Friday, June 25, 2010

Hey Cosmo, female shaved heads are not "skanky"

I thought this discussion ended once Britney's extensions blended in with some of her own hair...but I was wrong. I'm sure my readers remember when Allure magazine called bald a "beauty breakdown"--it spurred a heated blog post and a Facebook group in support of bald women. Now Cosmo wants to play.

In its July issue, Cosmo showcases a picture of Mel B--who rocks the half buzz--and impliedly calls a female shaved head "skanky" (as opposed to "sexy").

To be exact, men with "missing shirts" are "sexy," and women with "missing hair" are "skanky."

And Cosmo is just plain uneducated. Hegemonic gender performance is largely heteronormative and varies across cultures and throughout time. To say that two holes for a set of pearl earrings is "good" and one for an eyebrow piercing is "bad" demonstrates how inherently meaningless dominant cultural assessments actually are. Any assigned value would be a classist assessment (that wouldn't even be accurate in 2010 among a large portion of medium- to high-income urbanites).

Hair is a form of self-expression. It need not be so loaded. But in a gender-, race-, and class-stratified world, the shaved and half-shaved female head does carry a message. The message isn't "skanky" and it isn't "sexy"--it's "I do as I please."

It's no mystery that mainstream fashion magazines targeted to women (haven't analyzed those targeted to men) discourage high self-esteem (see overwhelming tips on caloric restriction, ab exercises, and photos of starving women)--but they pretend to champion the opposite. I don't buy the idea that flashing articles on sexual pleasure and career women makes an establishment empowering to women. I believe that loving women means encouraging them to be healthy, not be active, not recognize that being a woman means different things to different people.

I digress. The bottom line is, if Cosmo wants to pretend to care about independent, empowered should respect the buzzer, not call it skanky.

Tell Cosmo what you think about female shaved heads here.

And speaking of the side shave, check out the actress in this video against commercial whaling.

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