I first saw her in elementary school and I was amazed. As a pre-pubescent youngster, I began to develop strange feelings for the opposite sex, trying to ever-so-slightly flirt with the girls in school. Kick a ball in their direction, crack a joke so they heard me, even send a note here or there. I was jonesing hard. First it was Princess Leia and that gold/maroon bikini (Carrie Fisher was quite the dish), then Chrissy Snow on Three’s Company, then it was Blair on The Facts of Life. Throw in Valerie Bertinelli on One Life To Live and the brunette daughter on Too Close For Comfort and you have the symbolism for my pre-teen crushes. Don’t even get me started on Farrah’s poster. The common thread between all my crushes was flowing hair – brown, black, even blonde. Their locks waving back and forth transfixed me. And then I saw her: a bald woman… and I loved every curve of her.
The idea of a bald woman is nothing new; it’s just where the baldness happens to be that is in question. Within the last few decades, a woman’s pubic hair has gone through a radical transformation. From a hairy 70’s bush to the once-over to the racing stripe to some seedlings to, dare I say it, completely bald, the female genitalia has seen its crop come in from the farm. We’ve undergone a rapid counter-cultural hairless renaissance and men – and women alike – are infatuated with a smooth, bare vagina. I used to be against the idea: a woman’s private parts reminiscent of a pre-pubescent 12-year old elementary school girl just didn’t do it for me. But as it seeped into our bedrooms (Thank you Brazil for proper waxing!), I have developed a love for a shiny nether region. But it’s on the head that I’m looking for change… and it happened for me in 1979.
For me it began with Star Trek: The Motion Picture, before the Kleons, before Ricardo Montalban. Her name was Lt. Ilia, and after a successful IMDB check many years later, she was really Persis Khambatta, a model-actress and Miss India 1965. In the movie, she was beautiful, sexy, and bald. She was a Deltan alien in the film with a beautiful face and completely bald head. I had never seen anything like it before, ever. The shine of her cranium, the perfect circumference and shape of her scalp. She was out of this world… literally. I had grown up in the age of thick locks, flowing hair. Even the men were hairy. See The Bee Gees, Travolta, and Selleck. To see this gorgeous woman with no hair was foreign to me and I wanted more. Throughout the years we have seen women go bald, but it never sticks. And I’m not talking about women who have undergone chemotherapy – that is something entirely different, although sexy as well. The common sight of a bald woman is a turn-off to many, but I say no. I wish that baldness was in, women walking the streets of New York City with a shiny exterior. And as fashion trends come and go, it one day may very well be.
My girlfriends have had short hair, stuck to their scalp and super-tight. It is the closest I have gotten to a bald encounter of the first kind. The short bob and the “Drew Barrymore mid-90s pixie ‘do” are the shortest hair styles I have had the pleasure of touching. I could remember walking through the student union at my upstate university and noticing the short-cropped hairdos a la Madonna in the “Open Your Heart” video (minus the tassels on the nipples of course). That look was so far removed from “Like A Virgin” and reeked of something new and exciting. Something the world was waiting for… and then these women came along and screwed it up.
The first failed bald experiment was Sinead O’Connor in 1991. Huge star, beautiful, her SNL Pope photo-ripping stunt ruined it for short-haired women everywhere, even women who were thinking of going bald. The sight of her tearing up the photo made her Public Enemy Number 1 and it was over for the bald movement. Next was Sigourney Weaver in Aliens 3; painful to watch and not a good look for her. Her emaciated and bald Ripley did nothing but keep baldness in the shadows. And then Britney Spears shoved it in the closet for good. Her paparazzi-loving self-inflicted head shave made going bald a sign of craziness, lunacy, and kept hair from coming off anyone’s head. Baldness is in need of a rebirth.
But some of Hollywood’s biggest stars have taken to the shortest look and succeeded in making it sexy again, if only for a mere few. Natalie Portman in V for Vendetta, that crewcut accentuating her facial features; Demi Moore in G.I. Jane, although very mannish, sexy nonetheless; Grace Jones, who always went short and had a sadomasochistic quality you sometimes like in a strong woman; and the model Amber Rose, Kanye West’s on again/off again squeeze – beautiful, golden brown skin with a blonde peach fuzz on top. These women exemplify what it means to be beautiful and bald and here’s hoping to a new beginning, a fresh start for women who want to be free of curling irons, free of hair appointments, free of feeling Jennifer Aniston’s Friends cut was “the only way I can live.”
How foolish women are. The term “Bald is beautiful” was created for a reason and the female form should celebrate and revel in its glory. It is almost a matter of time before a woman’s head gets a full-blown makeover with a razor and a pair of scissors. And when it does, I will be first in line… along with my memory of Lt. Ilia