Whatever, square."
posted by thivaia at 8:14 AM on August 16 [7 favorites]

Yeah so the trans experience is being forced to be an activist, constantly, defending your own humanity to everyone around you, while you are just trying to do your job/school/life. Being seen as a freak trying to "send a message" or "indoctrinate children" just for presenting in a way that feels most comfortable and right to you. I am frankly fucking tired of it.

Also, "blending in" is just... passing. LGBTQ+ activists know about passing. Trust me, we're very aware of how powerful a tool it can be. It can also destroy you, and the reason people choose not to pass is rarely because they haven't "learned this lesson" but because they simply can't afford the crushing effects on their mental health.
posted by brook horse at 8:27 AM on August 16 [12 favorites]

Shout out to Barbara&Barbara in Chicago, who have been doing this with style since 2010!! Back then it used to be you'd get a can of PBR with your $20 gender-neutral haircut (I always had to drive, so couldn't partake).

Seriously though, they are awesome. And one of the reasons I kept going back to get my hair cut by Valter at B&B even when it took me 45 mins to get there (and I was going every 6 weeks because I had short hair), was because I respect the fact they respect me with their gender neutral pricing structure. I refuse to go to hair salons that have gendered pricing now.

Incidentally, after moving away from Chicago I found that cheap salon franchises like Great Clips and Supercuts are also good for gender neutral cuts and pricing. Once you are outside Chicago, getting a good short hair cut as a woman in the Midwest is... challenging. Surprisingly the people working in the cheap franchises were more open to doing a 'boys' haircut than the fancy places that charged $80.
posted by EllaEm at 8:45 AM on August 16

EllaEm, The fancy places have a certain image their trying to project/protect. They also have an image in their heads probably of the type of clientele they attract. I would bet good money that they wouldn't be able to tolerate the thought of someone getting what they would consider a "bad" or "inappropriate" haircut at their Salon, then going out into the world and telling people where they got that haircut. Would scare off the actual types of client they want to attract. The people working at the chain haircut places honestly DNGAF, or at least that's been my experience when I was much younger and Supercuts was all I could afford, or all that was in my limited geographic radius.
posted by sharp pointy objects at 8:52 AM on August 16 [1 favorite]

I think the biggest obstacle to people just being able to be people, with whatever haircut makes them happy is Corporate America (insert your country here). When you're young, your styling choices are mostly controlled by your guardians. If they're good, they'll let you explore what makes you happiest in clothing/hair choices. But then you graduate, either HS or college. You have to enter the working world in some fashion. And here's where most people hit the brick wall of the Corporate Handbook. I had short blue hair for my last few teen years, but once I had to get a person-facing corporate job, the hair had to go. It hurt. It's hurt for decades. I finally, FINALLY, got the courage to cut and dye it blue again, 20 years later. I feel closer to my true self than I have in so long it's almost physically painful when I stop to think about it deeply.

From what I've seen of the young people in my life, norms are changing. Gender neutral or non-conforming clothing and hair choices are a lot more accepted and welcomed in the under-20 crowd. I'm low-key terrified on behalf of these young adults for what's going to happen in the next few years when they have to get jobs that'll pay the bills, if they can't find work that'll accept their outward presentation for who they really are.

Things ARE changing. 40 years ago, the Corporate Handbook would insist on business appropriate skirts or pantsuits for women, pantyhose wasn't optional, and hair had to be your natural color or dyed well enough that it wasn't obvious it was dyed. It's not like that anymore, in many places. Change away from these norms is never going to be fast enough for the people who are being hurt by these norms right now. It makes me angry when I think about it, but I don't have any solutions other than burn it all down?
posted by sharp pointy objects at 9:07 AM on August 16 [2 favorites]

I currently have long hair, mostly because I'm too lazy to get it cut; I haven't cut it since the start of the pandemic, other than when I had some accident with some liquid rubber.

I love how convenient it is (mine doesn't easily tangle). I almost always wear it up, out of the way, so I don't have to worry about styling it or product or what time of the day I wash it.

I hate how it reads to other people. I hate the compliments I get when I wear it down. I hate that the way my hair grows out of my head is interpreted as a statement on my gender, my desirability as someone with the gender that people generally presume I am, my own sexual identity, etc and so forth. I hate that it takes actual effort for me not to pass because this ... feature... is so strongly gendered.

anyway, in conclusion: more manbuns
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:42 AM on August 16

kept going back to get my hair cut by Valter

When you realize you and a mefite you don't know have had your hair cut by the same person.
posted by phunniemee at 9:43 AM on August 16 [3 favorites]

Pretty sure the haired/hairless binary (a.k.a. male pattern baldness) has more to do with it in my case

I hear that. I occasionally yearn for something less "aggressively disappearing into the unmarked" (but also agender, and not "a mix of masculine & feminine" as some interpret it), but I run into the roadblock of having no idea what that would look like, for me or in general.

So much imagery/representation around people visually challenging gender norms fits into such narrow windows along other dimensions. Weight especially, race, AGAB, etc.
And that's hardly the fault of the people spotlit, of course; media has its biases even if it's trying to shuck some of them. But it leaves me unable to find people/details and go "This is what I'd like to aspire to!" or "That's me!" And I don't have the capacity for mental visualization that would let me invent that sort of thing whole-cloth for myself.

I think the answer to "what does a gender-neutral haircut look like if one doesn't have much capacity for hair?" might be "maybe look at expressing oneself more through other elements", but there's so much emphasis put on hair as expression culturally that it's not as easy as that.
posted by CrystalDave at 11:30 AM on August 16 [1 favorite]

I think hair stands astride a massive intersection of gender, queerness, race, ethnicity, class, occupation, age, exposure to testosterone, and time period. I'm probably missing something in there.

The more we can remove patriarchal and sexist notions of who should have what hair, the better. Queer hair is more complicated than just flipping a sexist binary on its head, it's a form of signaling identity and belonging, as well as a way to signal rejection of social norms.
posted by Chrysopoeia at 12:30 PM on August 16 [3 favorites]

What non-male options are available for a fully bald-on-top man?
Asking for a friend. An identical friend. No jealousy. Not at all.

But if y’all make male pattern baldness a gender-neutral look, I’ll know you mean business.

Meanwhile, maybe I’ll get myself some microscopic perms.
posted by svenni at 1:16 PM on August 16 [1 favorite]

I stopped getting haircuts almost 20 years ago now, for what I didn't realize at the time were gender-related reasons. The idea of an affirming haircut is somewhat appealing, but frankly I don't know what I'd get out of it? My hair has been at terminal length for a long time now, so I don't need a cut to maintain a certain length. It's also pretty curly, which I understand can also be a problem for a lot of stylists.

I know people get trims for split ends, but it seems like whatever I have going on in that area just gets lost in the curls anyway. One time a friend of mine was talking about getting her split ends cleaned up and I asked if she thought I should do the same but she said I didn't need it.

I love my hair. When I have it in good order (recently washed, properly product'd) and I'm out and about, I somewhat regularly get spontaneous complements on it from women (it's always women). It's really validating for me, especially since I otherwise present pretty 'male' and I know the risks for women in speaking to men they don't know. So I'm doing something pretty right!

But... I never really hear other people talking about how they literally never get a haircut. Am I missing something?
posted by vibratory manner of working at 4:55 PM on August 16

Need to see these haircuts on an older set. I have the unfortunate habit of taking photos of gorgeous youngsters to my stylist and being shocked at the result.
posted by sophrontic at 7:35 AM on August 17 [2 favorites]

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