It doesn't have to be Pride Month to be an important time for allies to educate themselves about micro-aggressions, or subtle, but hurtful acts or comments that show implicit bias.
The Dresscode Project's mission is to educate and empower hair stylists and barbers to give people haircuts that help them look the way they feel, and to provide education, events and support to stylists looking to create safer spaces in their areas.
Dresscode Project Founder, Kristin Rankin
"Micro-aggressions are statements, instances or actions taken towards marginalized communities that can be unintentional and the person may even be completely unaware of the aggression, but still cause harm, nonetheless.” says Dresscode Project Founder, Kristin Rankin. “Micro-aggressions are not meant to directly be insulting. That can be the very problem with them. The lack of knowledge, experience or understanding of someone else’s situation can trigger these micro-aggressions and thus, can cut like a knife to the person they’re unknowingly being directed at. Being more aware of our words and who we are saying them to, is a vital part of helping to create more awareness around inclusive spaces."
As hairdressers we interact with all kinds of people, everyday, and it's important to create safer spaces for everyone. That includes the conversations and questions we ask our clients, even if we feel really close to them.
“One aspect of our training is educating hair stylists on how to recognize and avoid saying things that indirectly, and in a lot of cases ignorantly, discriminate against clients within the LGBTQ2S+ communities. This is one way we are trying to create safer space salons,” says Rankin.
While it’s ok to be curious and feel close to a client, it is important to ask them first if they feel comfortable with questions. Remember, it’s not their responsibility to educate you and not everyone is open to doing so, and that’s ok. You can also just let them know you're a judgment free zone if they are ever in need of talking to someone about their experiences and leaving it open to them.
Some examples of questions to not ask are:
So how’d your parents take it?
How do you have sex?
…but weren’t you just dating… (opposite sex)
Are you getting surgery?
You’re too pretty/masculine to be gay / bi / trans, etc.
So you must know so-and-so, they’re also gay / bi / trans, etc. too.
Who’s the man / woman in the relationship?
You don’t look gay / bi / trans, etc.
Extra tip: a micro-aggression that is all too common and incorrectly deemed acceptable by the masses, is the response “I understand” after someone has divulged sensitive, personal information that you have never directly experienced. While this response is often used to express empathy, it can cause people to feel minimized.
Many people have trauma surrounding questions like these and you could be unknowingly triggering them, causing them more stress and anxiety or even, are actually reinforcing false stereotypes about queer people.
The Dresscode Project mission is to educate and empower hair stylists and barbers to give people haircuts that help them look the way they feel. We envisions a world where every hair salon and barbershop is a gender aﬃrming, safer-space for LGBTQ2S+ clients. We want to provide education, events and support too, not only our member salons, but to hairdressers all over the globe looking to create safer spaces in their areas. The Professional Beauty Industry has always been considered a safer space for people within the LGBTQ2S+ communities, but we still have a long way to go with education, acceptance and understanding and it’s our mission to make sure we continue forward momentum.
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