Head shaving trend and what it means for ideals of femininity

Women with buzz cuts show how radical steps toward confidence pay off.

Ashley Brimmage, Opinions Editor

Bringing in this new year, one of my friends held a head shaving party at her house. We played a board game, and the winner of each round got to cut off a piece of her then shoulder-length hair. At the end of the game, she shaved it all off. I expected an emotional experience—tears brought to her eyes because of the freedom she experienced, a newfound rush of courage, a sock-it-to-the-man philosophy. In reality, it seemed to still be her… just without the hair.

“YOU’RE SO BRAVE”

On Youtube, over 402,000 videos come up when searching “girls shave their heads,” with taglines of “SHAVING MY HEAD” and “3 Girls Getting their Headshaved For Donation.”

Some give their hair to charity, some raise money for an organization or research group and others simply do it because they itch for change and desire to make a statement. Women like Natalie PortmanZoe Kravitz and Katy Perry have all buzzed their heads, with magazines calling them “brave,” “bold” and “courageous.”

Why do women get congratulated for having short hair? Our society is constructed by ideals of freedom and self-expression and individuality. Yet, when a woman takes the choice of hair length into her own hands, people are shocked and feel the need to compensate for their uncomfortability with a “you’re so brave,” comparing them to a doe in order to render them still slightly feminine in their minds. We do not pat men on the back for having long hair, yet people see women shaving their heads as an act of courage. It seems these responses, though well intending, call for a reevaluation of the definition of masculinity, and what they view as feminine. Do eyelashes make a girl? Does lipstick, do curls?

Of all the women recorded and interviewed, there has been a general consensus: shaving their head, whether an emotional experience for them or not, weeds out the fake friends and family members from their lives. In the dating scene, women have found their shaved heads weed out men with fragile senses of masculinity and those with strict notions of ‘proper’ gender roles within relationships. For my friend who shaved her head, there was a reaction on social media, especially by people of her parents’ generation of,‘Your poor parents’ and, ‘I can’t tell from the video if your parents are supportive or horrified by your decision.’ Ironically, her mom has a pixie cut. How does the change of an electric razor setting from a seven to a one define someone as more or less female?

SHAVE SHATTERS IDEALS

The shattering of our culture’s ideals of femininity and standards of beauty happen when a girl takes a deep breath and gets rid of all of her hair. Youtuber Sorelle Amor states:

“Most likely, the only thing stopping you [from shaving your hair off] is fear. Fear of judgement, fear of what you’re going to look like. Fear is going to stop you from doing the best things in your life. So I say, if the urge is there you do it.”

She goes on to say that the separation she felt from the world disappeared when there was no longer any hair to hide behind. Her face is there, out in the open and is forced to be confident. This idea is startling and discomforting. Yet I believe the step forward in confidence has proven to make a difference in the lives of the beautiful, bald women. Hair is not beauty, and long hair is not female.

If you want long hair, keep it. If you want to know what a shower on a bald head feels like, shave that head. You are not more or less feminine because of either choice.

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