Hair Today Gone Tommorow…The Boldness of Baldness


Chrisette Michelle '"For Freedom, Not Beauty"

I did not exactly shave all my hair off  last year, but I came really close.  I was going through a period of transition and I hastily decided everything needed to be simplified.   So I rushed to the barbershop and asked the wonderful barber, who remains my guy ’till this very day, to just shave it all off.   He is so cute; I think I keep it low just to see him sometimes, but I digress.   Cutting my hair  was a harrowing experience, but very freeing.  I looked at my little boy bald head and thought wow,  no hair.  Sitting in the barber chair, staring at my now huge eyes and prominent nose, I began to questioned myself:  is this the same me?   Can I be pretty without hair?  Will men find me attractive?  The latter concern was of course reinforced after  my dad protested my decision, saying ” Why would you do that?…Men don’t like  women without hair”.

I’ll have him know that much to the contrary, I’ve found many do.

When I shaved my hair, I was not making a political statement or seeking to adopt any trend; it was more about a personal journey.  Taking off your hair, as a woman is like removing a security blanket.  Society is so hair obsessed that opting out can be viewed as revolutionary, even if one’s motivations are purely economical.

While I was not out to subscribe to a particular counterculture beauty aesthetic, I got to tell you not having hair is truly liberating.  There is real freedom in not having to go the hair salon and sit under the dryer  for hours, or fuel the cream crack economy.   Yet, I am now facing a real conundrum: to grow back or not to grow back that is the question.   My confidence journey is well-played out now having been hairless for close to a year and I want options, but at the same time options can be costly in time and treasure.  Plus I love the way a new shave feels on my scalp. However, I tired of men rubbing my head at public events.  I am short and I think they feel warranted to do so.  Yet I am stating unequivocally that it is not endearing, but instead, very jarring; so please stop it!

Chrisette Michelle, who recently decided to go low, has a wonderful poem entitled “For Freedom Not Beauty” on her website .  The poem is about her choice to shorn her locks.  In the poem, she asked the question, “Since when is creativity subject to criticism?”  In response to Michelle, I would argue since the invention of “the critic”. However, I too  was floored when Solange Knowles was berated in the and blogosphere last year for her choice to shave off  all her hair.

I found it odd folks were not happy with her “personal” choice.  Magazines accused her of doing a “Britney” and blogs were even more cruel.  Perhaps the criticism was because the original cut was such a hack job,or because she was seen in a wig at a public shortly after the bold move was made, or simply because there is just a lot of Solange resistance out there (methinks misdirected anti-beyonce sentiment?) .  In response Knowles stated:

“I guess you just go through different phases in your life. I was pretty much at the point where I needed the change and I needed to focus my energy on more productive arenas. I was putting too much into my appearance and I needed to make this about growth and going to the next stage of my life. I felt like I was being distracted by something as simple as hair.”

Here, here Solange.  Ironically, Solange’s sister, Beyonce is responsible for a lot of what is going on with hair culture now in my opinion.  As pop-stars and celebutantes like the Kardashians, Ciara, and Ms. B get these larger than life weaves, it sets unrealistic beauty standards in the real-world.  Women are getting all kinds of lace fronts, wigs, weaves, extensions to replicate this idealized hair aesthetic and even it isn’t real.  It is certainly not a realistic beauty standard for a lot of Black women, who are so often told to embrace and emulate western standards of attractiveness, if they want to be accepted.

Last year, I saw Chris Rock’s “Good Hair” shortly after getting my haircut off and it made me feel even more empowered.  Watching the film, I learned hair is a big business and it is a business whose revenues are seen largely outside of the Black community. I try to support “Carol’s Daughter” and other black vendors with that thought in mind.  However, I need hair to buy black hair products — it is a predicament indeed.  So what should I do?  While I make my decision, its comforting knowing I have at least one fan.   On the blog Beautiful Black Woman – Thoughts of a White B’woy, a site dedicated to uplifting and honoring the beauty of Black women around the world, blogger Andreas post:

Fact: The only women that looks good in shaved/bald hair/head are the black women. This fact is strictly subjective and reflect only my view. But hey, black bald women can be really fine! 🙂

Hair today or gone tomorrow? I need your help.

Thoughs.

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4 Comments

  1. Girl! FIrst of all, you do your thing on the writing. I didn’t realize that you 1…blogged…or 2…had shaved your head! The D Stroman I knew 10 years ago would have passed out in the floor and died before she shaved her head…I think! It looks wonderful on you and I’m sure it IS liberating. I haven’t shaved mine…but if my mother had lived a little longer with Cancer..there’s a good chance I would have. I have been natural for over a year now…and I love my hair..kinks and all. I wash it…pick it out in all of it’s glory…and twist it up. And I walk around like..Hell yes, this is how I want it to look! 🙂 I applaud any woman, any Black Woman, who says “Enough is enough” and stands up for what SHE wants to do, whether that’s shaving her head, wearing a big A** fro, or frying her scalp monthly on the creamy crack. Do you boo…just do it well.

    • Lady Wynn, thanks for the compliment and the comment. I went natural maybe five years ago (I know after all that bumper curlin, fyrin, and blow dryin in our bedroom). It was hard to maintain in Portsmouth, without getting it loc’ed, so ended up getting a perm. I had a head full of thick beautiful hair and I once again ruined it with relaxer. Then after certain life events occured; I just decided hey do not have time or money for hair, so I shaved it off. I find it funny that most of my girlfriends are full proponents of my choice; and my male friends are not as quick to endorse it.

      On another note, I met to say that you really should be blogging on you and baby girl. I would so read your adventures. You are a great writer and you have the purpose subject lol 🙂

  2. Thank you for this post. I think it is true freedom to wear your hair anyway you want and not to be concerned with what anyone has to say about it. I would think men would be attracted to that confidence. Sorry about them awkwardly touching your head tho.

    I found it so interesting that Solange shaved her head. I didn’t know. That is the polar opposite of what Beyonce is doing. I wonder if it was at all a response to Beyonce.

    Issues of hair have so much power with the sisters. Unfortunately, the weave thing is getting out of control and too often it is unflattering. It’s sad that we still feel that we have to feed into a white ideal of beauty. Deep in our subconsciouness as a people those ugly messages ae still there.

    • Thank you for the comment. I agree with your premise that the beauty standards we carry are deep within our cultural subconscious. I also feel the media is responsible for perpetuating these dominant narratives of what beautiful is, as much as many will argue that long hair is a “natural” preference because it indicates a woman’s health.

      You are also right that it is really a confidence game. People will automatically assume you are super confident when you choose to wear your hair low. I am constantly told that I must be confident and people’s reactions are just very different that when I wore my hair relaxed or with weave.

      I’m still undecided on my next move, but I do appreciate your insight!

      DeJuan


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