There are a lot of downsides to being a woman with a buzz cut. People stare, an uncomfortable amount of straight men tell you how much “hotter” you looked with long hair and of course you’re often automatically written off as a punk or attention addict. Not to mention the amount of people who decide that since you’re a bald gal, they have the right to rub your head (I’m not kidding–complete strangers actually rub my head without asking. I mean, seriously?). Many think there must be some profound reason to explain why a young woman would ever decide to do such an ugly thing to themselves (depression? eating disorder? bad breakup?).
But there’s so much more to it than “she must be going crazy.” Hair is a vital part of a woman’s identity, more so than men, or so we’re taught that it is. Long, beautiful hair is a symbol of femininity. Check out the Disney Princesses–out of all of them, only Rapunzel ends up with short hair, after a whole damn movie focused entirely on her hair. While men with long hair are only somewhat out of the ordinary, women with extremely short hair are very rare to see. It’s shocking, it’s weird, it’s intriguing.
Of course, when I buzzed my hair, I wasn’t thinking about any of this. I really just wanted to prove to myself that I could do something simple yet terrifying. So, after a night out, I announced to my roommates that I was “doing it.” It was 3 a.m. One of my roommates’ friends pulled a chair into our small apartment’s hallway and buzzed my hair off while I sat, sobbing. But, reminiscent of Double Rainbow Guy, I was smiling too.
I felt liberated and empowered. I felt fierce and strong. But I also felt extremely and undeniably feminine and vulnerable.
We see some examples of bald women in pop culture. Evey in V for Vendetta has her head shaved to strip her of an identity. Jack from Mass Effect 2 rocks the chrome dome to symbolize her badass and punkish persona, similar to Demi Moore’s character in G.I. Jane.
Shaving my head wasn’t to prove my badassery. I’m not a punk. I’m not a rebel. I can be girly. I like wearing dresses, I have a passion for makeup, I would wear heels if my feet permitted them.
Hair isn’t everything–neither are other things that we’re conditioned to believe are cornerstones of our femininity, or masculinity, or race, or what have you. I stopped counting the number of women who have come up to me and told me that they’ve always wanted to shave their head, but (a) are too scared to do it, (b) think they couldn’t pull it off, or (c) think men would suddenly find them hideous. I laugh at all three of those ideas now.
Society thinks women should have long hair. I don’t. I love my lack of hair. Confidence replaced the mass that suffocated my scalp.
And men, despite the “you looked hotter with X haircut” comments, will still think you’re hot. Not that you need to worry about that anyway.