Some insensitive and outdated habits, like gendered price charts, continue to exist within the hair industry. Categorizing cuts according to the binary “male-female” scale may seem insignificant to some, but it can actually have an enormous impact on the well-being of members of the LGBTQIA2S+ community. With the UNGENDERED campaign, MJ Déziel, queer hairdresser and founder of the hair salon APART Studio, wanted to bring a paradigm shift to the hair world. The campaign video, made with the support of Redken and Concept JP, features duos of all genders and identities sporting the same haircut. The looks, imagined by Déziel in collaboration with Sygie Gagné from Quebec City hair salon La Chop, require the same amount of time, whether they’re worn by someone whose gender expression is masculine, feminine, or androgynous.
We caught up with Déziel to get the lowdown on the important campaign.
How did you come up with the campaign idea?
For a long time, I’ve been wanting to create a campaign that would represent me and my style, and I wanted to be the one orchestrating all of its creative aspects. Gendering price charts in the hair industry is a seemingly trivial habit that can have heavy consequences. Some people are frequently misgendered, and simply thinking about going to a hair salon can end up being a source of anxiety for them. This habit can also impact the way our profession is perceived. Many hair stylists refuse to take on “male” customers because they assume it’ll be less profitable. That’s a direct result of a poorly constructed scale, which doesn’t take into account a number of variables – like the complexity of certain techniques, the hairdresser’s expertise, and the time required – to adequately price hair services. The same goes when barbers say they don’t take “female” customers, when they probably mean to say that they don’t cut long hair. We have to update our vocabulary, people! On top of the haircuts you see in the campaign, I also wanted to break other stereotypes by casting someone with a feminine gender expression and a shaved head, as well as someone with a masculine gender expression and pastel hair.
How does adopting gender-neutral pricing bring about positive change for customers, more specifically the LGBTQIA2S+ community?
Neutralizing price charts is the direct answer to many problems in the hair industry, and not just for my community! We have to make sure our environments are inclusive and safe for our clientele by focusing on what really matters. Getting paid adequately, based on the parameters I outlined earlier, also helps us improve our own perception of our profession as hairdressers.
Do you sense a wind of change in the hair world when it comes to inclusivity and the revolution of gender norms?
Yes, absolutely. I’m not the first one to make adjustment–I didn’t reinvent the wheel: many independent hairdressers who left the traditional hair world have joined this movement. I still felt it was necessary to elevate the conversation, though, because some people remain hesitant to embrace such changes.
What impact do you hope this campaign will have?
I’m all about bringing solutions to the table. I have hope that all hair salons will eventually implement this inclusion initiative.
You opened APART Studio in Montreal two years ago. Inclusivity, freedom, environmental consciousness, and a sense of community have always been at the heart of your salon. What made you want to create this unique space? How do these values come to life at APART?
I worked within different business models in the industry to understand what works and what needs to be reworked. With my experience and knowledge, I was determined to create my own little space that reflects my core values: an environment that is safe for everyone, that is eco-friendly, that encourages sharing and belonging to a creative community, and finally, that allows me to surround myself with skilled hairdressers who perfect their art on a daily basis. I wanted to give independent hairdressers an opportunity to grow in a place where freedom of expression rules and is a means to redefine the industry of tomorrow.
Book your appointment at APART Studio.
UNGENDERED credits: Campaign creator & art director: MJ Déziel; Co-art director: Sygie Gagné; Producer: Véronique Perreault; Models: Amélie and Céleste (Folio Montreal), Bastien (Dulcedo), Tyrin (System Agency) and Jack, Oona, Tasha, Noamane, Dylan and Alexe (Faces MGMT); Director, director of photography and editor: Helene Ha; First assistant camera: Laura Torres; Lead stylist: Amanda Breeze; Assistant stylist: Shahneli Saint-Clair; Makeup artists: Garance Mouz and Audrey Cousineau; Lead electrician: Cloé Lafortune; Music: Robert Robert (Chivi Chivi); Photographer: Jodi Heartz; Photo assistant: Renaud Lafrenière.
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