How to empower young girls: Bald is beautiful on women


Last week, my dear friend Ozma did one of the most bold and courageous acts to help redefine beauty for her daughter Olivia– she cut and shaved her hair off. My husband and I used to work with Ozma in Los Angeles. We even brought newborn Olivia home from the hospital who is just a few weeks younger than our daughter Zoe. So I am personally connected to Ozma, Livvy and their happily ever after story that continues to unfold right before my eyes.

Ozma posted on her Facebook account along with some photos of her new buzz hair cut in a photo album labeled, “I am not a Disney Princess.” In her Facebook status update, she said:

Today I took the plunge. I want my daughter to know that “beauty” is not what Hollywood claims it to be, nor is it always about having beautiful Disney Princess hair and features. She knows we can donate the hair to those who need it more, and mine will grow back in Livvy’s words, “some other day.”

Ozma’s story makes me think of the New York Times Best Selling book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter, by Peggy Orenstein. Orenstein addresses commercialization in the girly-girl culture. She says, “So much is at stake, for mothers with girls of all ages: How do we define girlhood? What about femininity? Beauty? Sexuality? Our choices will tell our girls how we see them, who we want them to be, our values, expectations, hopes, and dreams.”

Read Ozma’s story to see how she discovers the choices that she makes directly reflect the messages she sends to her daughter about beauty.

Herstory: Bald is Beautiful on Women

It is somewhat hard to begin this story because it could start in so many places. Like when I was younger and my theatre teacher told me to grow my hair out because I needed to look more “feminine”; or the countless times I have seen ads, commercials, or any other media outlet showing beautiful women with equally gorgeous, flowing hair. It could also start when we found out my mom had cancer, although she was more frightened about losing her breasts than her hair. Most recently my four and a half year old daughter, Olivia, came home from her preschool and announced she needed to have long hair to be “pretty” and it wouldn’t hurt if I could put her in a dress for school. Initially I didn’t think much of that comment, but it bothered me.

preschooler wearing a heart shirt

I promptly told her she was pretty no matter what she wore, including messy, short hair and muddy shoes. She furrowed her brows and said, “No, mama. I need to wear a dress, I am supposed to be beautiful, and boys are supposed to be handsome.” I tried not to scowl as I said, “I think boys can be beautiful too, and some boys also like to wear dresses.” She quickly dismissed me and went to put on a princess dress. When she emerged later as Cinderella, I said, “Remember when we talked about hair and you want yours really long? That is ok Olivia, if you want it long that’s great. I have a question, would mommy still be beautiful with short hair?” She thought for less than a second before responding loudly, “Yes!” I laughed and said, “It doesn’t matter what my hair looks like, or what I am wearing. It doesn’t matter what you dress like or how you wear your hair, we are both beautiful because of what is inside our hearts. It is what is inside our hearts that counts.”

preschooler in a disney rapunzel dress

In our home I want my daughter to feel free to be a ninja or a princess, but I do not want it to stop there. I want her to feel she can also be this way OUTSIDE of our home, whether that is at school, a friend’s house, wherever. Do we own Disney movies?  Why, yes we do. I grew up with Disney and can honestly say I was enriched by the artistry and magic, and I also had parents who made sure we weren’t glued to the television set all day. They instilled a passion for reading and creativity that I continue to pass on to my own child.

pirate dress up

Then came the kicker, Olivia started saying how beautiful my hair was…. and noticed other people made comments about it too. This wasn’t exactly an issue, but when she started saying she needed long hair “like mama’s….or Rapunzel,” I started to look at myself. What message was I actually sending her? I could say all day long that short hair is equally great, but was I actually being a real example of that? I had always thought one day I’d shave my head out of rebellion, to release all of the past energy fed to me about long hair equating my femininity. Now, I had the opportunity to do so, and let my daughter know there are also people in our world desperate for hair because they have none due to illness.

long hair before cutting and donating

When I told my fiancé I wanted to shave it off I expected him to respond vehemently against it because…well, there are wedding pictures to think about. I really should have known though, that this is not the kind of man I am choosing to marry. He smiled sideways and said, “Okay.” As soon as he said yes, I started looking up organizations to donate the hair to, and the next day I announced to Olivia that she was going to help me cut my hair after school. I think she was more shocked that I was going to let her cut my hair, than reacting to the fact that I wanted to cut my hair short. After explaining to her why I wanted to do it, she smiled and said, “Okay…which scissors can I use?”

