Monday, April 28, 2008

A truly awesome post on hair...

with some truly insensitive comments.

Here's the post - a must-read.

So, Meowser is writing about being a woman and going bald, and it's obvious as you read her post that this is a huge, weighty, painful issue, not just for her, but for lots of women. She notes in her post that significant numbers of women question their very womanhood upon balding and consider suicide. Clearly, this is a sensitive issue and should be addressed as such in the comments, right? And people who are happy with their hair and who were nevertheless moved by the post will say so in a sensitive manner?

But, in among the comments by women who are losing their hair or whose hair has always been a source of pain for them:

My hair, I have to say, is my crowning glory. It’s naturally blonde but I have it died red with blonde highlights. My stylist is an awesome short-hair stylist and I pay her dearly. I get compliments on my hair nearly every day from women young and old, black and white. One exchange student on campus even told me in a Haitian accent that my hair looks like fire. My husband used to not believe me until we went shopping together and he saw first-hand how often I got complimented on it.

And

It was good for me to read about a different perspective from my own. I am a fat chick, but one aspect of my appearance I’ve always been pretty proud of is my head of smooth, thick, wavy black hair.

And

I have hip-length straight brown hair. It’s my only physical that I truly think is beautiful; it’s thick and gorgeous and shot through with the most ridiculous highlights ever. I don’t just have lighter patches and darker patches; there are strands of my hair that are black, and some that are flat-out platinum. It’s never been dyed or permed or treated with chemicals ever, and I love my hair to bits.

By way of contrast, here's a quote that manages to make the point that the commenter is attached to her hair, without turning her into an inconsiderate asshat:

My hair is one of the few things about my appearance that I DO like - losing it would be really hard. But I think your post illustrates very well how much we define ourselves (and are defined by others) by our looks...

And here's another:

Excellent post. I’ve always been very attached to my hair, but I never really thought about how much of a cultural component there is to that.

So, you know, it is possible.

13 comments:

Stentor said...

I like this kind of "here's how to do it wrong, but here's how to do it right" post.

Plain(s)feminist said...

Well, you know, it's always good to have a model...

bobvis said...

I don't think my blog has never had a 100+ comment thread that didn't get truly nasty. I wonder if having a lot of comments already on a post diminishes the perceived relevance of what was originally written.

Danielle said...

For women considering suicide over balding- a wig is not an option?

CrackerLilo said...

Thanks. I tried very hard to do it right. I too like my hair, and don't feel like I have that much else beautiful about me, but I wasn't going to *say* that. Damn.

That was a really great post, and it (and she) deserve respect. Your post was good, too.

For Danielle: If a woman is considering suicide because of her mastectomy, isn't a foam falsie an option? If a man is considering suicide because of his amputation, isn't an artificial leg an option?

Plain(s)feminist said...

Yeah - I think in all of these situations, there are options for substitutes. I think the issue is not that one can't find a substitute, but that some of these things are perceived by the person who is balding/whatever as losses and simultaneously as communicating a "less than" or "asexual" message about the person.

But the problem is that it cuts deeper for a lot of women - the very fact of having to use a prosthetic for something that is often associated with women's "natural" beauty can make women feel like they are not "real" women. Wearing a wig might allow a woman to feel more "normal," but the baldness itself can still be a shameful secret.

Danielle said...

Crackerlilo- Yes, those are options.

bobvis said...

Crackerlilo, thank you for putting it that way.

Danielle, I'm not sure whether you got her point and PF's. The core reason these women are tied to their hair isn't that they are afraid others will point and laugh. If that were the case, you are right that a wig would be a perfect substitute for hair coming out of your scalp. For someone contemplating suicide over this, their hair has been inextricably linked to their sense of identity.

My unsubstantiated thought: I think when people commit suicide, oftentimes what is going through there heads is "the 'I' I knew is already dead, so if I kill myself now, I'm not really changing anything." In the case of these women, they are having trouble recreating their identities as women who don't have natural hair. They do not recognize themselves--who they are or how they feel.

Danielle said...

I don't know about all of that. I just thought it would be a better idea to get a wig than to commit suicide.

bobvis said...

I'm with you on that.

credit savvy said...
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Anonymous said...

I just chanced on your blog when I was looking down lists of blogs to read. For a change, I decided to focus on feminist stuff. So much politics, so little that matters.

And I really agree about the hair. I remember gals spending literally an hour on their hair in highschool, and I don't wonder they don't still. Hours and hours of our time wasted, billions of dollars spent, and on and on, to achieve some idea of beauty that doesn't really help us much at all.

I wish other people, especially WOMEN would notice how much useless stuff we do with ourselves. While the world seems to be falling apart. Hair wars.

Whatever4

nexy said...

"For women considering suicide over balding- a wig is not an option?

i hate wigs. they're hot and really uncomfortable, and *really* expensive. i use a hair enhancement piece. it's also really expensive, uncomfortable, and hot. i totally understand why a woman would want to kill themselves over their hair. a day doesn't go by during which i don't think about how horrible it is that i feel pressure to have "normal" hair. i've never left the house without either wearing my piece, or a bandanna on my head. i try to convince myself, on those days when i'm wearing a bandanna, that i'm simply a jewish woman practicing my religion. but i never believe me.