This month we celebrate the historical contributions of women. And in classic Cranium Care style, we’ll focus on a particular type of woman: the boldly bald.
For decades, these women have thrown stuffy views of femininity out the window, choosing to express their individuality by rocking a bald dome.
It wasn’t always easy for these trailblazers: they faced down plenty of critics and naysayers. But they refused to be held down, instead choosing to be their beautiful, bold, authentic selves.
Each of these women helped to destroy bald stigma and inspire the next generation of baldies.
In this article, we’ll highlight a few of the most influential female baldies from the past 50 years.
See if you can spot the connections!
Grace Jones is a Jamaican-born model, singer, songwriter, and actress who rose in fame in the late ‘70s. She’s part of VH1s 100 Greatest Women of Rock and Roll, and her iconic flattop and shaved dome were some of the first mainstream examples of gender-nonconforming hair styles.
At 18, Jones started her career as a model. Designers loved her dark skin and androgynous face. This is when she first unveiled the iconic flattop.
In the late ‘70s, Jones started making disco music. In the ‘80s, she shifted toward the new wave style, producing several entries to the UK Top 40.
In 1984, she broke into film in the movie Conan the Destroyer with Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the following year she earned a key role in the Bond film A View to Kill.
The next year, Jones released her album “Island Life”. The album cover generated some buzz as it shows off her beautiful shaven dome and lots of skin. 30 years later, in 2008, Jones released her latest album “Hurricane”. On this cover she wears a disco-ball hat over her closely shaven dome.
When asked why she would do something as radical as shaving her head, Jones said shaving made her feel
"less tied to a specific race or sex or tribe. I was black, but not black; woman, but not woman; American, but Jamaican; African, but science fiction.”
This Irish singer-songwriter’s signature bald dome has been inspiring women to own their dome for decades.
After a turbulent childhood, O’Connor signed her first contract at 17. She released her debut album in ‘87 titled The Lion and the Cobra. Critics loved her powerful voice and unique, complex sound. However, O’Connor didn’t cross over to the mainstream until the release of her second album I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got which included the hit single “Nothing Compares 2 U”.
O’Connor shaved her head early in her career. She has maintained the bald dome for decades. In interviews, she’s explained that she shaved because she didn’t want to be perceived as “pretty”. It was her way of rebelling and expressing her individuality. She’s also said that maintaining her androgynous appearance helped protect her from sexual predators, especially in the music industry.
"I don't feel like me unless I have my hair shaved," she said. "So even when I'm an old lady, I'm going to have it."
Amber Rose is a model, musician, TV personality, and author. She shaved her dome at 19 and never looked back.
Born into poverty, at age 15 Rose began working as a stripper to help support her family. She soon began earning roles in music videos, working with rappers like Young Jeezy, Nicki Minaj, and Ludacris. From there she went on to sign with Ford Models agency, release her own music, star in TV shows, and publish a book called How to Be a Bad Bitch.
Rose has made it her mission to fight gender inequality, advocate for LGBTQ rights, and promote self-love.
Amber Rose’s iconic blond buzzcut has inspired countless women to own their domes. She has said that her own bald-head inspiration came from none other than Sinead O’Connor.
“When I was a little girl I used to love Sinéad O’Connor’s video and song ‘Nothing Compares 2 U.’ I knew I wanted to look as beautiful as she did one day, so when I was old enough to make my own decisions, at 19, I cut it off.”
This South Sudanese model and designer began her career as an 18-year-old fashion student when a talent agent saw her walking around an outdoor market in London. Just 4 years earlier, she had fled her home country of Sudan to escape the civil war.
Her first gig was on Tina Turner's “Golden Eye'' (see if you can catch her beautiful bald dome in this 1996 video). After that, she signed with Ford Models and went on to appear in magazines like Elle, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Forbes, Ebony, and Vogue.
In addition to her illustrious modeling career, she has also enjoyed success as a fashion designer, creating a line of handbags called Wek 1933. She is an active advisor to the US Committee for Refugees, and in 2007 she released her autobiography Alek: From Sudanese Refugee to International Supermodel.
