When you think of barbering, you probably associate the craft with men, since a barber generally provides services primarily to male clients. However, women not only get their hair styled at barbershops these days, but they also work in the barbershops behind the chairs. In fact, some statistics point to there being as many female barbers than male barbers. Statistics published by USA Today notes that around half of the 220,000 barbers in the U.S. are women. Some say this is largely due to many aging barbers retiring from the field, and more women than ever stepping up to fill the void.
Maybe you’ve seen the movie Barbershop? (If you haven’t, it is the story of a son who struggles to keep his father’s business alive – starring Ice Cube and Eve among others.) Throughout the movie, the cast appears in the shop, which consists of predominantly Black men. However, one barber named Terri Jones (played by rapper Eve) is a female barber in the shop who works with all black males. Interestingly, her presence in the shop isn’t nearly as controversial as a white male entering into the shop. It just goes to show that women in the barbershop are a surprisingly common sight to see.
Movies are not the only part of the entertainment business to include a female barber. In photographs taken by David Venni for Phillips BodyGroom, actress and model Kelly Brooks portrays a sexy barbershop vixen. In these pictures, she is wearing tight rubber clothing that shows off her curves. The one picture features Kelly wearing a short, black and pink stripped dress holding a razor in each hand while two men sit in barber chairs with a letter “X” on each one of their chests.
Although Kelly and Eve might have played the role of female barbers, there are plenty of real-life women barbers like Patti Dunkin, who owns West End Barber Shop in Maryville, Tennessee. She was originally a financial aid officer, then a stay-at-home mom, and then she finally came to the conclusion that she wanted to cut hair. She attended school to become a master barber, then she worked at two locations and finally decided to open her own shop. Since then, Patty has relished in her success, since her clients not only enjoy a good haircut, but she claims her talkative nature also keeps them coming back for more. She believes that men are intrigued by a barbershop owned by a woman.
Lesa Walton is another female in the barbering industry. She once was a cosmetologist, but she quickly realized she was unhappy fooling around with curling irons. Back in February of 2007, Walton opened Lesa’s Barbershop in Covington, Virginia, which features the symbolic barbershop stripped pole and a stereotypical collection of magazines for men to read, which includes Field and Stream. Lesa states that men are easier clients and fuss less. That is also why Vera Winfield opened up Vera’s Full Service Barber Salon. She states that men are in and out of the shop quicker.
Women look to the field of barbering as much as men for job opportunities that allow them to finish school and start working quickly, earn a reliable salary and serve customers every day. They also appreciate the flexibility and fulfillment their barbering careers offer. So next time you’re on the hunt for a great barbershop, don’t be surprised when you see more women than ever behind the chair.