Communicating with your hairstylist what you want in a haircut and actually getting it can be surprisingly tough — especially so when your gender expression doesn’t align with what the person holding the scissors thinks it should be. Keeping this in mind, we collaborated with queer stylists to get six Autostraddle readers the queercuts of their dreams, and create helpful images you can show to your own stylist, too.
This project was made possible by Khane Kutzwell of Camera Ready Kutz and the team at Manetamed, who incredibly generously donated their time and skills. If you need a haircut in the NYC area, give them a visit!
On Katie: The Perfectly Swooped Undercut
“I’m non-binary, queer, and am still finding better terms to fit me. These days, I get my hair cut at the barbershop in my subway station, because a) it’s incredibly cheap and b) it’s still the most brazenly butch thing I’ve ever done, as someone who can’t escape being read as female. It’s a very bro-y place, and it’d be nice to get my hair cut by cool people who don’t seem to be on the verge of shaving my head for spite.”
“I love this haircut so! It’s exactly what I need; I can easily wash and go, or tweak it with product for a more serious lewk when I feel like it. It makes me really happy to look in the mirror. I feel more like me.”
On Omaria: The High Top Fade
“My experience with other barber shops is that they’re usually male-dominated, which is an intimidating thing to walk into. It’s really hard to ask for and actually get what I want. We’ll have a back and forth, and then they’ll still do something more feminine, and won’t take down the sides or give me the real fade I’m hoping for.”
“Here, there was no back and forth necessary. Khane heard what I asked for, and gave me exactly that. I feel so comfortable in this space; this was a way more positive experience than I’m used to.”
On Virginia: The Hidden Buzz
“I’m from a small town in New Jersey that’s an hour away from New York City by train, but a world away in terms of cultural environment. Since I recently started exploring my queer identity, I wanted a badass cut that I could hide when need be, and that would feel really personal to me.”
“I’d Googled a few pictures of elaborate designs for this cut, but wasn’t really attached to any one, and I love the design that Khane did more than any of what I picked out. I feel empowered; this is an important part of my identity that I’m now putting on display.”
On Margaret: The Short-Banged, Spiky Pixie
“I just finished a long, intense coding bootcamp on top of my regular job, which made it hard to find time for taking care of me. So this was a chance for me to do something for myself, and I wanted to get a cut from someone who understands that when I say I want it short, I really want it short.”
“I’m so happy with the way my hair turned out! Vivian cut it all asymmetrical and funky, just like I asked for. I feel really great, and I can’t wait to go home and show it off!”
On Rebecca: The Flawlessly Faded Side Shave
“I love having long hair, but I also wanted the chance to do something dramatic with it. I recently started looking up side shave pictures, but worried that going for it might be too bold a move. And then I saw that this project was happening and I thought, ‘Well, I no longer have an excuse.'”
“I brought my friend along for emotional support, but it turns out maybe I didn’t need it; everyone is so friendly here, and my barber, Dre, did an amazing job on my hair. I’m so excited to experiment now with styling it!”
On Nora: The Soft, Long-Banged Pixie
“Since I’ve been working on embracing my less-femme-ininity, I’ve become super interested in getting a skater boi hairdo to match. Lurking on Ruby Rose’s Instagram helped me realize I wanted something short, but that still had length in the front. But then I started waffling on it because, well, who has Ruby Rose bone structure?”
“I love, love, love this hair! Magda was so fun to talk to, and it was especially nice to be in a less heteronormative space than at other salons (last time I got my haircut, there were a lot of assumptions about boyfriends). It was really exciting to go through a major change, and to be somewhere so supportive and safe during the process.”
Thanks to the stylists, models, and everyone else who got in touch about this project!