Lori Yetman says it’s discriminatory to have two different prices for the same head of hair
Lori Yetman has short hair. She likes her short hair. It suits her well.
She doesn’t like how much more she pays for her short hair than men pay for their short hair.
Yetman says she didn’t realize just how much women pay for haircuts over men until she decided to get a clipper-length buzz cut at a local salon – the same haircut as a man in front of her in line.
“A man and I were checking out at the same time, and the receptionist said to him, ‘That’ll be $20, sir.’ Then, she looked at me and said, ‘That’ll be $46,’” said Yetman.
“The man and I looked at each other and said, ‘What is going on here?’”
Yetman says she was informed that men's and women’s cuts are priced differently, therefore she must pay more for the same haircut as the man in front of her.
Yetman says she insisted on paying the same price for the same haircut, and the receptionist ultimately agreed.
The general rationale for higher-priced hair for women over men is largely that women tend to have more hair, which tends to lead to more time at the salon, more product used, and more labour for the haircut.
Yetman says it’s just plain unfair that women should pay more for their haircut, regardless of complexity.
“It matters because it’s discriminatory. I don’t understand why it isn’t a violation of the human rights code to price in this way. They can argue that women have longer hair,” she said.
“What the receptionist said to me at that time was that women’s cuts are more complicated. In my case, that was not the case. A lot of women are wearing short hair now. If pricing were based not on gender, but on the work that actually went into a hairstyle, it would be a whole different ball game.”
The majority of hair salons in St. John’s price their haircuts based on gender. It’s not rare to find a basic haircut starting at $20 for men and $40 for women at a given salon in the city.
But that’s not the case in every local salon.
Jenn Ghaney, owner of the Seahorse Salon on Harvey Road, has used gender-neutral pricing in her salon since it opened.
“We wanted a space where if someone who identified as male or whatever gender they were, if they could ask for whatever haircut they had, they didn’t necessarily have to label the haircut,” she said.
“That’s what we wanted to move away from.”
Ghaney says it’s particularly poignant when it comes to non-binary or transgender clients.
“As soon as we opened, this is what we put out there,” she said.
“We had new clients coming out of the woodwork saying they never felt comfortable coming to a salon or a female who maybe now identifies as male wanting to go to a barbershop for a haircut and being turned away because they weren’t a traditional male figure.”
The pricing at the Seahorse Salon is based on the labour required to cut the hair. If someone wants a basic cut and shampoo, men and women pay the same. If they want something more complicated, then all genders pay the same.
Yetman said she just hopes the trend of gender-neutral hair pricing catches on.
“When I discovered it, it was $46 versus $20. That’s significant.”