I completely agree with you on your point " As bald women, we feel enormous pressure to conform - ultimately to reduce others' discomfort" When I first started to go out with my shaved head, I was more concerned with how others would feel. I do feel there is outside pressure to fit a certain mold. After a few months of this "concern" for others sort-of pressuring me to hide my shaved head under a wig or scarf, I thought forget it. Who cares how they feel? This is about me, this is happening to me, where is my concern for myself? This is when I slowly reclaimed myself. As weird as it may sound I feel like it has liberated me, forced me to really look at who I really am and what is important. I found I am more than my hair :)
wow ok this just got real real deep and way out of my vocab...
i aint dumb by any means but i havent gotten the opps that some people have as far as university........
so this being said i am going to try and comment on what emily said and i may have miss read.......
1 being that i dont think femininity is a social constrution the word may be but not the feeling......
i think a woman feels feminin(and im grasping beacuse i am a male after all) when she feels good
about her self and is high in confedence just from my observations.....and that is a feeling....not something that society made up........
2 saying that you feel less feminin only when told so and not simply beacuse you have no hair i think in both cases it would lower your self view in wich case would make you feel less feminin............
so now im fixin to get redneck cuz thats who i am....you can take all the mumbo jumbo and analysis about femininity or self esteem or our self view and it dont mean a whole heap of nothing........
you feel the way you feel cuz of how you look at your self that day and outside information you might have gatherd wether it be from some jack ass being ignorant, some thing you read in cosmo or what ever......
so not sure much on theory just what i know from being a person and feeling the same things maybe not feminin but most def handsome and out going wich are feelings and they change day to day.
I grew up with AA and have been happily AU for many years now. My femininity is defined by me alone. Its really all about what I like. I suppose I probably try too hard or over compensate for my lack of hair and I really do try to play up my feminine features with girly "hair" (I wear wigs), a little makeup and pretty outfits. I love to wear cute little skirts that show off a little leg, and I love heels, oh so feminine and sexy!
Hair or no hair, its here nor there. I feel feminine regardless. I know my smoothness is envied by my friends and my guy loves it!
I realize that confidence plays a major role in how we are perceived. I exercise regularly, practice yoga, eat right and try to get lots of sleep. When I feel good I know that I look good. This carries over into every aspect of my life. I try hard to keep myself fit (a great stress buster) and that gives me the confidence to stand tall, make eye contact and truly connect. Smiling is my secret weapon :-D
I agree with both Brian and Orbit -- I don't think that "femininity" in the context of this discussion has much to do with how society sees us (although indirectly it does impact the choices we make about ourselves); rather, it has more to do with what is it that we women do to make us feel more like women?? Unfortunately, women have been perceived to look and act a certain way since the beginning of time, so when something as catastrophic as alopecia occurs, of COURSE we have a hard time adjusting! How many of us, full haired or not, were teased and picked on in school because of something OTHER than our hair??? If school was that horrible for something as simple as being a nerd or a jock or a goth or whatever clique you fell into, just imagine how much harder it is for the young girls on this site alone, or even for those of us alopecians that went through school without hair. Society is "wired" to be afraid and unkind to what stands out or doesn't conform to the established standards. In this case, we have one and all been shunned at some point because we have very little or no hair. Unfortunately, and RJ has mentioned this before in some of his postings on AlopeciaAndLove.com, but we have all at one point in time or another been subjected to lookism. How many times have we been passed over for jobs, dates, and other activities that would put us in the middle of a group of people because of how we looked? Of course, being the pc, litigious society that we are, lookism is something that would be very hard to prove, yet we all know it exists.
So I say all that to ask, is femininity something that we instinctively have or is is something that is determined for us by others? I think to an extent that it's both. We are all aware that we are women, and beautiful, sexy women at that. However, we also want others to see us as being feminine and sexy too. Some days it's easier to do that than others -- we play up a feature that stands out, like makeup for our eyes, or a bitchin pair of earrings, or a funky scarf or strange hat. Other days are harder, because the reality that we ARE different can be a little hard to deal with sometimes. So maybe the best way to recapture our femininity is to recognize that we WON'T feel "girly" or "feminine" every single day, and that it's okay to feel that way!!!
In the end, I've found that confidence is the answer to everything -- if I feel good about myself, then others see that, and that makes them feel good about me! What do you think???
