How I Liberated Myself from Barberism

Yes, I spelled that correctly

Douglas Giles, PhD


(Source: Piqsels)

How many activities do we perform in life mainly because at a young age we were told to? We are socialized into a variety of routine behaviors and learn what is expected of us. So we habitually conform to social conventions.

How often do we examine these routines and habits? How often do we ask whether these activities are what we want to do?

Mild Traumas

One constant in my childhood was a disagreement with my mother over the length of my hair. I wanted my hair to extend below the bottom of my ears and she thought boys’ hair should be shorter than the top of their ears. By the time I was around 12 years old, we had reached a tense detente of my hair being about mid-ear length.

My mother was, and still is, a person of habit and routine. Like pretty much everything else in my childhood, there had to be regular appointments with the local barber. I remember the barber as a gruff older man completely unsympathetic to the desires of a boy having longer hair. “You want the ears fully uncovered,” he said, believing he had a right every few months to tell me what I wanted. I suppose that is what my mother was paying him for. Still, the barber took umbrage at my preference for a mid-ear length of cut. He was not open to examining the issue.

No doubt, the mild traumas of the regular trips to be shorn like a sheep (hey, that’s what it felt like to me) contributed to my distaste for barbers. However, my experiences with barberism extended into my early adulthood.

I never wanted to just let my hair grow. Hitting my shoulders was as long as I ever wanted it to be, and my hair was bushy on top and unruly. Socialization says that when you need a haircut, you go to a barber. That’s what people do, so that’s what I should do. So I did. For years, I did.

Examining My Hair Habits

I don’t mean to disparage the profession, but I never found a barber who I could trust. Time and again I would tell the barber what I wanted and didn’t get it. Seemed simple — “please cut it to this length, thin out the back so it is less bushy.” The barber, again and again, male or female, mostly or totally disregarded my request…



Douglas Giles, PhD

Philosopher by trade & temperament, professor for 21 years, bringing philosophy out of its ivory tower and into everyday life.