To my knowledge, I have never brought a stranger closer to tears than when I arrived at a Supercuts in Chicago and asked the first stylist I saw to shave my waist-length hair into something vaguely resembling a hedgehog.
“But why!” she gasped, mournfully stroking the thick mat of Old World hair. I shrugged, and she proceeded to whisper to the other stylists re: my abomination of a plan. This is not intended to aggrandize my hair as though it were an ancient relic lost to the ages, but a realistic depiction of what a 62-year-old Croatian woman with dyed black hair and chalky eyeliner would say if presented with such a situation. Though the stylists collectively laughed and shook their heads, I was a paying customer and therefore, an hour later, I left, head shorn (and admittedly a bit breezy in the November air).
I had wanted a shaved head for some time. It was an ever-inexplicable urge that drew both guffaws and faintly-impressed nods from those with whom I shared my plan. The strand running through it all was the notion I was somehow making a sacrifice; that I was laying down my femininity in exchange for something hard, invulnerable, and asexual. Perhaps I was challenging myself in some way, or participating in some secret ritual only my heart could explain? Nevermind the freedom from the constraints of hair (particularly: three-foot-long hair) and all of its connotations.
Now, in my quasi-baldness, I don’t claim to be an individual, and in fact I acknowledge my participation in a larger trend. Women/femme individuals are adopting this style at an increasing rate, and one need only to look around a busy intersection in New York City to gather such statistical evidence.
It’s possible, and maybe even likely, that the growing favorability of the femme-shaved-head is directly tied to the current feminist movement. As “women’s liberation” becomes increasingly commercial and commodified, the status quo of what is considered physically radical is pushed towards extremes. So much of the popular discourse surrounding women’s place in 2018 life revolves around appearance (has it ever not?), and the rejection of traditional forms of femininity. Can the shaved head, in some ways, be reduced parallel to the reduction of feminism? If feminism were to merely equal a woman’s place…