If you recall my piece last week on the brothel creeper -- which interestingly spawned an assortment of vehement agreement on the "too cool for school" defense -- we are moving ahead, literally, which brings us to this week's exploration: the chic shaved head.
The practice of hair removal has been around for centuries, with hairstylists dating back to the eras of the Egyptians and Romans. The "less is more" idea, no doubt, spawned the concept of the shaved head. Indeed, bald-chic goes way back. The look has garnered much attention due to maverick actresses getting all method about a role -- à la Demi Moore in G.I. Jane and Natalie Portman in V For Vendetta. However, within the community of shaved heads lies subcultures with differing degrees of carefully structured baldness. The mohawk is a classic punk-rock style sported by Pink and cute celebrity children. It removes the sides of the hair, but maintains a structured tuft on the top of the head. The "side shave" has been on the rise since last year, a favorite recently featured on musicians like Rihanna and Willow Smith. It is exactly as it sounds, a shave on the side of the head; if only more things in life (like Mitt Romney's tax plan) were as self-explanatory.
In some ways, this liberal attitude with hair represents an impressive recapturing of the feminist movement from the '70s. For centuries, women's long locks represented innocence and traditional conceptions of beauty -- who can forget Rapunzel? To this day, long hair is undeniably a "feminine" attribute. Hair can be so sacred that certain religions restrict the sight of a woman's bare head lest it attract male attention. In Orthodox Judaism a husband is the only man who may catch sight of his wife's real hair, to the rest of the world she shows only a hat, headscarf, or a wig.
Doesn't this fascination with hair make the tiniest marring of it seem like a more controversial act? Indeed, the shaving of just a smidgen from the side of a lady's head marks a small stand for women everywhere, visually stating that she is in control and, more importantly, one of the most conventional aesthetics does not concern her. And what could be more emblematic of this generation than the notion that protest may occur through an expression of fashion let alone a haircut! It's almost as fitting as the notion that Twitter could aid a revolution...
Discussing the history of dramatic haircuts brings to mind Miss Britney Spears and her almost Ophelia-like descent into madness culminating in her erratic and very public head shave. Many viewed her behavior as eccentric, but perhaps this was simply her last resort to feel a sense of control, to take ownership of her femininity in an audacious way. Britney may be many things, but perhaps the underrated role she once undertook was that of the feminist.
As a-nine-year-old, I once chopped off all my hair and then spent the entire night crying about it. Had someone (preferably Gloria Steinem) taken me aside and insisted I had done my part in aiding the fight for women's equality, I probably would have felt a little better, but hey, the one awesome part of a haircut -- like this feminist argument in general -- is that it will definitely grow on you.