First Barbershop Visit Guide for Trans Guys, Butch Lesbians, And Anyone Else Getting The Big Chop (But Is Anxious About It)
For many transmasc, butch, and genderqueer people, the first time you get a good haircut - one that leaves you feeling like the hottest and most awesome version of you - is a pretty big deal. But if you’ve always had long hair before and never set foot in a barbershop before, the idea can be pretty intimidating. That’s why we’ve put together this post of the ultimate guide to getting your first masc haircut stress-free!
Before You Get To The Barbershop - Haircut Preparation
First off, you might not actually need to prepare a whole bunch for this. It doesn’t have to be a huge deal, and you could probably walk into most places you just pass on the street and get a decent cut. But if you’re someone who likes to take things slow and steady, or you know you’ll feel better having done your research, here are some ideas on what you can do beforehand to make getting your masculine haircut as smooth as possible.
Choosing Your Haircut
A lot of people feel paralysed when trying to pick a hairstyle. There’s so much (sometimes conflicting) advice it can go all the way back around to being constricting again.
If you can find a picture of a style you like, that’s great. If you can narrow down your preferences at all, even if it’s just “I don’t like when there’s a sharp line between the long and short hair,” or “I don’t want a style that needs product,” that’s great. But if not, just pick something at random. Or have a friend pick. Or ask the barber when you get there. This really is a case of done is better than perfect.
This might seem counterintuitive when you’re meant to be getting a haircut that will make you feel like you (but a super-hot and even cooler version) and the fear of ‘picking wrong’ can be hard to overcome. But I’ll let you in on a little secret – there is no ‘wrong’ choice. Whatever you pick, that’s you, and it’s going to be awesome. (Welcome to the divine alchemy of the self, baby.)
Sure, the odds of you picking the 100% most masculine and perfect haircut for you on your first visit aren’t super high. But the odds of you looking a whole lot more like you want to are. If once it’s done, you realise you’d prefer it slightly different, it’s no problem – hair grows quick and you’ll be able to have it redone in just a few weeks.
Finding A Queer Friendly Barbershop
If you live near a big city, finding a queer / trans friendly barbershop might be as simple as googling it. There are great places out there, such as Opens Barbers in London, who offer haircuts for all lengths of hair and all genders of people. But in other places, especially more rural ones, it can be a bit harder.
Asking for recommendations from other queer people is usually the best way to go. If you have queer friends in the same area, ask them about their experiences at local barbers. At the very least, they might be able to tell you where to avoid. Or you could try online groups for your area, especially if you’d like to stay anonymous.
You can also check out the website or Instagram of the barbershop you’re interested in, which might give you an idea of their general vibe. Look for things like including pronouns, and celebrating Pride month.
The other way to find out if a barbershop is queer friendly is to ask them yourself, which leads us onto the next point.
Contact Them Beforehand
If you’re socially anxious, then this might sound like the last thing you want to do, but it can actually make the day of the haircut much less stressful if you’ve already got all the answers to your questions.
You can outright ask them if they’re used to trans or queer clients, or if understandably you would rather not out yourself, you can ask more practical based questions such as are they able to cut your hair from long and how long that will take. It can be a good idea to let them know if you have long hair anyway, because the appointment may take longer in that case, depending on what cut you want.
You might want to ask about their quietest times and make a booking for then, so there won’t be too many other people around.
It’s also a good chance to find out things like are you allowed to bring a friend along, what their pandemic precautions are, and anything else that might be adding to your worry. This could be over the phone, by email, or through their social media page.
While You’re At The Barbershop
This is easier said than done, but even if you’re feeling anxious inside you can still act confident. You have as much right to be there as anyone else. If you’re self-conscious about walking in with long hair, remember cis men have long hair pretty often too, and nobody will think it's out of place.
Truthfully nobody except the barber cutting your hair is going to pay much attention to you, and that’s their job. It might be a big deal to you, but to them you’re probably just one of many customers today, and they’re more likely to be thinking about their own boring stuff than judging you.
Just acting confident will make you feel better, and when you act like you belong people don’t tend to question it.
Speak Up For Yourself
Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself. Even if you don’t know much about hair, you can still let them know if you don’t like something, want to go a bit shorter, or correct them if they assume you want something less masculine than you had planned.
Remember, it’s the barber’s job to give you the haircut you’re happy with. It’s actually helpful if you can give them any directions with that.
If you often find yourself too nervous to say what you mean to, it can help to practice saying phrases you might need in front of the mirror.
Bring a Friend
This depends on pandemic restrictions, but if it’s possible to bring a friend with you to the barbershop and you think that might be helpful for you, go for it! A friend can help you feel more at ease and help speak up for you, plus give feedback on how you’re looking. Be sure to pick someone you know will be supportive, and hopefully as excited about your first masc haircut as you are!
After You Get Your Sick New Haircut
Hopefully you’re feeling amazing! It can be super euphoric to get a haircut that really reflects you, and may alleviate some dysphoria. Here’s a few ideas of what to do now you’ve got your new look:
- Selfie sesh – if you like your haircut, it’s a good idea anyway to take some pics from all angles to use a reference next time. But if you’re really feeling yourself, take some selfies to celebrate how cool and hot you look. Even if you weren’t into taking selfies before, you might find that’s changed now you’re looking so good!
- Show your friends – truthfully, there might be some people in your life who question your haircut. Not everyone’s going to understand or appreciate it. But you can help guard yourself against that negativity by showing all your supportive friends and loved ones who you know will be hyped, and rake in the compliments. Be sure to remember what they say, and remind yourself of it whenever you’re struggling with negativity.
- Treat yourself – schedule in some time to take it easy after your haircut. Even if you’re feeling pretty good about it, it can be a stressful day and you might be having a lot of emotions going on. Give yourself some to rest, relax, and celebrate.
What if I can't go to the barbershop?
Sometimes walking into a barbershop for your first big chop might be a bit much for you to handle right now. That’s alright, there are other options. Here’s a few ideas for getting the great masc haircut you want with less stress.
- Buzzcut – a buzzcut is when you use clippers to clip your hair to a uniform short length all over your head. If you’re anxious about going to the barbershop with long hair, you could try doing the big chop at home and giving yourself a buzzcut to neaten it up, they’re hard to mess up! Then once it’s grown out a bit, you can go to the barbershop to get it styled in the way that you want.
- Find a friend – ask around and see if any of your friends have some clippers and can do your hair. It can be a lot more relaxed than a barbershop and a fun thing to do together.
- Learn to use clippers yourself – another option is to invest in a decent pair of clippers, and learn to use them on yourself. It might take a while to learn, but it’s a cool skill to have and once your skill level is good enough, you’ll be able to give yourself whatever style you want without the cost, hassle, or stress of a barbershop.
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