Boldly Bald

Bein’ a bald girl ain’t easy, folks.

Okay, let’s backtrack a little bit. I’ve been a bald lady since December ‘15, and I don’t plan on going back to the land of hairy noggins anytime soon.

In many respects, having a shaved head is, in fact, easy. There’s the whole wash-n’-go part of it: all I need to do is fluff my soft, shaved hair under the water in the shower, and I’m good to go for the day. Between myself and my partner, who also sports a short ‘do, we save a lot of money on hair products. I rarely have a bad hair day, unless I’ve gone too long without shearing my locks. Hats and headbands are always an easy, failsafe fix. At this point, being bald has become so tied to my “look” that I can’t imagine having my hair any other way.

But the practicality of being bald ignores the very harsh reality: it’s an unfriendly world out there for bald babes. This heralds back to the age-old adage that a woman’s pride and beauty lay in her hair. Lovely, long locks a la Rapunzel are a quintessential sign of feminine beauty.

We’re socialized to see long hair as a “feminine” trait, whereas short ‘dos, particularly super cropped cuts, register in our minds as “masculine.” This model falls short for many reasons: for one thing, it ignores the fact that gender exists on a continuum and not on a rigid binary. For another, it is completely antiquated in an age where short hair on women has been more and more normalized.

There’s a difference, though, between a pixie cut and a buzzcut. Even people who claim to love short hair on ladies balk at my fresh fades. I’ve approached job interviews and situations involving superiors with trepidation, ever afraid that my freshly-shorn buzzcut would prevent a person in power from hiring me or considering me “professional.” I’ve gritted my teeth as family members commented on how much prettier I looked with a curly pixie cut. I’ve watched parents squeeze their toddler’s hand as I approach them in a convenience store, only to breathe a sigh of relief when I hand them the toy their toddler dropped a moment earlier.

For me, being a bald woman is as much an issue of ease and practicality as it is a radical political statement. Being bald is part of my expression as a queer woman and a feminist; it’s a direct refusal to cater to heteronormative, patriarchal beauty standards. It’s an acknowledgment that yes, I may shock or repel people–and yes, I’m okay with that. It’s part of a style I’ve spent time and energy cultivating, which includes the clothing, jewelry and body modifications I wear so proudly. It’s a nod to the feminists, punks, and general rabble rousers who have come before me and paved the path for me to safely express myself in public spaces.

It’s who I am, and I’m not afraid to show it.