A Palmerston North man is devastated after a hairdresser allegedly refused to give him the cut he wanted because it was a "girl's hairstyle", then cut it short against his wishes.
Jacob Lister went for a haircut at Just Cuts over the weekend. He has been growing his hair out for two-and-a-half years and it was down between his shoulder blades when he went in for a trim.
He brought his girlfriend along to the hairdresser as a reference, as she had the exact style and length he was wanting.
"The hairdresser ran her finger through my girlfriend's hair so she was very clear around the haircut I wanted," he told Newshub.
Despite having made the request, however, it appeared the hairdresser had her own views on the haircut Lister should be getting. He says without his permission and blatantly ignoring his instructions, she opted to give him what she called a 'boys haircut'.
"Her immediate response was, 'you don't want this hairstyle, this is a girl's hairstyle'," Lister recounts.
"She started at the back, where I couldn’t see her working - and I trusted her because she kept saying she had over 20 years of experience. When she got to the sides, she took a single handful of each side and cut the entire length of my hair.
"On the other side, she deliberately cut it in a way to gloat at how much she was taking off... She didn't want to style my hair, she just wanted to cut it all off for her own fun."
Lister said he initially took the hairdresser's comments as her "boomer attempts at banter", and believed it to be a joke.
"But at the end of the haircut, when she finished, she said 'now you've got a boy's haircut' - immediately she has ideas that somehow hairstyles are gendered."
Lister said he didn't speak up at the time because he was worried he'd cry in front of other customers. But the experience left him and his girlfriend "devastated", and now he's not sure if he'll ever let anyone cut his hair again.
"She [my girlfriend] was really excited, we both were when the haircut started," he says. "It wasn't until far too late into the haircut until either of us realised how much of my hair was getting cut off.
"We couldn't have done anything to prevent it, so we decided to leave without making a scene and to calm down before we did anything."
Just Cuts released a statement saying they were extremely disappointed to hear about Lister's experience and are conducting a review into the incident.
"We were extremely disappointed to hear about this Client’s experience," Just Cuts say. "The owner was in contact extensively with them over the weekend and yesterday [Monday] morning in the salon to make amends and to apologise.
"Fortunately, this is a rare occurrence but we take this matter very seriously and are now also reviewing what happened to result in this Client not getting the Style Cut that was asked for."
While unhappy with his experience, Lister wanted to make it clear he wasn't blaming Just Cuts, as they had apologised and attempted to make amends when he had complained.
"I talked to the store owner through their Facebook page and she was immediately really apologetic. I went in and saw her on Monday morning, explained my story and once again [she] was really apologetic, other staff were really apologetic," he told Newshub.
"They gave me a full refund and some products. Every other staff member was really good about it."
But Lister now wants his experience to open up more conversations about gendered and sexist attitudes when it comes to hairstyling.
"If a female had walked in with hair as long as mine and asked for a small trim, there is no way they would've walked out with the hair that I have now," he said.
"I don't want this to be a story about attacking a particular hairdresser that did it, because for me the message that this story carries is more important…
"It's just a line of thinking that needs to be talked about more."