Portraits > Portrait - Photography

(PORTRAIT) shelleyskylarks

By shelleyskylarks

I shaved my head and donated over three feet of hair to the American Cancer Society and Locks of Love.


 


It would be really interesting to put together a photo essay of women with shaved heads or women who are defying gender roles in other ways. (I don't know how to word this eloquently... I don't believe gender roles should exist or that we should conform to them, I'm just acknowledging that they do exist and that people often do conform to them).


 


Going from waist-length hair to no hair at all was an eye-opening experience. I felt totally naked, exposed to the world. I realized how of much how we see ourselves is based on our appearance, and how easy it is to use hair, clothes, makeup, etc. as a security blanket that helps us hide from the world. This is true for both men and women. Our hair, our wardrobe, we view these as simply extensions of ourselves.


 


After I shaved my head, I was amazed at the responses I received from other people. Several of my classmates at university told me "I always pictured you as such a girly girl," despite the fact that I never wore makeup or anything other than jeans to class. They saw my long hair and, without taking any of my other qualities into account, categorized me as "feminine."


 


A lot of people asked me "why?" To them, I say, "why not?"


I was amazed at how many people were not supportive, but critical of my decision.


 


I actually got chastised for cutting off my hair:


"It was so beautiful!"


"Yes," I'd say, "and now it looks beautiful on someone else."


 


In the years since, I have heard similar reactions whenever I mention that I fully intend to do it again someday (I'm currently growing my hair out to meet the minimum length required for donations). I cannot tell you how many times I have had this conversation:


 


Me: "I loved having a shaved head and I will probably do it again someday" (or a variation: "Arrgh, my hair is getting too long and I'm looking forward to getting it cut"


Other person: "Nooooo. Don't! You should keep it long."


Me: "Umm... whose head is this, exactly? Yeah, I'm pretty sure it's mine. And when I have long hair, it's falling in MY eyes and getting tangled when I ride MY bike, and I would really hate to think that you're the kind of person who would like me less if my hair were shorter."


 


That usually worked well. 

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(PORTRAIT) shelleyskylarks

Created: Nov 25, 2012

Tags: bald, cancer, short hair, [portrait record], woman, portrait, profile, society, feminism, feminist, shaved head, gender role, outsider, identity

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