Gone tomorrow


For twenty-plus years, I used to deal with my hair by having a short-back-and-sides haircut: I liked it very short, and I went back to have it clipped again every time it got much over a couple of inches.

This repeated trim was pretty damn expensive if I did it at a hairdressers, but I discovered soon that the barber’s shop would give me the kind of cut I wanted, cheap. So I found a handy barber’s shop and became a regular customer.

About ten years ago, I had a temporary move to another town, and after about a month there, I realized I needed a haircut. So naturally, thinking no harm, as I was in the town centre, I walked into the nearest barber’s shop, where one man was having his hair cut and two barbers (one man, one woman) were sitting around waiting for customers.

The two barbers look up as I walk in, and the woman says, instantaneously, “I don’t cut women’s hair.”

“I just want a dry trim,” I explained. “A number four?” I used the name of the setting on the barber’s clippers to indicate I knew the kind of barber’s cut I wanted.

“No,” she said emphatically. “We don’t cut women’s hair.”

I was a bit surprised that they’d turn away a customer, and said so, but I wasn’t going to argue: if they didn’t want my money, I’d go somewhere else.

“You won’t find any barber’s shop HERE that will cut women’s hair,” she said.

I walked over to another barber’s shop and told them the story: two barbers, both men, no customers, seemed to think it was funny but one of them gave me the dry trim I’d asked for, short back and sides, normal barber’s shop charges – about 85% cheaper than if I’d got the same cut done in a hairdressers.

I resent the “unisex” hairdresser who, when I asked for a dry trim from the men’s board, charged me three times the price (a “dry trim” was not listed on the women’s board, where the prices were at least doubled) and told me when I complained that I was a woman so it cost more to cut my hair. #MFIF

Hair Today, UK

19 Responses to “Gone tomorrow”

  1. Trix Says:

    I call that the “female tax” at the hairdressers. I’ve had -two- hairdressers in three countries charge me the same as the men’s rate for my very short haircut (it has more styling than a clipper cut, but it’s still cut above my ears).

    All of the other hairdressers I’ve been to have charged me for a “ladies’ haircut”, which is always 50-200% more than the mens’.

    (If a barber did the kind of cut I wanted, I’d go to them, but unfortunately they don’t.)

  2. crochethook Says:

    I have found that there is a real reluctance to believe that any woman would ever want her hair clippered in the first place. I used to have a short-back-and-sides done by a barber and was very happy with it. When he moved away all of the new people I went to refused to believe I would want it cut that way. Everytime the stylist would offer the opinion that they would prefer to cut it very short at the back with scissors instead as it was more “feminine.” Cue long argument which would only end when I said it was clippers or I would take my custom elsewhere.

    These days I have a very short bob but I like the back to be clippered to a grade 2 to stop it getting shapeless too quickly. I am still having the same argument. I take in photos of how I want my hair but the general opinion still seems to be that I couldn’t possibly know what I really mean and that what I want is a “feminine” cut done with bloody scissors.

    • Alibelle Says:

      Ugh, yes! When I was like in 7th grade I decided I wanted a really short clippered haircut. I went to the hairdresser that my mom went to. After I explained exactly what I wanted (I think I even had a picture) the woman asked me if I wanted it like my mom’s hair. Uh, no. I just explained to you how I wanted it (my mom’s hair was short but cut with scissors and more “fem”) I told you in detail what I wanted, so no, not like my mom’s.

      She nodded and I sat down and she got out the scissors and cut my hair just like my mom’s and I hated it for the year it took to get to a point where it looked normal.

  3. Pavlov's Cat Says:

    I share your annoyance. And I have a male friend with very long hair who doesn’t get charged ‘women’s prices’ for his haircuts. Agree with Trix that this is a ‘female tax’.

    • MelRedcap Says:

      I HATE this! I have very long hair, I understand that yes, it’s more trouble to deal with even if I’m having a simple trim. I don’t mind paying a ‘length tax’. But when there’s a ‘length tax’ AND a ‘female tax’ so that I end up paying more than a man who has hair the same as or longer than mine, I get pissed off!

  4. A Different Sam Says:

    It’s a well-documented scientific phenomenon that hair-cutting difficulty is directly proportional to the number of X chromosomes the customer has. The hair itself doesn’t affect the difficulty at all – that would just be silly – since gender is obviously the important factor here.

  5. Ariock Says:


    I was in Atlanta recently and needing a haircut. I’m a man, and between the conference I was attending and the hotel I was staying in, there was a men’s barber shop. They seemed like they were trying to be a little piece of nostalgia. Straight razors, hot towels, cocktails while you wait, the whole thing.

    Since it was convenient, I went in and a gentleman started cutting my hair. He told me how happy he was not to be cutting women’s hair anymore because of how demanding they were. How upset they would get that he couldn’t get their hair to look like *insert star name here*. I told him that my ex-wife was always very reasonable when she’d get her hair cut. And she loved getting the full salon treatment and hair coloring, etc. The only time she’d complain was when the color looked obviously unnatural. He just reaffirmed how happy he was at the barber shop.