bald and beautiful buzz haircut

I collected the hair in a pony tail as the organization Children With Hairloss specified; and Olivia sat in the bathtub watching closely.

cutting hair to donate to children with hairloss

cutting hair to donate to children

After I cut the pony tail off, my daughter and fiancé proceeded to cut my hair down to a few inches on my head.

buzz haircut

When it was done, all choppy and lopsided, I walked outside with Olivia and she said, “Mama…you look funny…and you are so, so, so, so special!” I gave her a huge hug.

bald and beautiful buzz haircut in a ziplock bag

That afternoon, before I had shaved my choppy cut down, I went to a furniture store with my fiancé Tim. After finding a few much needed pieces the store owner and furniture craftsman visited with us, and we talked about our children. I told him my daughter had cut my hair for me to which he immediately and honestly stated, “It is beautiful. You look beautiful.” For the first time ever I actually believed that statement. I knew in my heart no matter what kind of hair I had or didn’t have, my spirit was making it look perfect- and that is the lesson I needed to learn. I hope someday Olivia understands… and I hope her dad will not be too alarmed if she wants me to cut her hair short in the near future…
bald and beautiful buzz haircut closeup

Doesn’t she rock the  buzz cut with such grace and beauty? If you knew Ozma, you’d know she’s just as beautiful on the inside. The best part is that Ozma is a preschool teacher, so she is breaking down stereotypes about girls and princess culture to the most absorbent minds everyday. And Ozma’s response to her hair after shaving her head, “Not missing it at all.”

preschool art bald is beautiful

"This is my mommy with short, spiky hair. She is standing on the grass in the sun." ~ Olivia, 4 years old

Speak your mind?

What messages are you sending your daughter about beauty? Have conversations started in your home about beauty and body image? Does this story bring up any thoughts about our society and the role media plays on how we define beauty? I would love to hear your thoughts. Join the conversation in the comments below. And share this story on Facebook if you think bald is beautiful!

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26 Responses to How to empower young girls: Bald is beautiful on women

  1. Popo Joy March 19, 2012 at 8:54 am #

    What a wonderful story. I especially like the part where Olivia said, “Mama…you look funny…and you are so, so, so, so special!”

    Ozma looks amazing bald!

    • Aiysha March 19, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

      Love this! I to had the same challenge with beauty standards and have had a “Buzzed” cut for 6 years now. I love it and you look great Ozma! Rock on sista!

      • Jadah March 20, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

        Send me a pic Aiysha. I would love to share some images of beautiful mamas rocking a buzz haircut. 🙂

    • Gracie March 19, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

      Ozma is one of the most beautiful souls I have ever encountered. Of course she did this and of course she is just as beautiful.

      • Jadah March 20, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

        Gracie, thanks for joining the conversation. Yes, Ozma is such an amazing person. Her beauty just pours out from her insides. I love her to pieces.

    • Jadah March 20, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

      Kids say the cutest things.

    • kas robinson January 23, 2013 at 9:14 pm #

      I love this story! I too just buzzed my head and I love it!

  2. Justine @ The Lone Home Ranger March 19, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

    Wow! Thank you for sharing Ozma’s touching, courageous story. My daughter is almost four years old and wants to play princesses frequently, so I share her mixed feelings about Disney. Part of me still gushes to hear the intro music to their movies but another part winces when I hear my daughter say she wants to be rescued by a prince. I like Ozma’s take; allow princess stories in moderation but also demonstrate personally what it is to be a strong, beautiful woman.

    • Jadah March 20, 2012 at 2:15 pm #

      Justine, I feel the same way. I love how Ozma shared that she lets her daughter watch Disney and that anything in moderation is okay.

