By Tadiwa Rusike
Every generation is known for something. My generation, Generation Z, is racially diverse, sexually heterogeneous and ultra-socially conscious. We love breaking barriers and redefining societal expectations such as attaining degrees, getting married and having children. Through fighting for inclusivity, diversity and gender-neutrality, Generation Z is turning beauty and fashion standards on their heads.
Where women used to express feelings of “this would only look good on her”, they are now growing more entitled to feelings of “but, damn, I could rock this!”. This is because what used to be beautiful and feminine is being redefined as we speak. A glorious example of boundaries being broken lies within the “baldie revolution”, a hair movement by women, for women.
Whether your hair is daringly red, bleached, dyed to the perfect pastel-cotton-candy or the brightest colour found on the rainbow, your hair tells the world who you are, without having to utter a word. Now, imagine if a woman cuts off all her hair. Doing so, she rids her identity of any predetermined expectations.
Once clippers shave away at a woman’s split and damaged ends, all that has been broken and abused in their lives falls onto the salon floor, gets swept up and thrown into the rubbish bin, never to be seen again.
I found a group of women around UCKAR to share why they are a part of the baldie revolution and what it means to them:
“It is the shedding of old skin,” says Siphesihle Ndlovu as she recalls her first big chop. “It is similar to the feeling of checking heavy baggage at the airport and finally being free to run around with just your purse.”
Going bald can be like hitting the reset button on your life.
In a society that once insisted on the existence of an ideal femininity and globalized standard of beauty, these women have rid themselves of a toxic societal standard by cutting off their hair, all of their hair, in honour of themselves.
What is a more powerful way to embark on a journey of personal transformation than to begin with the literal cutting off of the old and starting anew?
What most people neglect to realize is when a woman cuts her hair, she’s cutting off so much more than “just her hair”. While sitting with a group of women who have gone bald it was revealed to me that it actually means so much more than what quite literally meets the eye.
SHE IS CUTTING HERSELF OFF FROM THE SOCIETAL STANDARD OF BEAUTY.
The idea of “[insert name] with the good hair” goes far beyond a cheeky line in Beyoncé’s ‘Sorry’. Rather, it is a systematic idea that has been forced on and marketed to, not only women of colour, but all women. For centuries telling women that their hair is not beautiful and desirable enough if it does not fit into the criteria of ‘long and luscious’, much like that of whomever Queen Bey may or may not be referring to.
SHE IS CUTTING OFF YOUR EXPECTATIONS OF HER.
By fearlessly cutting her hair into the edgy style she has always dreamed of, Ayanda Mahlaba reveals that she is “ridding [herself] of the rigid expectations bestowed upon her by society, partners, friends and family”. In turn, she is creating her very own expectations for herself.
Liberating herself in this way unleashes a whole new side of her personality and opens her up to a world she didn't know existed, she expresses.
SHE IS CUTTING OFF MINUTES OF PRESCRIBED MAINTENANCE.
“For me it is not that deep,” Chelsea Burger shares. “I mean, just thinking about all the time I used to spend on my hair makes me cringe, and it really fits well into my student budget.” This simply poses the question: What could have filled up those tiresome hours she spent tangled in the thick wires of flatirons and hairdryers?
SHE IS CUTTING OFF “BEAUTY” TO TAP INTO STYLE.
Beauty is fleeting but style is everlasting.
Nothing is more stylish than a woman who chooses an authentic personal aesthetic. And nothing screams “daring to be me” better than an edgy short haircut.
When a woman cuts off her hair, she is separating herself from fear and labels. She is being bold by removing herself from everything she is expected to be, to aspire to be who she really is.