As a fresh-off-the-boat ovarian
cancer survivor inspired by my own experience with hair loss and the many
other inner and outer aspects of my journey, I embarked on my Bald Is
I want to send a message to women
that they can "flip the script" on the many traumatic aspects of the
cancer experience, and embrace every part of their journey with self-love,
empowerment, and a deep knowing that their beauty and femininity
radiate from within and are not diminished in any way by the effects
of having cancer.
so much Strength, Dignity, and Grace in the cancer journey;
so much Beauty, Joy, and Light, and I want to show that
image to the world. To share a new idea of how we — the patient or
the people around us — can experience cancer and what that journey can look
like. We are fighting for our lives and cannot afford negative energy in any
form. We need every part of ourselves — body,
mind, spirit — every cell, literally and figuratively, to be filled with self-love.
I met so very many women along
my own journey whose self-esteem and inner strength were battered or shattered
from the hair loss (and even more so with mastectomy or loss of reproductive
organs) because of societal views about "illness" and "beauty", and what
supposedly defines a Woman and what the image of a beautiful woman includes (or
does not include). I want to encourage and empower women to define our
beauty and femininity for ourselves on our own terms.
Through BisB, I am working to activate the fashion/visual media industry to
expand the notions of beauty and femininity to include a bald woman. The
fashion & beauty industry can make a huge difference while making a powerful and
compelling statement by diversifying the images used to depict women's
beauty to include what is currently seen and felt as imperfection or loss of
beauty. By contributing
towards the expansion of ideas of what constitutes beauty and helping dispel the
stigma that is associated with hair loss due to chemo, alopecia,
or other hair loss conditions, women will have positive reflections
of themselves in the media instead of images that make us feel worse then we might
already feel while we are trying to heal. We can make choices from a place of self-love and
the desire to nurture ourselves, instead of being made to feel inadequate.
If enough people see a bald head like mine in the context of visual media
in which people seek out what is considered fashionable, then it will
engender compassion and acceptance from the public-at-large for
women who are so deserving of a big societal hug.
As it stands now, because society has embraced the currently-en-vogue
male baldness with high profile actors and sports figures donning
their shiny or lightly stubbled crowns on the small and big screens as well as
in magazines, men who face losing their hair have countless positive images to
support them through that change. This is not true for women (yet). Even in the
face of a life-threatening illness, the loss of hair is often considered the
most emotionally devastating aspect for a woman.
What's a girl to do without her hair? After all, it is so much a part of one's
identity, isn't it? There is no room for any negative energy in this process; it
is one small part of a larger journey. Women can embrace their chemo-induced
baldness with a sense of adventure and in fact be proud to be bald. My
gleaming, smooth crown is a badge of courage, of survival.
A woman who chooses to cover her baldness should not do so because she is
hiding or ashamed or out of embarrassment, but rather because
she is choosing to reinvent, redesign herself in whatever way she
desires, with or without headgear. It's time to start telling women that our
womanhood and femininity is not determined by the sum of our parts. With or
without hair, one or both breasts, or reproductive organs, we are beautiful,
desirable, and spiritually perfect as we are.
Fashion/visual media is the
visual component of BisB. Ultimately I hope that the exposure and visibility I
can get will give me the platform to speak about the things I have been inspired
to share from my personal experience with cancer, and help others learn to
understand, empower, and, most of all, love and heal ourselves
and each other throughout and through every aspect of this journey and the
rest of their lives.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Give voice to my mission of
awareness, compassion, sensitivity, the beauty of
individuality, and most of all, humanity.
© 2003 sharon
blynn / baldisbeautiful.org