Tuesday, March 10, 2020

A Woman Goes Bald, Because She Thinks It's Cute

It happens so rarely that it hardly merits mention. But still, in the interest of honesty, or some such, I feel obliged to remark that yesterday I found myself in marked disagreement with the highly estimable Miss Manners.

A woman writes to our favorite advice columnist requesting guidance. You see, the 30 year old-- a millennial, but not an adolescent-- has chosen to go bald. She shaves her head. Doubtless she intends to use this technique to ward off the unwanted advances of our hair-sniffer in chief. That would be Joe Biden. Since a woman’s hair contains pheromones, it’s good-bye sexual attraction hormones.

She is a citizen of a free republic, so presumably she has the right to wear her hair any way that she wants. For any reason that she wants. Her reason: she thinks it’s cute. Evidently, we are not in the presence of someone who is overflowing with intelligence.

In any case, people always ask about her condition. Since baldness in a woman is generally a sign of a disease or of certain kinds of medical treatment, people show concern for her. One suspects that she does not recall that in France, after World War II, women who were suspected of fraternizing with Nazis during the occupation were summarily shorn, that is disembarrassed of their locks… as a sign of shame.

Anyway, the letter writer finds it all to be tedious. She does not like it. She wants Miss Manners to tell her how to deal with these unwarranted intrusions.

Dear Miss Manners: I am a 30-year-old woman, and I keep my head shaved. I know it's unusual, but I think it's cute. That's all there is to it.

Other people, though, want to talk about it ... a lot. I get all kinds of questions, like, "Why do you have your hair like that?" trying to figure out if I'm sick or if I shaved it for charity. Twice, people who have battled with cancer wanted to know if I share their struggle. I don't blame them one bit, but I still find it really awkward to say, "No, I just like my hair this way," especially if I cannot reasonably excuse myself afterward.

With family, I get never-ending comments like, "Do you think you will ever grow your hair out again?" and "I think it was so cute when it was longer" and "If you're cold all the time, why don't you grow out your hair?"

I didn't used to mind, but after years of these questions and comments, I am at the end of my rope. I worry that saying I don't want to talk about it will seem harsh, give people the wrong idea about my health or make things awkward. What do you suggest?

In truth, she is giving people the wrong idea. And she ought to have figured out by now that her affectation is not a fashion forward statement. It represents a will to abuse other people, to trick them into thinking that something is wrong. And to allow her to disabuse them of their impression.  

If she is looking to gain attention she is gaining it. If she wants them to stop asking, she ought simply to let her hair grow out. Of course, now that she has made a complete fool of herself, and now that she has tried to impose her affectation on others, she cannot easily let her hair grow without seeming to be giving in to pressure.

Anyway, Miss Manners does not consider the possibility that the woman should let her hair grow. So, she offers a seemingly sensible retort, one that will not solve the problem:

Or rather, allowing those who keep delivering uncalled-for remarks to realize how awkward and tiresome that is for you. Try something like, “Thanks for keeping track. I suppose I do need a trim.”

As you point out, cancer patients are not in that category. But Miss Manners disagrees that your choice trivializes their necessity. On the contrary, “No, I just do it because I think it’s chic” may free them to realize that wigs are not the only way they may look good.

So, this woman has chosen to harass people, to abuse their trust and confidence, to appear to be something that she is not-- as in, sick-- while imagining that she ought to be able to police their responses. No one who gives advice ought to countenance such anti-social and impolite behavior. Even in the name of fashion. Or because she thinks it looks cute.


U. Ville said...

Actions have consequences. Imagine that!

dogsledder said...

It is just like the people with unusual tattoos or piercings that get angry when others stare at them. They wanted to make themselves different then they hate yo when you notice.