Health & Lifestyle

An Open Letter to My Friend Who Recently Decided to Shave Her Head.

By Anna Liss-Roy

I’ve been an ardent supporter of your decision to shave your head (I voted “hell yes boi” on every Instagram poll) and I’ve been thinking a lot about what this means.

I’ve been proudly preaching about your choice, characterizing it as a rejection of societal expectations that deem the female body acceptable only when presented in a way that is considered sexually desirable to the average heterosexual male consumer. Hair is a huge part of these demands; long hair on women is often considered sexy, while short hair is considered badass or risky or, god forbid, unfuckable. Women of color are socialized to view their natural hair as unprofessional and the industry profits off of their widespread purchases of relaxers and other hair products. But society is not allowed to define beauty for us, let alone in a way that revolves around white male preferences. (My appearance doesn’t turn you on? Thank god.)

On one hand, I’ve formed this empowering feminist analysis. And it sounds good, it feels good, but that’s the activist in me, the writer in me, the romantic in me, the part of me that rejects a biblical god but craves an explanation for the way each daily interaction unfolds.

A few weekends ago, I marched for gun control and I saw a lot of signs referencing the fact that female genitals are more regulated than guns. And yeah, the government regulates the hell out of female genitals. But what about society’s regulation of the female appearance itself?

Along with certain physical expectations of womanhood comes the demand that those who don’t conform must explain themselves. Is it daddy issues? Are you a lesbian?

I reject society’s demand that women must provide an explanation for their appearance if it‘s not mainstream. Why must your bald head be attributed to some political statement or rebellious phase? Why do I feel the need to assign it an explanation? Why can’t you just be a person with a bald head?

So I stand here before you excited and empowered on your behalf– but I stand in recognition of my own instinct to explain and attribute and interpret this decision, when it’s a choice that belongs to you. And maybe it is a screw you to the patriarchy, to the beauty standards that oppress all women whether or not they conform to them, and perhaps it is a rebellious phase (because we all know you’re a baddie.) But if you just want to be bald, then that’s reason enough. I accept you however you look because it is, unquestionably, your body and therefore your choice.

Image Credit to TeePublic

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