    I imagine they might have reacted similarly if you’d gone into that shop. I hope they wouldn’t, but looking back, they probably would. And that sucks.

  6. Julian Says:

    I used to have my hair similar to yours, Hair Today – there is officially no barber in Oxford who will deign to take their clippers to Y-chromosome free hair. The women’s hairdressers would listen carefully to what I asked for and then proceed to give me a Lady Diana bouffant regardless. I did eventually find a barbers (top of Rosebery Avenue, Angel, London) who would do it for me, at men’s prices, although they thought it was absolutely hilarious and one of them was convinced I only went in there because I fancied him. *arghgh*

  7. Flutterby Says:

    Although I do like to grow my hair out a bit to enjoy dying it fun colors, I’ll get sick of it pretty quickly and buzz it off at least once a year. Most of the time, I go to a barber who is also a friend of mine, and there’s no problem. But when I went to get it shaved off about a week ago, the woman would NOT stop trying to convince me that I didn’t want what I wanted. She even said I would start to cry if she cut it all off. Eventually, she just started off by clipping it down to 1 1/2 inches and getting progressively shorter, warning me with each new attachment that I’d hate it. Took fucking forever.

    If they’d tried to charge me extra after all that just because I’m female, I think I would’ve started yelling.

  8. comixminx Says:

    Julian, if you mean Oxford, UK (which I assume) then I always used to go to High St Barbers next to Queen’s to get my hair cut. I had a short hair cut done with clippers for some 10 years; I was careful to go back to the place I knew well because yes, I too found that some barbers would refuse to cut women’s hair. Apparently legally too – though I don’t know how I would go about finding chapter and verse on that.

  9. Suzanne Says:

    Anyone in London wanting clippered hair should go to Vidal Sassoon – they absolutely LOVE doing it. I model for them and they keep almost completely shaving off the back of my hair, even though I don’t especially like it! Is expensive in the salons, but the schools do discounts/almost free cut and colour.

  10. Eva Says:

    Both my boyfriend and I have mohawks, and I cannot STAND the fact that, even if we go to the same place, I have to pay more for a simple cut than he does. IT DOES NOT TAKE $17 WORTH OF WORK TO TRIM THE ENDS OF MY HAWK >:/

    We just moved, right next to two barbers — one says explicitly on the front “Men Only,” but I think I might try the other.

  11. MelRedcap Says:

    I shaved my head for charity several years ago. Before that (and now, it’s grown back), I had hair down to my hips. When I was drumming up donations for the shave-off, some people were supportive, a couple of people asked what my boyfriend thought of my plans, and one woman completely freaked. On the day of the event, she actually tried to bribe the hairdressers who came in to shave the participants’ heads to leave my hair alone! Apparently it was fine for the MEN who were doing this to get their heads buzzed with clippers, but MY hair was my ‘crowning glory’ and leaving it intact was more important than my choice.

    She was whimpering “oh, no, no, noooo” as I took a pair of scissors to my ponytail and covered her face as the clippers came in for the first swipe. 😛 I laughed and raised over $1500 for leukaemia research!

  12. Brie B. Says:

    Speaking as a beauty school dropout, the reason women’s prices are higher is because women usually don’t get their hair cut as often (or, at least, that’s what I was told by the teacher). A typical, long-haired woman might get a haircut every six months; a typical short-haired man will get his trimmed every six weeks.
    Unfortunately, it works out as being fucking sexist for women with short hair, especially since I know more than a few men whose hairstyles are at least twice as complicated as yours and I’m sure pay the men’s price (and could walk into any barbershop in the country and be served, albeit knowing that as soon as they leave, the barber will likely describe them using a word that begins with f and rhymes with “bag it”)

  13. Anne Says:

    The same happened to me. Last year, my short hair was a mess and I just needed the back to be trimmed with clippers, I thought a barber would be the obvious place but when I rang several places (I live in Edinburgh), I too was told they “didn’t cut women’s hair”. Why? “We just don’t”. The only place happy to cut my hair was unisex and the barber himself had long hair. Initially I didn’t get charged the female tax, not until I came back for more cuts afterwards…

    • jesurgislac Says:

      Hi Anne – if you live in Edinburgh, try Woods on Drummond Street. They used to be OK about doing women’s hair, and didn’t charge the female tax for it. It’s just walk in and wait, so if you’re not free on a weekday morning, go early on a Saturday.

  14. jesurgislac Says:

    Follow up to this: Ottawa barbershop to serve all after complaint: a woman who asked for a mohawk haircut was turned away, claiming constraints in the lease.

    “Ottawa human rights lawyer Nigel McCready said it is a violation of the Ontario Human Rights Code to deny someone service based on gender, whether or not the landlord has a contract with a business owner.”

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