Wek has been unapoligetically rocking a gorgeous shaved dome throughout her career.
In 1998, she was walking in the Betsey Johnson Runway show. She was styled in a blonde wig, and at the end of the runway she pulled it off and threw it, revealing her clean shaven dome. In an interview with BBC, she reflected on the moment saying,
“That wig was not just about me taking it off to make a scene. It was a time that I was just starting in fashion, to work. And the one thing that I told my agents was if you are going to represent me, I’m not going to be a gimmick and be in for a couple of seasons. You’re going to take it all or leave it.”
Christie Valdiserri is a model, dancer, fitness instructor, and speaker. She has Alopecia, an autoimmune condition that causes mild to moderate whole-body hair loss. She struggled with hairloss for years before deciding to own her bald dome in the most spectacular way.
Valdiserri graduated from Penn State in 2016. She then moved to New Jersey and enrolled in a NYC dance program. During this time, she noticed a small bald patch appear on her head. Worried about her health, she found a local dermatologist and made an appointment. She walked out of that office with a diagnosis: Alopecia Areata.
She spent the next several weeks researching her condition, mourning her hair loss, and learning to cope with this major change. Soon she was able to earn a dancing gig on a cruise ship.
She quit her job, moved out of her apartment, and signed an 8-month contract with the cruise line. Unfortunately, within 6 weeks of joining that team she was fired with no notice, because she “stood out”. Which to her, could only mean that the manager did not like how her hair loss looked.
After that heartbreak, she moved to Los Angeles where she eventually signed with a dance agency, modeling agency, and commercial agency in addition to becoming a fitness instructor. Then, in July 2019, she earned a spot in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Search runway competition.
She walked out wearing a long blonde wig, strutted to the end of the runway, and shocked the world by ripping off her wig to reveal her bald dome.
Sports illustrated went on to select her to appear in the 2020 SI swimsuit edition as their first ever bald female model. She is on a mission to normalize beautiful bald women.
“I was so nervous backstage leading up to the moment, but knew in my heart I had to do it. I had to do it for myself, for all the tears I've cried about this condition, for all the girls and women out there who want to rip off their wigs but are too afraid to”
Ayanna Pressley is a U.S. congresswoman from Massachusetts. Early in 2020, she revealed that she had Alopecia and has since proudly worn her bald dome.
Pressley’s political career began in Boston in the ‘90s where she was a tireless community activist and a senior aide to Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II. She worked with Kennedy for 13 years.
In 2009, Pressley became the first woman of color elected to the Boston City Council. During her 10 years on the council she helped create programs to support disenfranchised neighborhoods and reduce the high-school dropout rate.
On November 6, 2018, Congresswoman Pressley was elected to represent Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, making her the first woman of color to represent Massachusetts. And one year later, she was bald.
In an emotional video published by The Root, Pressley spoke about her journey with Alopecia. How for years her Senegalese twist hairstyle had been a pivotal component of both her personal and political identity. How for months she woke up each morning to a sink full of hair. How she had worn a wig onto the floor of the House of Representatives to cast her vote.
And then, after telling her story, she removed the wig.
“This is my official public revealing. I am ready now because I want to be freed from the secret. And the shame that that secret carries with it. And because I’m not here just to occupy space, I’m here to create it. And I want to be free. I am making peace with having Alopecia, I have not arrived there.”
These Baldies Are an Inspiration
These trail blazers are incredibly resilient. They each faced down critics. They stood up to their insecurity, and overcame their fear.
Each of them prove that femininity and beauty are not wrapped up in hair. Beauty comes from within, and femininity is expressed in countless ways.
So, from all of us here at Cranium Care, and on behalf of baldies everywhere, we would like to extend an extremely heartfelt and sincere thank you to every trail blazing baldie. Your bravery and self-confidence are contagious, and your contribution to bald culture cannot be overstated.
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