I have shaved my head. Every loc has been relegated to a plastic bag that will be destroyed. All that is left is a coating of baby-fine hair on my scalp and some markings that are left behind to tell the tale of years of carrying around a head-full of mile-high hair.
Okay, I have a beautifully shaped head. This is not being arrogant; aside from it being true, I had absolutely nothing to do with it, so simply stating facts. And, those who have known me for more than five years will find nothing strange about this decision as being bald is how they have known me. Yes, for my entire career as a model and a party-girl, bald was how I presented. In fact, I can say that having hair was the stranger of the two looks.
So, this is not about my ‘new’ look; but rather it is about the continued fascination I have with people’s reaction to a woman with a bald head. I am fascinated at the white man’s obsession with (long) hair and the black man’s rejection of a female’s bald head (I hope you take note that even as you may be inclined to read both race’s reactions as the same, I purposely have separated the two). So let’s address this, shall we?
The White Man:
To be fair, I should state that it is not all white men. In fact, I could even go as far as saying this feeling is relegated to predominantly white American men (like in many other areas, the European man tends to be a bit more enlightened…). And to be even fairer, let me say not all white American men, either. Now that that bit of verbal housekeeping is out of the way, let me carry on with my tale. It seems as if indoctrinated into the white American male’s environment is the thinking that for a woman to be beautiful, she must have hair. And, the longer the better. In fact, the more a woman embodies the Farrah Fawcett stereotype, the better. It seems as if when taking inventory of a woman’s attributes, they literally start at the top of the head and work their way down. If a woman’s hair is not long and luxurious, there is no need to proceed further.
In watching television, we are further bombarded with the importance of hair as it relates to white America. Girls, from a very early age are taught the art of flicking it away from the faces and over their shoulders. Being coy or flirtatious involves the twisting of that one lock of silkiness around one beautifully manicured finger. Sex? Well, if you’ve ever watched porn (and you know your freaky ass has!), the grabbing of a fistful of hair while artfully putting it on her, doggie-style is a must! Similarly, not to be outdone, the white woman must have the tresses to seductively trail down her man’s chest and legs on her way to, well….
So, they need it.
The Black Man:
He prefers hair as well. But it is my experience that the reason is a whole other animal altogether. The black man is so intent on always establishing (his) dominance that the strength (yes… I said “strength”) that a woman with balls enough to shave off her hair possesses can tend to be intimidating. Then, there is the added component that most (supposed) heterosexual black males are so homophobic, that ignorance has them rejecting any intimacy that they liken to that of male-on-male. Let’s look at these two, shall we? Here we go…
In a male-dominated world, especially a, white, male-dominated world, for a woman to dare to remove the adornment that society has decided is not only where her beauty is housed, but is the thing that determines her femininity, is ballsy! Shit… can even be considered as reckless! To be confident enough to determine and insist that femininity and beauty emanate from somewhere deeper, more hidden is to actualize an awareness that (most) men find threatening. Especially our black men. It seems to imply I regard myself as strong as they (I do) and that I too am able to face this world without hiding. Bare-faced and bold-faced! I do. To the ignorant (black) male it can say I have rejected my femininity for a more masculine persona. Again I say, “to the ignorant… male”. Don’t know about yall, but as much as I respect my black men, I am yet to come across one that makes me wish I were of the same sex. Being a woman – and that includes the ability to express that in any way I choose – is one of the greatest achievements of my life!
Listen, I am not dumping on those of us women with a head full of beautiful tresses; I too love beautiful, healthy hair. I am not even mad at the men whose preference it is to run their fingers through it, or grab it to get their freak on… do you! For me however, more than society’s preferences or perceptions are the perceptions of us who either choose to or are forced to walk this earth unadorned and bold.
I am applauding every woman who is in a fight for her life due to illness and for whom the focus is not your narrow-minded views of her; but for whom every touch of the breeze, rain or snow drop or kiss of the sun on her bald head means she has survived one more day. That even as the medicines have stripped her of hair – here, there and everywhere – she is still here to tell it.
I am celebrating with every woman for whom time, experiences and age have motivated to remove all shackles they may have felt and for whom the endurance of the inner-woman outweighs the insecurities of the outer-woman. Women who recognize the brazenness of meeting this world head-on; pun intended. Women who have survived… poverty, abuse, degradation, racism, ageism, heartaches, abandonments and for whom the showing of strength is imperative to their continued survival.
I am cheering those who refuse to hide. Those women who need no props to flirt, be coy or to be sensual. Women who do with their eyes, lips and body what others for centuries have been taught to do with their hair. Women who walk strong, proud and sure in their woman-ness. Women who love without society’s constricting playbook. Women who reject the white man’s interpretation of beauty and prefer to celebrate their ancestral version. Women who refuse to indulge a black man’s insecurities of himself by levelling them unto her. Women who decline to limit or shrink themselves in order to elevate any man’s ego. I cheer on the women who understand that in being the authentic, raw, strong version of themselves they effectively weed out the attention of the weak.
For the women who rock the baldy just cause you bad-ass like that… girl, hair’s to you!