Hair Unstereotyped: Bailey Pope on Transitioning in the Hair Industry

For our first installment of Hair Unstereotyped, we spoke to a stylist on how her hair played a big part in her transition.

When it comes to the way hair expresses identity, Bailey Pope is the woman to talk to. With over 15 years of experience in the hair industry, Pope works New York Fashion Week, editorial shoots and as a platform artist and educator. Pope is also a proud transgender woman. Now residing in New York City, she shoots and works with some of the top industry leaders as well as teaching in the TIGI Academy.

For the first installment of our new series Hair Unstereotyped, we sat down with Pope to discuss her relationship to her hair and how it’s shifted over time. Based on the premise that there’s more than just one hair story to be told, this project aims to diversify the conversation around hair and highlight real stories. Keep reading to learn more about Pope’s experience coming out and her journey with her hair since:

hair unstereotyped
There’s more than one hair story.

Hair and Its Role in Transitioning

“My hair played a big part in my transition,” Pope says. “Being a hairstylist for about 15 years now, I’ve always been focused on everyone else’s hair and thinking about things I wish I could do to my hair at the time. So once I was able to really do what I wanted with my hair, it was really special for me. I think that hair is something that allows people to express themselves. It helps people really identify who you are and how you put yourself out there.”

When asked about how her relationship with her hair has changed since coming out, Pope says that she’s become a more lived-in styler over the years. “When I first came out, I was styling my hair a lot and curling my hair every day. I have no idea how I had that much time on my hands,” she says. “Now I like to do my hair in a way that it doesn’t feel like it’s too done. Like maybe it just naturally falls in a messy way.”

For the most part, Pope likes to let her hair tell its own story day to day.

Bailey pope nyfw
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Coming Out at Work

Pope notes that her experience coming out while working in the hair industry was incredible. “I remember a couple of months before I came out, I told my Creative Director at TIGI, Thomas Osbourne, that I was kind of concerned about how we would address it with some of our professional partners. And he said, ‘If you can’t do this here, where can you do this?’ And it really just put me at ease.

“I remember the first show I did after coming out was a two-day class in Toronto. When they called me on stage and introduced me, they used female pronouns and my name. It was just such a relief to finally be able to bring all of me to the stage.”

Every journey is so different, but I can say when you’re 100% able to be yourself, you can do everything else in your life better.

Styling Routine After Coming Out

Pope names her longtime go-to products as Bed Head by TIGI Superstar Queen for a Day Thickening Spray and Bed Head by TIGI After Party Smoothing Cream. She uses the thickening spray in the place of a mousse and to lend texture and thickness to her style. As for the smoothing cream, Pope uses it to add definition. Its lightweight consistency means she doesn’t have to worry about it weighing her hair down.

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Allyship and Advice

When asked what advice she would give to someone who was newly transitioning or thinking about coming out, Pope stresses the importance of taking care of yourself. “Every journey is so different,” she notes. “But I can say when you’re 100% able to be yourself, you can do everything else in your life better.”

And when it comes to supporting the trans community, Pope believes it’s vital to stay open to listening and learning. While language may not seem like a big deal to a lot of people, it’s a huge way to validate and really see people in the Trans community.

When someone corrects you on their pronouns, instead of getting offended, Pope suggests using it as a time to learn and grow. Even further, be there for that person if other people aren’t so willing to grow.

“Advocating for us means the world,” Pope says.

And while Pope has found acceptance along her journey, we know this isn’t the case for everyone. As allies for trans people, we should always be there to support everyone, as Pope’s final words echo “Advocating means the world.” – We want to thank Pope for sharing her story with us and thank you for reading. Hair Unstereotyped aims to shine a light on the lives and journeys of those who don’t always have their voices heard, so check back to hear more from some incredible people.

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