As demonstrated by most of the replies in this discussion, including Brian's and YoKasta's, it's all but impossible to contemplate, or even discuss, "femininity" without reference to one's social context. No woman or man is an island; each of us is a product of our environment(s), the sum total of life and social experiences. Thus, however one defines "femininity," s/he he always defines it from within -- or, perhaps against -- some social context. It's important that each of us come to grip with this fact because one is in the best position to resist, reevaluate, redefine, and re-envision (negative) social forces and influences that one clearly recognizes. Otherwise, you may, and probably will, end up perpetuating the very demeaning and divisive notions of gender and beauty that you claim to deny.
Having hair (or hair length) has little or nothing to do with either femininity or masculinity.
A feminine woman who is bald will still look feminine.
Just as a masculine long haired man will still look masculine.
In some cultures women wear their hair very short or shave their heads.
What makes a lady feminine is her face, body, voice, personality, etc..
To me, some women with very short hair or who are bald look even more feminine, because you can really see a woman's feminine features without hair in the way, her feminine beauty comes through more.
Bald women look exceptionally feminine if they are wearing makeup, long earrings and a beautiful dress.
Georgia, thank you joining this discussion about "femininity." Your words struck a visceral chord with me and brought to mind the reflections of feminist thinkers like bell hooks, who seem to suggest that women's greatest gift to the world is that they teach us better than (patriarchal) men how to love or "nurture" in just the manner you described. And, as bell hooks also points in publications like Communion: The Female Search for Love, the most beautiful thing about it is that such love necessarily commences with self-love (not narcissim, mind you). Indeed, it is this foundation of self-love and self-acceptance that allows you to then extend the "real" you -- and a "whole" you -- to your family, community, and romantic partner while at the same time eluding and/or escaping the crippling dynamics of domination-submission, beautiful-ugly, and so on.
i really like hearing the replies on this one!!! For me i think alopecia looks good on every one so lets dress it up a bit for me again i get the wierd stairs and the questions so... i say ... they look at you anyways lets give them something to look at i dress in the flashie colors and wear the danglie earings. and the qute hats !! lets be brave it hurts me to see ppl hiding and unhappy. be the person you wanna be!!! come on a few men may just look at your chest anyways???? boy my reply so dose not fit it but oh well thats what it means to me feeling beautiful
We are conditioned by society and religion to believe our femininity is linked to our hair, body type and other aspects of our physical being. However, over the last few years I have come to realize that femininity is more an attitude of a woman's heart than a physical characteristic. We must remember that being female doesn't make one feminine. I was a tomboy growing up and was so far from being feminine that my mother worried. As I grew I embraced being a girl/woman and began to walk in my femininity. I still played basketball, ran track and did martial arts, but I did them as a woman. A bald woman or a balding woman (me) still carries the mystic of femininity that she had when she had hair. It is others who are still shackled by societal ideas of femininity that cannot or will not see that having hair is not the sum total of femininity or sex appeal. While it may enhance one's appeal to another we cannot allow it to define us. I am a woman, soft and feminine. I am losing my hair not myself. In order to maintain, get back or take back one's femininity one must become radical in one's thinking. I use the word radical because bald woman are not the norm, because for so long women have been lead to believe that long hair made them more attractive and desirable. We have been inundated with commericals, products and pictures that reenforce the the idea that hair makes a woman beautiful and feminine. Remember who you are. God created woman and He didn't say she was beautiful because of her hair. Women are special because God created them. Be who you are. Whatever you were before, you are still that person. We tell our children that its the inside that matters, believe it. That old saying is true. I still like a good clean joke, dancing, reading, going out to dinner with Cortez, hanging out with family & friends, watching cartoons and most of all going to Church. I love to dress up in pretty dresses and high heels. Do I stop doing those things? No, I continue being me. I love my eyes, my legs aren't too bad either and having lost quite a bit of weight I love the new me. So I will continue doing what I love to do. Admit that you are afraid, sad or mad. You did those things before you lost your hair when a situation arose that warranted those feeligs. Don't pretend. If you feel crappy say so. Take time to examine why you feel the way you do. It hurts. However, don't live in it. Wash your face and anoint your head and move on. If family and friends aren't supportive search the net and find an organization such as this one who will be. You are not alone. Pray! I realize that everyone may not believe as I do, but it has been my lifeline. My faith in God is what has brought me through life long illness and a host of other life shaking circumstances. If you know the Lord, go to the Lord. You are His creation and with or without hair He loves you.
Cheryl, I think its all in our head. We have to feel sexy and desirable without a mirror image. We have to love who we are and decorate our temples accordingly. Exercise and dress in a way that makes us feel pretty. Its called feeling good in our own skin. Cheryl, in your profile picture you have a beautiful smile. That is what I see before your hair. We must accentuate our eyes and our smiles. Inner happiness will make us glow and feel special. Also, Good love making does wonders for our fermininity. Truly it does.
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