Barber Polemics: Hairdressers vs. History

The Wall Street Journal: “Tired of having their iconic red, white and blue symbol co-opted by mere hairdressers who aren’t certified barbers, state tonsorial regulators are sending enforcement agents with citation books to fine salons that install poles … Barbers say the pole is theirs alone, a historical symbol rooted to a time when barbers also yanked teeth and did blood letting. The red stripe represents blood, the white symbolizes bandages, and the blue, according to some theories, is for veins, say barber historians.”

“The snippy back-and-forth comes as old-school short haircuts, popularized in shows like Mad Men, are back in fashion and as young men are bigger groomers than past generations. That presents an opportunity to barbers who have been luring back men after losing them over the years to hair salons … James Murdock, riding the commuter train into Boston recently, favors barbers for his hairdo: shaved sides and ample on top. A salon cut ‘might look better, but most people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference,’ and barbers are cheaper and faster, said Mr. Murdock.”

“John Foley, riding the same train, insisted ‘you can’t get a good haircut at the barber.’
Mr. Foley, a Providence resident and software engineer in Boston, said his hairdresser taught him the ‘multistep process’ for maintaining his short, retro look, involving a pre-blow dry, mousse, another blow-dry, followed by molding paste. ‘That’s just the expertise you wouldn’t get at an average barber shop,’ the 27-year-old said.”


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