A woman’s beauty has historically been tied to her hair; it’s often referred to as their ‘crown’ and one of the main markers of a person’s gender. “Many women feel that a bad hair day equals a bad day,” writes hair specialist Lucinda Ellery. “When a woman’s hair is too fine, too frizzy, too dry, turning grey or falling out, her self-esteem is seriously affected. This deep personal relationship between hair and self-esteem is evident throughout history, philosophy and even religion.”
But Girlswillbeboys is a UK-based collective and digital platform that’s challenging the idea of femininity for the modern, liberated woman. By confidently shaving their heads and empowering others with the confidence to do the same, the members of this group are proving that you don’t need long flowing locks to feel beautiful.
While shaving one’s head might once have been thought of as a symptom of instability – like the sign of a bad break-up or a symbol of rebellion against ‘the system’ – Girlswillbeboys wants to normalise the idea that women need not have flowing locks to be feminine or beautiful. Indeed, female celebrities such as Amber Rose, Cara Delevingne and Adwoa Aboah have all recently sported the shaved look, bringing it into the public spotlight. And with only 77% of women aged 16-24 shaving their armpits in 2016, compared to 95% in 2013, this emerging behaviour among Gen Yers is telling of something that goes beyond hair on the head.
Many of the women getting buzz cuts are doing so for a bit of soul-searching.British YouTuber Breeny Lee is known for her glamorous make-up and long flowing weave, but in a video from April 2016, she took to her hair with a pair of scissors. As part of the digital series Soul Surgery, which challenged women to embrace and love their natural selves without relying on make-up or hair, she explained that her decision was made after spending years trying to impress men and fit into Euro-centric beauty standards. “I’m doing this for myself, it’s not for anybody else. I’m trying to prove to myself that I am beautiful,” she said. “Goodbye beauty standards.