I’m upset. Tears are threatening to burst out my eyes. Not tears of sadness. I’m not sad, I’m upset. And frustrated.
I shaved all my hair off today. I knew it would elicit mixed reactions. I thought I could handle them all. I was wrong. The reactions I’ve struggled with the most are from those closest to me. People who I honestly would expect better from. I’ve been told all sorts of things, and they are upsetting, really.
“A woman’s hair is her glory”. I paraphrase, but I got told this one today. It’s a verse from the Bible. I’m Christian. I argued that we must look at the context of that verse, and especially the cultural context. I have many issues with this verse being used against me.
For one, it talks about men and women worshipping with their heads uncovered and covered respectively, otherwise they dishonour themselves. It says that if a woman worships without covering her head, it is as though she is shaven and it is a dishonour to her head. None of the Christian women I know cover their heads for spiritual reasons. Why? Because we know that that was a cultural requirement when the letter to the Corinthians was being written. It does not necessarily hold for us today. If I can be blunt, then they are all as much a disgrace as I am with my shaven head for not covering their heads in worship (1 Corinthians 11:1-16).
We don’t consider meat with blood to be unclean anymore. Why then are we selective about the verses we apply to situations? See? Upsetting. Also, the verse says LONG HAIR is the woman’s glory. How long is long? Long relative to what? Because that raises a whole lot of other complex issues.
The second problem I have with this phrase is this: Does it apply to women with alopecia? Women whose very biology, which I believe is designed by God by the way, attacks their hair follicles and causes hair loss and baldness? Do they not have glory or beauty?
Thirdly, Kikuyu (my tribe) women traditionally wore clean shaven heads. Only with colonisation did we adopt Western standards of beauty where long hair was glorious. Maasai, and Samburu women still wear their heads bald. According to this verse then, they’ve never had any glory. Rather discriminatory if you ask me.
My point: I think it’s wrong to use verses out of context for anything.
I also got told that I’m protesting against something and that is why I shaved my head. I do not owe anyone an explanation, but maybe I should clarify why I did it. I wrote a bucket list when I was 16 and on it was “Go bald”. I do not know/remember why I wrote that down, or what was going through my mind when I wrote that down. It might just have been a whim. I still have the book in which I wrote down my bucket list. I look at it at least twice a year. And some of the things on there are rubbish. E.g. “Marry an Italian mafia dude for his money then divorce him”. Ha! Rubbish! But some of the things on there are pretty weighty. So about going bald, it was on the list; it needed to be done. But thinking about that deeper, it needed to be done because it is something difficult to do. Extremely difficult to do. Even men struggle to shave their heads bald. Let alone women. And especially black women, who have so many complexes around their hair and the identity that comes with it. So for me, going bald was proving to myself that I can do it. Proving to MYSELF. Not proving to anyone and certainly not protesting about anything. The timing seemed right because I am transitioning from university into the working world. So in a sense, it is symbolic. But again, not protesting against anything or anyone. Also, it’s kinda awkward suddenly going bald in the middle of a work year.
“Historically unacceptable” is another one I got told. Flippant statement with no argument and nothing to back it up. Excuse me? Historically unacceptable where? Show me where.
Here’s the thing; you’re allowed not to like my hair (or lack of it). You’re allowed to think it’s strange, different, funny or ugly. But do not make incorrect blanket statements as truths. That’s just upsetting.