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.

#metoo but what happens after media spotlight fades?

Hecate/ The Night of Enitharmon’s Joy, William Blake (1757-1827)

#metoo A/K/A The Harvey Movement. Started by actor Alyssa Milano.

USA Today reported today in addition the following: 

Gretchen Carlson has been credited with cracking the secretive world of workplace sexual harassment thanks to her landmark case against Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. 

But she’s convinced the scathing allegations of assault and harassment leveled against Harvey Weinstein published by The New York Times and The New Yorker, and the tidal wave of women coming forward with similar stories in the last week and a half, is the real turning point.

“What we’re seeing happening now with the Harvey Weinstein revelations, to me this is the watershed moment,” she told USA TODAY. “This is the tipping point I’ve been working so hard for over the last 15 months. People are finally saying ‘enough.'”

A reporter friend of mine today asked the following as she was researching her story:

Does the #metoo make you feel more empowered? Do you think this is a here today/ gone tomorrow story?

Sexual Harassment is not new – does the fact it’s a Hollywood producer and accusers are stars give the issue more clarity- more weight that now is the time for discussion? 

Sigh.  Sexual harassment and sexual assault are not new. Just #metoo is new. It is still so hard for victims of either sexual harassment or sexual assault to report either.  No matter what victims seem to get victimized again in the process. And that is total sad reality, isn’t it?

Also to consider are the women who cry wolf in these situations for whatever twisted motivation they might have.  Yes, seriously, and I know of more than one instance over my lifetime.  And for every person who cries wolf, that makes it all the harder for women who have been victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

So according to the media this #metoo has been a crazy trigger for women to talk about this. It’s truly all over social media, pick your platform.

Vanity Fair: These Are the Women Who Have Accused Harvey Weinstein of Sexual Harassment and Assault. October 12, 2017 by Yohana Desta and Hillary Busis

Washington Post #MeToo: Harvey Weinstein case moves thousands to tell their own stories of abuse, break silence by Samantha Schmidt

PBS News Hour: Thousands share stories of sexual abuse with #MeToo after Weinstein allegations

What did I post on my own timeline?

It’s the truth.  When I think of sexual assault and sexual harassment, I think of it in terms of which women do I know who hasn’t experienced some form of either. And we, the everyday women in this country, will still be here long after the bright lights of Hollywood have moved onto the next cause célèbre.

And let us not forget what President Trump and Betsy De Vos have cooked up for Title IX, shall we? Good little foot soldiers of the current “republic” I am sure are claiming “fake news” but is US New and World Report really “fake news”?

Here is what the US News and World Report said:

Title IX was originally enacted in 1972 to prevent discrimination in schools based on sex, but has since expanded to cover issues relating to sexual assault. No longer for just equality, it requires educational institutions that receive federal funding to have a procedure in place for handling complaints of sexual harassment, discrimination, and violence.

The law was reshaped during the Obama administration in an effort to improve how colleges handle sexual assaults, but DeVos told The Associated Press the system “is not working right and well for anyone.”

So when I posted  #MeToo did I mean me too?

Yes.

For me, it was literally decades ago.  No one at this point needs the gory details.  It accomplishes nothing.  It happened and that was bad enough.

For years I denied to myself what happened and alternately blamed myself for what happened.

As I grew up from this thing I experienced, I came in contact with other women who themselves had been victims of either sexual harassment or sexual assault and in many cases were then victimized by the system.   I also knew of women who cried wolf and almost tanked the lives of men who had not been sexual predators.

I did not talk about it, I did not tell anyone when it actually happened.

Eventually because a light bulb went off in my head, I did deal with it.  I finally accepted what happened was not my fault, and quite honestly I worked through it with a therapist.  I knew if I did not I would become as screwed up as many women I had encountered who never did anything about it even just for their sanity.

But sociologically speaking, it’s still kind of a dirty little secret isn’t it?  This is a topic that makes people uncomfortable, yet it happened every single day.  We are now as women told to speak up, but if you are just a regular person what happens? Do people magically descend from the ceiling with flaming swords to defend your honor?

Hardly.

It’s hard enough to go to anyone and talk about this, but still today, doesn’t it seem nearly impossible to get action taken? We’ve all read the horror stories of when rape victims take things to court. And with sexual harassment in the workplace as a woman you get to lose lots and lots of sleep over taking action, or sucking it up and moving on so you don’t taint your career with reporting something, don’t you?

Why are the victims victimized twice?

There are women I know who will never, ever get over what happened to them.  And that is even with people supporting them and encouraging them to at least get therapy. And it has screwed with their lives incredibly.

Yes, we need to stand up and say #MeToo but we need to persist so the every day non-Hollywood girls and women are helped. We need to remember the ordinary women who stand in the shadows waiting for help.  The women who get so lost inside their own heads on this that it affects their lives, their children’s lives, truly the lives of everyone who cares about them.

Sexual assault and sexual harassment are as old as time.  We all need to do better.

Thanks for stopping by.