“Ugly is a field without grass, a plant without leaves, or a head without hair.” Ovid “The Silent Woman”
The meaning of being bald as a woman:
“What does it mean to be bald as a woman?” One possible sentiment might be “Oh, she is beautiful!” and as exampled in the following quote, typically this comment is reserved for the woman who lost her crown to the fight against cancer:
“A bald woman on chemo is beautiful.”
Yes, being bald as a woman often represent sickness, or maybe just getting old–er. Then there are those of you who are more forward thinkers and can rattle off the names of beautiful iconic bald-headed women in the entertainment industry who are not cancer survivors such as Amber Rose, Megan Fox, and Erykah Badu. Many of whom a shaved head is a matter of style or stance and choice – for a moment. However, these women are accepted as tokens, because “…sometimes bald women are a pleasant surprise. And often, better than that!” (www.esquire.com).
What???? Why do we always look to the entertainment industry to define acceptable attributes of beauty and hotness? “A pleasant surprise…”???? But yes, this is our reality and I am not surprised that in general, for female baldness and beauty to reside in the same sentence, it would be an anomaly! Hence the “truth” (all relative) in the sentiment of the opening quote from Ovid. In a search for the definition of “baldness” you will never find a qualitative noun. What you will find is an adjective, which sadly enough is apropos, because gosh dang it, that is how bald women are perceived– “having little or no hair on the scalp”, destitute of some natural growth or covering”, lacking detail, bare, plain, unadorned”, “open; undisguised”. Never – beautiful! All images of beautiful women will not include a bald head. I dare you to do a search online right now. Just simply put in “beautiful women” in the search box. In the meantime, check this quote:
“I think if I see a woman bald, my heart usually goes out to them as it is more than likely a medical or health condition. Being a woman I think that most women would be quick to don a wig because it is said that our hair is our crowning glory. But as stated on men the hair or lack of hair has nothing to do with the person’ it is what’s inside the hearts and minds that makes a person.”
All I will say is “wow…really???”
The cost of Baldness:
The reality is, hair loss and baldness does not discriminate age, race, or gender, and can be extremely stressful for both men and women. There are as many wigged, weaved, and hair clipped women, as there are the hair club and toupeed men desperate to cover balding spots and thinning receding hairlines. Although there are about 40 million balding men in the US, a good 10% of this number will pursue their fleeing follicles, spending more than $1 billion each year on hair care products, pills, hair pieces, systems, and transplant procedures to cover up, get some “detail”, and to adorn and disguise that plain exposed patch of bare scalp. Baldness messes with the “qi” and we (men and women) want to do something about it! NOW!
The Goose and the Gander:
Forty percent of women will experience some visible hair loss by the time she gets to 40 years old. Yet baldness is much more readily acceptable in men than women. How many women fear retribution from the love in their life if she was to just cut her hair short? Be truthful now, men love hair! Look at this quote from a woman who believes in the power of her hair as a sex symbol:
“Hair is a real sex symbol. Ladies covet great hair and men strive for it. I once shaved my head in order to get my husband to go away. We fought and I do not like to fight. So to end it…I shaved my head. He had once told me if I cut my hair, he was gone.”
Alrighty then! Yet a bald man is often seen as sexy, attractive, and intelligent, and for many women, “it’s not an issue or deal breaker”. Not so much for a bald woman. One woman stated most profoundly:
“Some bald men are turn ons for me…as for bald women, I’m thankful I’m not one of them…”
Historically, woman experiencing hair loss and baldness continue to experience very negative attitudes (from others) as a result of her appearance. Any state of ill-contained baldness is often a death sentence and negative comments, inexorably linked to poor self-esteem (her own), perceptions of looking older, which will result in greater dissatisfaction of her appearance and feelings of unattractiveness to others. One woman responded:
“I believe we can more readily accept a bald male than female. When I see a bald female, I immediately think of illness…It is stigmatic to see a bald female because we are so vain we always want to have a nice coiffure…”
Being bald as a woman fuels loss of self-confidence, depression, and even embarrassment in certain circles. Imagine being bald and having to be in front of a camera daily as a part of your job. Would you still feel unattractive if you were draped in a Vera Wang gown, Christian Louboutin shoes, fire diamond jewelry, and a clean bald-head on your way to a special event? Most women would not. On the flip side, I know that weaving in bright blue hair, orange, or several shocks of platinum blond hair would catapult me into a state of depression, suppress my self-confidence, and stroke my perceptions of looking like a clown. Oh, you disagree?? My point exactly, different strokes for different folks and beauty is (often) in the eye of the beholder. As long as you express your zany side – with hair- it’s all right. Just don’t shave your head ladies!
Causes of Hair Loss
On a serious note, my argument is more for those women who did not choose to be bald or balding. Hair loss may be due to medical conditions. Hormonal imbalances such as thyroid disorders, autoimmune disorders can result in alopecia areata, scalp infections, skin disorders arising from lupus, side effects of medications for heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, arthritis and cancer. Given the health statistics and chronic disease prevalence, this could be you – soon. In other instances, mistreatment of the hair and scalp through hair pulling disorder, certain hairstyles and hair treatments, physical or emotional shock, nutrition, eating disorders and family history, and this too could you. The message is, being bald is not limited to cancer survival – or just getting old-er. It can be out of your control.
The cost of Having Hair:
I agree that hair is significant in expressing our individuality and attractiveness. We can make it purple, shaved completely on one side, and locked up like a lion’s mane. Ads about shampoos, hair color and heating irons make that clear. In fact, did you know that women spend half a trillion dollars on hair care, weaves, and wigs each year? Many women will most likely agree that hair like money – more is better.
Thankfully, being bald is not a death sentence. Whatever the reason is for your being bald, I encourage you to be a pleasant surprise. And even more often, better than that! Walk tall, pull your shoulders back and lift your head up. Demonstrate that to be “different” is not to be deficient. Be that “shocker”, that memorable North Star in a room full of coiffed women. There is nothing more graceful, elegant, attractive and beautiful than confidence. Be the indelible statement that challenges onlookers to redefine beautiful as a noun, a combination of qualities that pleases the aesthetic senses of sight, intellect, and moral sense. In the meantime, take heart in the truth that “God made only so many perfect heads; the rest he covered with hair!”
Live well, laugh much, love twice as hard, and be grateful.See some words or phrases that you don't understand? Check out The Dragon's Lexicon.