SOME OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL MODELS IN THE WORLD, SOME SUFFERING FROM HAIR LOSS, HAVE POPULARIZED “BALD HEAD” LOOKS IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY.
It seemed like “America’s Next Top Model,” the popular reality program, was about to make hair loss history on March 8, 2006. Commercials for the episode hyped the big news: This would be when “The Girls Go Bald!”
Naturally, this episode had a special interest to those in the hair loss community, especially women. While some women opt for baldness as a look, other women have had hair loss forced upon them, often due to the condition known as Alopecia. With hair playing a significant role in the definition of female beauty, the thought that a bevy of gorgeous models would be demonstrating to the entire world that beauty is not follicle deep was really enticing.
Naturally, things didn’t work out as expected. The models’ legitimate insecurities about this prospect were exploited rather than explored, although this is par for the course for most reality programs. What’s more, the models didn’t actually go bald but instead were fitted with bald caps.
Going bald versus “modeling baldness”
Clearly, whatever one’s feelings about hair loss, it would be wrong to coerce a woman into shaving her head if she did not feel comfortable with the idea – although, again, many reality programs are built on the concept of forcing contestants to do things that they do not want to do. Still, it could have been a great moment if the models had been offered the choice of truly going bald and talking about that experience, or of “modeling” baldness by way of the bald cap.
The episode opted for the illusion of baldness, but that still had value. The world was treated to some truly stunning women proving that hair loss was no impediment to beauty and could actually accentuate and enhance some features in a most alluring manner.
Of course, there have been models who have pursued the bald look long before “America’s Next Top Model” got into the act. For example, fans of the 1970s funk-soul band The Ohio Players know that many of their albums – especially those produced between 1970 and 1975 – featured a fascinating, incredibly sexy bald woman whose outright and explicit sensuality contributed significantly to the band’s record sales.
In 1984, Jenny O, a fashion model from Sweden, made enough of a splash with her tressless look to rate a profile in People Magazine and the cover of Donna, the noted Italian fashion magazine.
Fashion models strike a blow for hair loss awareness
Numerous other fashion models have sported the look through the years. Eve Salvail, a French-Canadian model, attracted attention in the 1990s when she not only shaved her head but adorned it with a distinctive Chinese dragon tattoo and became one of designer Jean-Paul Gaultier’s favorite models. Although she periodically has grown her hair out, she has also periodically returned to the shaved look and seems to have been consistently bald since 2007.
Gaultier also utilized the shaved-hair services of the mysterious Gin Clarke. Clarke’s delicate yet dangerous eyes and mesmerizing lips make an even greater impression without the distraction of a full mane.
Kathleen Pearson-Thomas, who like Salvail has moved from modeling to music making, also has frequently shaved her head and used that signature look to gain significant assignments in Europe, especially in Britain.
Laura Hudson is a rather petite American model who has suffered from Alopecia since she was a child. She struck a blow for bald consciousness when she bravely appeared without a wig on the Learning Channel’s “A Makeover Story,” and gained a great deal of confidence from the experience.
Perhaps surprisingly, the woman frequently called “the Original Runway Diva” is bald. Sharon Quinn gained her reputation back in the 1980s, where the statuesque and voluptuous Miss Quinn stood out, a plus-size woman among the more typical size 1’s and 2’s. Her shaved head look has attracted a great deal of attention, especially after making her mark as a fixture on a variety of cable programs.
The list doesn’t end here, of course. There’s Argentina’s Catalina Rautemberg, Scotland’s Lisa Lewis, Senegal’s “Face of Africa 2001” winner Ramatoulaye Diallo, and many others. And as of July, Amber Rose, who until now has been better known as the close-cropped beauty constantly by mega-rap star Kanye West’s side, is officially part of the runway, having been signed by the prestigious Ford Models.
And what about “America’s Next Top Model?” Well, in October of 2007, the program did present a genuinely bald model. Contestant Bianca Golden suffered an unfortunate hair weave incident. Clearly distressed, she had no choice but to shave her head down. She found the look surprisingly to her liking and eschewed the wig that she was offered, preferring to offer the viewers a look that was striking, distinctive and powerful.
Golden was a rather controversial figure, but she deserves props for proving that the definition of beauty is expansive enough to encompass a wide range of options, including one that involves no hair. For once, that’s a message from a reality program that has real validity.