Lena Dunham took to Instagram recently to share her experience with health issues and shaving off her hair.
She shared a selfie showing off her hair accompanied by a caption explaining why she chose to shave her hair back in 2017.
The actress explained, “2 and a half years ago, I shaved my head. Not in a fun sassy way but in a ‘my hair is falling out from my autoimmune disease, better rush to the nearest barber shop and pay them 7 bucks to do this’ way.”
She went on to tell her followers, “Let me just say, bald is...beautiful, and it’s a full myth that ladies are meant to have long, luscious hair”.
Like Dunham, I also chose to shave my hair in 2017. However I had the privilege of being able to decide that I wanted to rather than having health issues that forced my hand in the matter.
I wanted to shave my hair for a long time before I actually did it. Having just graduated high school and preparing to make the transition into a new stage of life, 2017 seemed like the perfect time to do it.
There were a lot of factors that went into my decision. The standards of beauty that women are raised with tell us that our hair is almost sacred. Long, thick, shiny hair is worshipped as a feminine ideal. And we learn that anything different supposedly strips us of our femininity.
I thought that shaving my head would help me to ditch those expectations and give me the opportunity to define femininity for myself. But it didn’t quite work that way. I found myself leaning into the idea that I had lost an essential part of my womanhood when I lost my hair. My bald head screamed with masculine energy so I compensated in other ways. I embraced other traditionally feminine things; skirts, dresses, makeup, jewellery and high heels became my best friends.
I found myself leaning into the idea that I had lost an essential part of my womanhood when I lost my hair.
But none of those things felt like me. Before long I gave up the pretence of trying to be someone that I wasn’t in order to prove that I was still a woman despite my bald head.
Some of my favourite photos of myself in the months after I shaved my hair are of me in baggy jumpers and jeans, makeup-free with spiky re-growth that couldn’t be tamed.
Before long I gave up the pretence of trying to be someone that I wasn’t in order to prove that I was still a woman despite my bald head.
Over time, my hair, as expected, has grown back. People are now very surprised when I mention my brief foray into baldness and pull out the pictures to prove it. But what that has taught me is that in the end I learnt that nothing about how I look makes me more or less of a woman.
For Dunham, the regrowth of her hair has represented something different. She told her followers, “My hair growing has been a metaphor these last few years - all I did was leave it alone and something I had lost all of came back to be.”
Dunham’s journey with shaving her head is very not the same as mine. But both are proof that our bodies belong to us and there is power in that. So like Lena said, “I’ll carry that knowledge forward and then, you know what?” I’ll probably shave my head again.”
Zoe Victoria is a freelance writer. You can follow her on Twitter @Zoe__V