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She had wanted to shave her head for a long time, but hadn’t because she was a girl, and ‘what will people say’. But then, one day, she just did it. This is the author’s story of taking her power in her hands.
Calling myself ‘Baldacious’ for the first time in my life, was not less than a victory. I had been thinking of going bald since a long time and, the day had come when I went through an extreme ‘hair existential crisis’, questioning the purpose of hair on my head (Lol). The rough tiring mornings on the laptop, the nervousness of completing college assignments before the deadline acted as catalysts to want me to go bald, undoubtedly.
One fine Saturday morning, I decided to (let go of my hair) get it S.H.A.V.E.D.
It was a huge shock for a not-so-progressive society to see that a girl got her hair shaved under their nose, and was still roaming around, baldaciously!
It reminds me of those wedding functions and parties where girls are expected to flaunt their beauty and curves with makeup, hairstyle and costly dresses. As we enter the event, people scan us from top to bottom to judge our ‘looks’ and shower us with compliments for looking ‘beautiful’. I always wonder if it’s ‘really beautiful’, as sitting in and paying a bomb at a parlour pays off really well. At the end of the day, we get the appreciation, or rather the validation that girls are expected to get from the society.
It had been a long time desire of mine to roam around like a Proud Baldie. Last year, I got a short haircut but later I realized that even short hair is tough to manage, particularly when I have other important things to do in Life. Like planning a Social Intervention, thinking of a good research objective. Like going for Field Visits in Villages, Studying, Reading, Exercising and Playing Basketball. I have wanted to do this since many years, but a fear of ‘what would people say’ had demotivated me.
All the times I had asked my mother if I could go bald, she would laugh at me, thinking that I was joking. I always took the back seat, deciding not to hurt her. But this time, it was a moment of epiphany. I knew that I would convince her anyhow and, I decided to let myself loose.
This time I gave space to my thoughts to act freely and loudly. I was so confident that after getting shaved at a men’s parlour, I video called her, happily,
Me(excitedly): “I have tried something amazing, Mom. Seeeee!”
Mom(with a confused look): “Good, Now you have done it, what more to say”.
Me(as if I know nothing): “Mummy, What happened? Aren’t you happy?”
Mom(as if trying to digest my bald look): “What should I say? Why would I have problem?”.
Me(with a big smile and positive attitude): “Mummy, I am looking superbly beautiful. In the video call, it’s not clear. Otherwise, I am looking like the beauty of this world!”
My parents started laughing like crazy, and the conversation took a hilarious turn.
Me(trying another reason): “You know mummy, when you did my mundan (ceremony of removing child’s hair after 6 months of being born), everyone enjoyed it but I couldn’t because I was very young, and I don’t remember. I always wanted to enjoy it too, so I got my mundan done again.”
My parents went crazy laughing, and with few more quips here and there, we went on to our daily conversations. Now, when I receive inspiring messages from women around me, my parents feel proud. My mother tells me that now she realizes that it takes guts for women to go bald and still walk gracefully, and she is proud to see her daughter owning that graceful walk.
It was altogether a different experience and a totally badass social experiment to understand what people think of girls who go bald, and how they react to it.
I am fortunate to be surrounded by amazing people who loved this idea of me getting my hair shaved. Not only do they praised me for this ‘gutsy’ action as they called it but also felt proud of me for breaking stereotypes.
This one act of mine made me understand how many girls want to get their hair shaved at least once in their lifetime, but they are also scared of the people around and their families. A lot of women came to meet me in my hostel and at the college, took selfies with me, and expressed their desire of going bald at once in their lives. Their disappointment was also visible when they were expressing their inability to do so by asking one question “It requires guts to do this. Where did you get them from?” And I could see their eyes sparkling, imagining themselves in my shoes. I felt beautiful, as an act of mine could inspire many, to listen to their inner call and, to do what they feel right for themselves.
Many of the questions were thrown at me as people around curious that why would a ‘Girl’ want to shave her head. The stories they cooked up by themselves interested me the most (all funny stories). Those who asked me directly got simple and direct answers like ‘I couldn’t manage my hair’, ‘Just for a change’, ‘Wanted to see myself without hair’, ‘I wanted to look prettier (LOL)’ and all these replies were usually followed by a small conversation.
However, there were many speculations made to reason out my baldness without even asking me(Hahaha). There were rumours that I might have visited Tirupati, a city for Hindu Pilgrimage in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh and, that’s why I have removed my hair to fulfill some religious affair. (Whaaaaat? Like people do that too? Ok!) Great! The other rumour was that I might have campaigned for Cancer Survivors (A humane speculation). People also thought that I have sold my hair (I think it’s a good idea for next time, I’ll remember that).
Thanks, no thanks.
It got me really high when I realised that people don’t expect girls to go bald just out of choice and fun. Yes, I think this vocabulary of ‘choice and fun’ is for a male space, predominantly. There has to be some social cause, religious affair, or ‘unavoidable circumstances’ that would make girls go bald. The saddest rumour was that I had dandruff!
But I enjoyed all this. It used to made me laugh seeing people making crazy speculations about me, in my absence. The more interesting people were those who were talking me to me till one day before this act and, suddenly they were escaping from me. They did not even want to look at me, let alone make conversation. I could not understand it the first day but in the next few days, I was clear about that. What I understand is, it was a big exposure for these little babies. Such exposures first threatens us, then challenges and makes us question, makes us think, and then changes us. I am glad that I was able to give that exposure to them.
The news reached my extended family, and my grandmother called me. She is 75 years old and, I call her Amma.
Amma: “Ae Nupur! I have heard that you removed your hair. Is it so?”
Me(I knew what was coming): “Haan Amma! You have heard it right.”
Amma, ‘Why? What happened? Are you not ok?”
Me(I knew what reason would satisfy her): ”Amma! I had so much pressure from college. And you know that we should study really well. So to save my time, I did it.”
Amma: “I am so sad to hear this. Now what will happen, you have gone bald.”
Me, (I couldn’t stop laughing): “Amma, What ‘What will happen’. Nothing will happen. I will get my hair back. It’s not kidney that it’s once gone, gone forever. It’s hair. It’ll come back.”
And we hung up the phone after wishing love to each other.
This is how my experiences varied from taking reactions and responses from all age groups. It was a great learning experience for me too.
What it taught me, is that we can’t wait for the right moment, right time, right circumstances to listen to our minds and speak our minds. We can’t be dependent on society and people around to take decisions for us. This is where women have to take the lead by themselves by building courage, and taking actions instead of just thinking around.
Know that no messiah is ever going to come to let us do what we want.
No prince charming exists to make us feel beautiful even when we feel bad about ourselves.
And we have no time to wait for an ideal society that will go through reflection and remorse one day, and realize what wrong they have done to our freedom and self esteem since centuries.
It is only we who own the role of a messiah to support ourselves, turn into Princess Charming for ourselves, and pamper ourselves every moment feeling how beautiful we are. Last but not the least, it’s time that we realize that we can be the creators of this society, all we have to do is inspire each other, have each other’s back and empathize with each other. We have to be convinced in ourselves that, from now, Society will not create us, instead it will be created by us.
Images credit: Noor
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