As a way to demonstrate to her son that “there is no particular way a mom or a woman is ‘supposed’ to look,” a mother has taken the step of shaving her head down to a buzz cut and posting her photo on the “secret” Facebook group Pantsuit Nation, where it’s gotten more than 45,000 reactions and 2,500 comments since Sunday.
“I shaved my head for the first time in high school, and then a few more times throughout college,” posted the 27-year-old mom, Virginia Mellen, who lives in Maine with her husband and 15-month-old son and spoke with Yahoo Beauty about her post. “I always felt most comfortable, confident, and attractive with a shaved head. Over the past few months I wanted to do it again, but I kept hesitating—‘Is this ok to do now that I’m a mom?’ ‘What will people think now that I’m older?’ ‘What if people incorrectly think it’s a political statement, or I had a mental breakdown?’”
But then, the post continued, she had another thought: “I want my son to grow up with a mom who doesn’t make decisions about her appearance based on what other people think,” she wrote. “I want him to know that there is no particular way a mom or a woman is ‘supposed’ to look. So last night I shaved my head, and you know what? I don’t think he noticed.”
She ended her post with the hashtags “#nastywoman,” “#lifestooshort,” and “#pantsuitnation.”
The reactions to Mellen’s bold move and look were supportive and loving:
“I think you are beautiful! Shaved head, whole heart and reflective!”
“You look so beautiful! It takes a lot if courage to go against the norm, that is what we call it. I have been wanting to go bald several times, but have chickened for whatever reasons. I am hoping that one day I will do it, just to feel the air on my scalp, must be so wonderful!! Congratulations on being so courageous!!!”
“He’s lucky to have a mom who is comfortable with being herself and is true to her spirit. I am confident he will be raised to respect women and accept them as who they are.”
“My grandmother once said, in response to one of my cousins shaving her head, ‘There’s two things nobody can tell you anything about, that’s your politics and your hair!’”
Mellen tells Yahoo Beauty that she put thought into each of her past buzz cuts, but none so much as this latest. “The first time I shaved my head I was 17 and I just wanted to try something new. I didn’t think very much about how people would react, or what shaving my head might symbolize to others,” she says. “I was, and in many ways still am. an insecure, self-conscious person, but I think shaving my head allowed me to gain more confidence. I felt like I could no longer ‘hide behind’ my hair, so instead I could just be me.”
Now, 10 years later, she approached it differently. “I was more nervous to shave my head. For me, one of the most difficult aspects of becoming a mom has been the weight of society’s expectations—the notion of what a ‘good’ mother is,” she says. “On any given day there are countless opportunities for us to second-guess ourselves, to feel like somehow, we are not enough. A hairstyle may seem a little trivial, but shaving my head makes me feel powerful because it is a daily reminder that I made a decision based on my own self-image, and not based on our society’s expectations. That’s the ‘me’ I really want my son to know.”
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