Exhibition to stop people wigging out at bald women
WOMEN are encouraged to be as hairless as possible from the eyebrows down, but the loss of hair on their head is viewed with a sort of stigma that makes them either "villains or victims".
That's the view of SCU media student Brigette Lucas who has a genetic immunological disease called alopecia areata that can cause hair loss on the scalp and other parts of the body.
Brigette is currently exhibiting in SCU's Studio One29 gallery with an exhibition called 'A Bald Head - A Hairy Vagina' that shows some of her journey with the disease and aims to challenge stereotypes about hair and feminine beauty.
The exhibition features photos of other women throwing their hair around expressing elation, or pulling their hair to show frustration and a range of other emotions. There is also a collection of wigs that Brigette has used over the years that she encourages viewers to try on to see how it changes the way they view themselves.
"The wig hides who you are, but at the same time you're scared of being discovered wearing a wig, so it can become more stressful than the condition," she said.
There is also a video loop that shows Brigette removing a wig and shaving her head that was taken by her boyfriend, John Baldock.
"That was the first time I shaved it. It was a tough decision because with alopecia there is always this hope that your hair will grow back...It was a very emotional response; there are lots of tears and some laughter," she said.
For the written part of her assignment, Brigette looked into the roles bald women have been in assigned in popular culture; from the Devil in the film The Passion of the Christ to Natalie Portman's character in V for Vendetta where her head is shaved as a punishment.
"Hair is such a big part of who we are as women. Even if you shave it, that's an expression of a rebellious act... Men get to go bald and it's seen as something natural.
"It's shocking for me that society is so shocked by a bald woman."
Brigette says she hopes the exhibition will help the world accept her baldness. She also plans to go on and do Honours next year and explore the topic further through that project.