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Commercial Drive salon sign butts up against complaints

Wording on sign accused of being "child exploitation"
Wax Hair Removal Bar owner Jaden Stevenson has received complaints over her sign. Photo: Dan Toulgoet

A Commercial Drive salon owner is keeping a controversial sandwich board, which mentions a process known as “anal bleaching,” outside her business despite accusations of child exploitation and discrimination.

Jaden Stevenson, the 19-year-old owner of the Wax Hair Removal Bar located inside High Fidelity Salon, opened the business on Feb. 1 and has received complaints from a few neighbourhood women ever since.

“We got a call from the Commercial Drive BIA warning us that a couple people weren’t too happy about the sign,” said Stevenson.

After a woman sent a letter to Luba Sasowski, founder of Wax Bar which has locations in Kitsilano and Las Vegas, stating that she was part of Britannia elementary school’s parent advisory council and voiced concerns over the words “anal bleaching,” the salon taped over the words on the sign until it could talk with the council.

“Luba sat down with the PAC board to talk about their concern and they told her that Tanya wasn’t part of their group and they didn’t have a problem with it,” Stevenson said.

According to Stevenson, letter writer Tanya Van, who refused to comment to the Courier, has sent friends to the business to harass staff and attempted to generate support from others.

“We sent her a cease and desist letter because she was going around the Drive to different businesses and using the term child exploitation, which is something we obviously don’t want to be associated with our business,” said Stevenson.

In her letter to Sasowski, Van wrote: “We feel that this phrase anal bleaching on the sandwich board on the way to school to be potentially grooming our young students that walk by it every weekday for child exploitation.”

Stevenson said the salon understands Van’s points. “We didn’t agree with them. We have very different opinions,” she said.

She added once Wax Bar realized Van wasn’t part of PAC, they removed the tape from the sign.

Marlo Moore, owner of High Fidelity Salon, said Van has called the shop on multiple occasions and has harassed her. Moore eventually gave the woman her cellphone number to ensure employees wouldn’t be bothered, although other women have showed up in person to voice their opinions.

“Friends of hers have come in, yelling in front of clients and everything,” Moore said.

Moore has had two cancellations of hair appointments.

Stevenson said that despite the campaign, most people in the area support the salon and she is trying to spin this experience into something more positive. She is starting a fundraiser with Colon Cancer Canada by donating a percentage of the money from anal bleaching services to colon cancer research.

“My friend’s father just got diagnosed with colon cancer, so that made me decide to do it,” she said.

Stevenson also said that while the term anal bleaching might be offensive to some, she was reluctant to change the wording of her sign because she didn’t want to mislead customers about the service that was offered. While bleaching of the skin can be done on other body parts, including nipples, genitals, underarms and birth marks, that work is not done at their salon. If customers wish to bleach other areas, they can purchase an at-home kit.

She said the service is provided only to customers aged 18 or older, which is the same policy used for Brazilian waxes, a service that was also controversial when it gained popularity.