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 Beautiful mission.
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.
There is 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.