what defines redefining beauty?

I took this photo of my friend Melinda in 2013 after she had finished chemotherapy and her hair was just coming back. She looked brave and beautiful because well, she is. She survived breast cancer and chemotherapy. She didn’t shave her head on a whim.

Social media is buzzing about a woman (not the woman above, she is a breast cancer survivor) who shaved her head. This other woman is not ill and undergoing chemotherapy.  She does not have alopecia like a woman I went to college with.  She did not shave her head to donate her hair for locks of love.  She did it “just because.”

No, I am not posting this other random woman’s photo. Yes a lot of them are public, but they aren’t my photos.

Essentially she did it for the attention is my humble opinion.  I don’t buy that she did it to empower herself  à la G.I, Jane.  We’re not talking a cute buzz cut, we’re talking shaved her head and then had a salon fix it.  I guess that makes sense because the first time I clipped a dog years and years ago they looked like they were groomed by moths (as in what woolens look like when clothing moths chew them up.) Dog grooming clippers and human grooming clippers are essentially the same and they take some getting used to.

I am a breast cancer survivor. I was lucky and had radiation only, although I did have some hair loss as well as thinning and a hair texture change. However, I had to come to terms with the fact I might lose my hair before I had my surgery in 2011, and also had to come to terms with if what they found when they went in was more than they thought or worse than they thought, I might also lose one breast.

I stood in front of the mirror imagining what both might look like.  For weeks. It is how I came to terms with what might happen. It wasn’t empowering, it was daunting. It was scary. It made me cry. Breast cancer does a number on your whole self body image. You come face to face with your own potential mortality. It’s hard.

I decided that if chemotherapy came to pass, I would do bald without wigs until my hair grew back. But again, I was not deciding this because I wanted to be part of a female buzz cut trend. I was not deciding this for attention, or a whim. I was deciding this because I needed a plan if I had to go there.

I have another really dear friend who has sported a gamine look for years.  Not a buzz cut. But it suits her. And she has been this way for years. Her cuts are feminine and have style. They aren’t abrupt.

I have a friend who lives with metastatic or stage four breast cancer. When she has to do chemo, she loses her hair.  I have never imagined that is fun for her. I do a happy dance when her hair grows back in because that means remission to me.

This other woman on social media  (and I am entitled to my opinion) looks scary now.  It seems like intensity and defiance emanate from her and the new photos.  But she doesn’t look happy. I find that sad (also an opinion I am entitled to.)

Female buzz cuts have been a topic again (I think) since Rose McGowan emerged from the shadows with the whole Harvey Weinstein/#metoo thing. However, she has been sporting a buzz cut since 2015. Sinéad O’Connor also has sported a buzz cut forever.

It’s nothing new, but in 2018 it is topically trendy.  Not only the #metoo movement but because of the teenager in Florida who survived the recent Parkland shootings. Emma González decided before Parkland to get a buzz cut, not because of it.

I had a friend in college, a sorority sister, who had alopecia.  In other words, she was born with baldness issues.  I thought she was one of the bravest people I knew at the time.  Like I did with my friend Melinda years later.  Brave and beautiful.

But doing things like this and then seeing people that do it to make a statement and/or for attention? It just doesn’t sit right with me.

As women, we have to define what is beautiful for ourselves. I am sorry, but in this case it hits me wrong.  I hope this person finds peace and comfort in their decision. But they really can’t expect everyone to be the same about it.

To me bald female heads represent chemotherapy.  Right or wrong that is where it hits me. Those women represent strong and beautiful and brave to me. Somehow this other woman doing a head shave just for kicks seems disrespectful of women who have to do it because they have no other choice.  As a friend of mine says, to each their own. But that is how it made me feel.