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I am in 10th grade and recently one of my friends, who had beautiful shoulder-length hair, shaved her head completely. (Just like in GI Jane) Well, I loved it. It looked so comfortable and free. However, a lot of people at school were saying how stupid she was to do it. Not that I'm going to go and shave my head now, but I was just wondering about the pros and cons of doing it. I could not believe everyone was getting so uptight about it. I mean, it's only physical appearance, right? For one, it's much safer and healthier than having long hair. It just blew my mind how people were being so closed-minded about it. Are the women in our American society so bombarded with beauty magazines and TV that we can't make our own decisions? They have already got us shaving our legs - and that is no fun at all. What more do they want? It's not sexual harassment or anything, but it's the principle that's important. Anyway, if you could, please help me out. Thanks - Kalaki

Thanks for being such a supportive friend. I think that your classmates are reacting to two things: one, they are simply reacting to someone who is being different. For instance, I remember when I was in high school -- and somewhat this continues today - there was a lot of pressure for everyone to be the same. One example is that most of my friends are getting married and I don't want to, even though my boyfriend and I have been dating for 11 years. My friends can't understand why, and I think it's because they can't understand something different. So, some of the reaction is "Why be different?" Being different is threatening to some people because it's easier to have your identity shaped than to have to figure out what it means to be true to yourself. So in some ways it's jealousy.

Two, they are reacting simply to her being a girl and doing something that isn't feminine -- i.e. challenging gender roles. It's upsetting the natural order of things. Change is hard for people -- and though I don't really believe this to be true, it is certainly easier to walk on a path than to create your own. In reality, I think that making your own path is a more satisfying venture.

I hope that helps and I hope that your friend is happy with her decision. Years ago it was unheard of for women to have tattoos and piercings -- and now it's practically weirder not to -- so shaved heads could be next. Also, it could be solidarity to all of those women who have to do it for chemotherapy. I hope that others realize that by not supporting someone's choices, they are setting themselves up to not have their choices supported.



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