The Future is Genderless: An Open Letter
To this day, many salons still follow tradition of having different pricing structures for men’s and women’s hair services—with the latter, more often than not, being charged more for haircuts than men. But with society proactively shifting to recognize, accept and appreciate diversity, is it about time the salon industry sees the value in removing gender from pricing and services?
We asked Jo Thomas Wilson (he/him), a trans hairstylist and dog-dad of 3, about his thoughts on the role gender has played in the salon industry, his vision for the future of the beauty industry and steps stylists can take to contribute to the movement. He sees clients at both Pageboy Salon in downtown Athens and at a salon suite in Atlanta, GA.
Read Jo Thomas Wilsons' thoughts about gender roles in the salon industry below.
As a young teen I began doing hair in my bathroom. I was always interested in make-up and hair as a form of expression. Once I decided to make that my career path, I began, like most stylists, with tons of chemical negligence. I never questioned the toxicity of products and hair color I was using and I never realized the waste that salons cause by simply existing. The longer I worked within the industry the more these things became apparent to me. And the more I was becoming low-tox in my home, the more I knew I wanted to be low-tox behind the chair. So long story short, I began the journey of working for myself to bring about the kind of change I wanted to see.
Not only did I want to remove as much waste and toxic chemicals from my footprint, I needed to create a safe, open environment for my clients. This meant removing Gender from my price list. The Beauty Industry has, for too long, taken advantage of charging women, more than men, for services and products. Not to mention, that we DO NOT live in a binary world and therefore can not sustain a system that does not recognize all people and genders. And that is what it boils down to. At the end of the day, gender doesn’t play a role, at all, in what type of haircut you get, whether you get color or not and what all of that looks like. It should be priced according to time and service. By allowing gender to be at the forefront of booking a service, you automatically create an exclusive and not inclusive experience. That person is then put into a category, that they may not feel represents them. Now what? There’s a predisposition to what is going to happen in that appointment. And that’s where we’ve stopped listening to the client and decided for them. Then don’t get started on masculinizing or feminizing a haircut. These are OLD terms and must be replaced with the idea that we are creating shapes and colors to help a person see themselves as who they are or how they’re feeling in that moment.
The future of the Beauty Industry is Genderless. Gender is not to be assigned to us, by anyone, including our Hairstylist. Gender non-conforming humans are always behind the scenes of a system that is only now breaking the binary. We belong, We exist. In order to evolve and grow we most learn from those that understand. I have been in this industry for over 10 yrs, have transitioned behind the chair, and I feel I have some pertinent education to bring to the table. I want to help elevate more LGBTQ voices, reminding them they’re not alone and getting a haircut shouldn’t be this hard. I’m here to Educate Salons and Individuals on what’s its like to be queer, and or gender non conforming, in this industry and how to use more inclusive language, so we aren’t disregarding our clients, before they even sit in our chair. This is Important! We must invest in not only the continued education of our physical craft, but also the experiences of those we are different from. We must learn ways of staying connected to an ever growing community.
So, besides inviting someone like myself to the conversation, consider removing gendered pricing from your menu. Ask yourself if you can seek out more education on the best way to do that for your business. Don’t assume the gender or pronouns of anyone you meet. You can simply ask them their pronouns. We must remember that every client we see is someone just like us, in some way. It may not cross your mind, or affect you, but we are a community of diversity.