Haircuts: A cultural perspective

The Hair CutterySince moving to the US two years ago, I have dreaded going to the hairdresser. One reason for this is the fact that styling your hair in this country is just too damn expensive. The price of a haircut here is really excessive, especially if you want a stylish cut. The last time I decided to do that I paid around $70, partly due to my "long hair," which stipulated higher charges.

Another reason is the the myriad of comments I usually receive about my hair whenever I make a journey to the beauty salon. Besides the usual comments about the length of my hair, hairdressers (of all nationalities, including one Hispanic and one South Korean) often make annoyed remarks about the amount of hair I have on my head. Apparently, I have "too much hair," which seems to tire hairdressers here. I find the comment about the quantity of my hair particularly amusing since back in Jordan my hairdresser used to complain about my "light hair." "You must be using a large amount of conditioner. It is very light," my Amman-based hairdresser used to tell me. I guess the gauge for "normal" amounts of hair varies across continents.

So last weekend I got a haircut. Refusing to pay $70, I went to the McDonalds of US beauty salons: the Hair Cuttery. The outcome was satisfactory. I got a decent haircut for $19 but when I asked my South Korean hairdresser about a blow-dry she said she would charge me $20 additional because I have "long hair." Hearing this figure, I immediately nixed the idea. To win me back she offered to charge me the "regular length hair" price of $10. I agreed and ended up paying $33 (including tip) to get this more mainstream haircut. I was satisfied. It definitely beats the $70 I paid several months ago for a "stylish" one. Of course, once again I had to endure comments like, "You have beautiful, healthy hair but it is too much hair." I was willing to put up with that one last time for the reduced charge.

While getting my hair done at the Hair Cuttery, I suddenly felt nostalgic. I missed my hairdresser back in Amman who charged me $10 for both a haircut and a blow-dry. This service, of course, came with a cup of Turkish coffee and a very nice chat as Arabic pop music played in the background. Sigh! Who would have thought that haircuts could reveal such curious cultural comparatives.

By Natasha Tynes

Iā€™m a Jordanian-American journalist, writer, and media development professional based in Washington, DC.

6 comments

  1. Natasha, when you are ready to have babies, come home to have them! The amount you save will cover your airline ticket. The cost of my c-sections here didn’t even meet our deductible in health insurance.

    If you and Jeff both get dental work done, and you get your hair TOTALLY cut and seshwared, you will have save hundreds of dollars and still seen Jordan! Now, then if you add a pedicure…oh, stop me now. šŸ˜€

  2. Kinzi .. totally agree with that.
    my cousin saved 3000 dollars just when he had his dental work in Jordan (he’ll still stay in the US for his c/section lol). Of course you should know where you’re gonna receive this medical and dental work before you go.

    As for haircuts, for guys like me who care less about how they look like, I just get my haircut next door, I pay 10 bucks and tell him to cut it “number 2” and that takes care of my hair for 2 months. I’ve been going there for 3 years.

  3. Good post. Even for the outstanding US citizen, such as myself, getting a haircut is a debacle. Keeping with the Middle Eastern theme, I get my dome fur cut at the bazaar…oh yeah! The upper-class Rosslyn Metro Bazaar. Just ask Jeff what I mean.

  4. Enjoyed this note about haircuts. It does differ across the sea, but the comments from hairdressers were the most surprising. They’d be pleased with me, for I have little hair left!

  5. Natasha, I would think the M & B’s prodigious reproduction would distract the attention from you! But, I suppose I know better. šŸ™‚ BTW, I think you have gorgeous hair, all those hairdressers are just jealous!

    Hareega, lol! You could start a ‘referral’ business for overseas medical tourism. Poor Natasha couldn’t do the #2 $10 cut, remember she has TOO much hair!

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