“I felt like I was holding onto a piece of femininity that would make the world feel comfortable with who I am,” says Lena Waithe.
Thanks to the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, the word ‘empowering’ is one we’re using more and more to describe the ways women are speaking out against the patriarchy.
By definition, it means to become stronger and more confident, especially in reference to someone taking control of their life. And it’s a description that feels entirely fitting of Lena Waithe’s recent decision to liberate herself from the pressure of looking stereotypically “feminine” and shave her head.
The writer, producer and actor, who made history in 2017 as the first black woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing, spoke about her new hairstyle and what it means to her, on the red carpet at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s annual grants banquet yesterday (9 August).
Speaking to Variety, she explained: “I’d been thinking about it for a while and, if I can get deep, I felt like I was holding onto a piece of femininity that would make the world feel comfortable with who I am.”
Waithe went on to detail how different hairstyles can sometimes make lesbian women feel that they fall into certain categories.
“I think I thought for a long time, ‘Oh, if I cut my hair, I’ll be a stud, I’ll be — in the gay world, there’s a lot of categories — I’ll be a stud or I’ll be a butch,’ and I’ve always thought, ‘Well, no, I’m not that, I’m still soft,” she said, referencing her sexuality.
After considering how she was letting the world, and other people’s potential judgements affect how she lived her life, Waithe says she knew she had to “put (those concerns) down, ‘cause that’s something that’s outside of me.”
When Waithe took the plunge, and shaved off her trademark dreadlocks, she says she was filled with “happiness and joy” and “really stepped into” herself.
She added: “If people call me a butch or say ‘she’s stud’ or call me sir out in the world — so what? So be it. I’m here with a suit on, not a stitch of makeup, and a haircut — I feel like, ‘Why can’t I exist in the world in that way?’”
We love how Waithe looked the pressures she felt directly in the face, and found the strength to go against them and be true to herself. Let her be an example to all of us to move away from society’s definition of femininity and beauty standards, and do what feels right for us.