      I think the most important thing is starting a dialogue with our children. My daughter is 4 years old too, and we have the most amazing conversations about life. So if you don’t want your daughter to get wrapped up in being rescued by a prince, see what happens if you talked about prince’s the next time you watch a Disney movie. Ask your daughter what does she think of the prince? What does she like about him? Why does she want to be rescued by a Prince? Let her know is sounds like a lot of fun. Talk to her about storytelling and fantasy. And explain the difference between reality and fantasy. Let her know that real marriages/ relationships are hard work too.

      I know sometimes it might seem like it will go over their head, but you will be amazed by what our little ones soak up from us. It’s our job to facilitate their world view with resources, ideas and inspiration to help them formulate their own thoughts. And it’s always okay to express your view about how you feel about things without taking the joy away from her.

      Is your daughter your only one? This age is so much fun.

  3. George Sellner March 19, 2012 at 8:47 pm #

    Pretty awesome!!! Zoe said you’re beautiful, I agree:) so proud of you

    • Jadah March 20, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

      Such a sweet thing hearing you talk to Zoe and ask her questions on what she thought about Ozma’s hair. I think it’s so important to have dads be a part of the conversation with their daughters when discussing beauty.

  4. Ryan Hansard March 20, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    Great drawing, I love how happy and high she is jumping!

  5. Marieke March 22, 2012 at 9:03 pm #

    What an amazing story! Very touching and such a wonderful example to set. There are no words for the amount of respect I have for her.

  6. Lonna April 4, 2012 at 9:57 am #

    I’m so glad I found this!

    People (mostly women) are horrified when I tell that that my husband cuts my hair. They respond as if I said, “My husband did my brain surgery.” It amazes me the importance that society has put on silly things such as hair styles and name brands. I’ve done my best to steer my now 11 year old daughter away from these notions. Beauty comes from who you really are, who you has made yourself to be. I’m showing her this later. Thank you.

    Ozma is truly beautiful!

  7. teresa April 7, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

    I love this story. What an amazing idea and thing to actually do. Beautiful indeed.
    It makes me want to think of ways I can give my daughter more of these messages.

  8. Firemouse April 7, 2012 at 9:00 pm #

    Being able to make the choice is important. I recently was given a buzzcut while unconscious, during emergency brain surgery. My family tried to have my waist-length silver pigtails saved, but the surgeon wouldn’t do it. I’ve never had short hair, and I’m finding it hard to get used to.

    • lucia nunes June 22, 2012 at 2:43 am #

      Hello there

      I’ve just shaved my hair too… it’s for work reasons. Anyway I feel really fresh and confident but I hate when people look at me scared and like I’m allien…


  9. Kate July 4, 2012 at 11:45 pm #

    Cool you look just as great as a MAN now awesome! Women and men equals so why not look like them to further equality. BTW quit makeup as make-up means putiing on a falce face why? Cause a real face wount do?

    • biv August 29, 2014 at 9:24 am #

      she doesn’t look manly just because she has short hair. :/ she can wear makeup if it makes her feel good to.

    • Jessica April 8, 2016 at 1:58 pm #

      I rock no makeup and a very short hairstyle as well….still look nothing like a man!

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  11. Ruth June 2, 2015 at 3:46 am #

    I cut my cut my hair because I was losing hair too much and it was damaged than attempted to grow it out but after bad haircuts ended up with a ultra short buzz cut. I learned that women who wear their hair ultra short have to deal with looks and stares, discrimination, and negative comments. People immediately make assumption about your sexual orientation no matter how much girl stuff I wore people assumed I was trying to look manly by my haircut. I just couldn’t believe how cruel and narrow minded some people in my local area can be. So, sad for people to make assumptions, and to treat others based on their looks, or choices of how they wear their hair. Kudos to those who are teaching their daughters that beauty is how you are on the inside and outer appearance is not the most important thing.

  12. Sonia July 30, 2015 at 3:10 pm #

    Beautiful lady!
    I have always had statement long dark hair but in August I am braving the shave and buzzing it off in aid of Macmillan cancer support. My hair will be sent to the Little Princess Trust who make real hair wigs for children experiencing hair loss due to cancer.
    This cause is fantastic but is also giving me the chance to challenge my own ego – I am looking forward to meeting the woman under my hair!
    Well done for standing against what society deems we should look like and just being YOU 🙂 xxx

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