Bruce Willis's daughter Tallulah after her father shaved her head instagram/buuski

their sunny skulls, as fragile as eggshell…”

Richard Yates’s toe-curling description of two children’s heads in Revolutionary Road has for some reason long stuck with me, coming to mind unbidden and disgusting like the memory of something embarrassing I did at age 15. Sitting in A&E with a concussion, after hanging a heavy painting above the head of my bed with a probably inadequate hook, as I remember it. Not just because I am undoubtedly pretentious, but because it is so apt: the human skull is so hauntingly fragile, as easily cracked as an egg.

“Long hair knotted around female necks into a millstone that weighted them into domesticity.”

One serendipitous result of the lockdown is that we are beginning to value the services of those who for so long have been unfairly considered lesser. Hairdressers’ doors are locked, meaning split-ends galore and landing strips of exposed roots. I currently resemble a cross between the girl from Brave and Margaret Thatcher. But, like so many, I am too scared, nay too vain, to attempt to cut it myself. I am of the allow-people-to-mock-me-until-I-get-a-haircut tribe, aspiring to the brave shave-it-off clan.

Because the naked skull of a woman is vulnerable; to concussions from badly hung pictures, and, more profoundly, to critique from those whose expectations of identikit femininity entails at least a manicured finger’s length of bleached and blow-dried hair. Men seem to shave their heads arbitrarily and regularly, with little-to-no reaction. As Dolly Alderton says, to be attractive, men just have to wear an alright jumper. Women need to look like women whose full-time job it is to look that way just to get a look-in. Long hair in times gone by signalled luscious fertility and good health and knotted over the years around female necks into a millstone that weighted them into domesticity. Men could not do practical labour with long, flowing locks, and women had the time at home to maintain it.

“She was seen to have lost all that was feminine, an undesirable anti-Eve.”

Social media, as with most Gen-Z debates, can be held accountable nowadays. The constant strive for perfection leaves us questioning if it is worth having something at all that is not resoundingly perfect. Cohesive, considered ‘looks’ are becoming increasingly ubiquitous, making it noticeable when your choice of haircut does not adhere to how you present yourself stylistically. For those with control or self-esteem issues, or simply those who are interested in fashion, having perfect hair that ‘goes’ with your broader cultural and sartorial tastes is key. Unkempt, untidy hair can be construed as a sign of laziness or even weakness. It is a gap, a cracked or rotting post in the perimeter fence that we build around ourselves with fashion. It is, therefore, completely understandable that so many would rather go without hair at all.

The bald head of britney Spears made headlines, causing it to be as engrained in pop-culture as the star herselfinstagram/steviebopeep

Yet it is crass to assume that The Youth are so brainwashed by the times that they would shave their heads simply out of perfectionism. Take Britney Spears’ well-documented 2007 breakdown. Admittedly headline-making because of the situation surrounding her choice, her bare head was all the more shocking given her all-American pop princess persona. She was no longer the teenage heartthrob; dressed in tracksuits rather than miniskirts below her mown scalp, she was seen to have lost all that was feminine, an undesirable anti-Eve. The same goes for Cara Delevingne, Charlize Theron, Sinead O’Connor to name only a handful; women famous for their style and beauty have buzzed their hair, liberating themselves from patriarchal expectation and the astronomical cost of a decent dry-hair conditioner.


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There is a vast amount of privilege to recognise around the shaved head. I haven’t even touched on the intimate link between female baldness and health, whether that is losing hair through chemotherapy or alopecia, or the women of colour and people who simply don’t conform to traditional notions of gender who have been shaving their heads for years. Historically head-shaving has been inflicted forcibly as a misogynistic punishment, for French women after the Second World War suspected of sleeping with Nazis, or by the IRA as recently as the 1990s for women seen to collaborate with the British police in Northern Ireland. The choice to chop is socially loaded, but with only your family and the postman to laugh if the result is catastrophic, it is peak time to radically experiment. Fashion relies on upheaval: with excitement a rationed commodity, the industry is and will be creating more radical and innovative designs. Why not shave your head as a nod to this? After all, you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.

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