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"Bald women: you're bald because you're bald."
—Johnny Q. Public, "Women of Zion"
In many societies, women are expected to have hair. For many, it's a symbol of their femininity and identity. To lose that hair (or worse), would be considered socially unacceptable, at the very least.
So it's a surprise when a woman without any hair appears. For whatever reason, a bald chick is strange, even shocking. The image contrasts with the acceptable image of a woman and cultural values. The baldness can be the result of a number of things, but it's more notable when it is voluntary or Alien Hair. As chemotherapy makes one's hair fall out, cancer is also a common explanation (unless she's wearing a wig).
Thomas Disch recognized this trope in his The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of, a critical look at science fiction. He recognized the bald woman as a "distinctive icon" in SF as a result of "the feminist incursion" into the field. Indeed, most of the time one sees a bald woman who isn't sick or considered abnormal is in science fiction, like Star Trek or fantasy works.
Disch further points out that the bald woman actually represents "empowerment". By playing off well-known Hair Tropes, bald women show that they transcend their femininity and become stronger as a result. Whether this character development occurs or not depends on the character.
Rule 36 applies, of course.
Anime & Manga
- Mahoja in D.Gray-man.
- Parodied in Master Of Epic, in which a band of female players try to fight a monster that ends up giving them bad haircuts. Their solution to beat it? Shave their heads totally bald. However, it doesn't quite work out the way they planned...
- Yakitate!! Japan manga: Tsukino Azusagawa shaves her head. It's not noticed until her wig falls off...
- Lata in the manga Buddha starts off as a pretty girl with beautiful black hair, but when she becomes one of Buddha's disciples...
- Kriem in Episode 18 of Tiger and Bunny. Most likely, the hospital staff shaved her head to keep her from wreaking havoc when she woke up.
- Hitomi from Legend of the Five Rings.
- Magic: The Gathering has several cards featuring this: Cabal Surgeon, Angel of Despair, Fugitive Wizard, and Fallen Angel for extra Bald of Evil.
- Finally, Vile Deacon, assuming you don't count horns against one's baldness.
- Moondragon in Marvel Comics.
- Jinx from Teen Titans (she's a bit different in the comics than in the cartoon).
- Evey in V for Vendetta. In the film, she remains mostly bald.
- Asajj Ventress from the Star Wars Expanded Universe and, later, the Clone Wars cartoons.
- In fact, a number of bald women show up in Star Wars, including Aurra Sing (who had a cameo appearance in Episode I and the later comics) and Sly Moore (the bald chick standing next to Palpatine in the Senate chambers.)
- A heroic example is Plourr Illo in the X Wing Series comics. She starts growing her hair out during the arc that focuses on her, but keeps it very short even then. It's seen in flashbacks that, as a child, she had very long hair.
- The Ratataki race have no hair, so all its women fall under this.
- Alkyone from Wonder Woman, a former Amazonian guard of Hippolyta.
- Nebula from Marvel, after her escape from Titan and a cybernetic operation.
- The Black Panther's Bodyguard Babes, the Dora Milaje.
- P.J. from Y: The Last Man.
- Cassandra Nova of the X-Men.
- Sometimes, Delirium from The Sandman.
- Many female characters in Alejandro Jodorowsky's Megalex, but especially the gorgeous, well endowed Adam Ã¢.
- This once happened to Lois Lane, in combination with My Brain Is Big: here.
- Wet Moon.
- Prudence is a member of the League of Assassins that becomes an uneasy ally to Tim Drake after he adopts the Red Robin identity.
- Lynn from the Silent Hill comics becomes one after the prologue of Dying Inside.
- Mindscan, in the original Guardians of the Galaxy series. Not that you find out until fairly late in the series, as she wears a wig all the time to hide her swollen, lumpy skull.
- In recent comics, Angelica Jones, AKA Firestar, is bald due to cancer treatment. Her distinctive long red hair is a wig.
- In the original run of Excalibur, there was a Nazi counterpart team called Lightning Force, whose version of Kitty Pryde was a bald, anorexic ghost.
- Zelda from the comic book Gold Digger
- Madame Louisa Dem Five in Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire. Not that it's a problem. Especially given that with that figure probably few men look as high as her smile, and she isn't tall.
- Ellen Ripley in Alien 3 provides the picture for this trope, after her head is shaved due to problems with head lice at the Fury-161 penal colony.
- Ilia from Star Trek: The Motion Picture: One of the best-known examples, Illia is probably better known for her chrome dome than Persis Khambatta's acting.
- The Dune films make Bene Gesserit bald for whatever reason.
- G.I. Jane is notable for this, even so far as playing the trope on DVD and VHS covers. There's even a Multi-Take Cut of Demi Moore shaving her head and becoming Badass in the process.
- Agatha in Minority Report. Like in The Matrix, it was because her hair didn't grow while she was kept in stasis.
- Of all people, Satan from The Passion of the Christ. In this case, it also counts as Bald of Evil.
- In THX-1138, everyone is bald. Notably, female lead Maggie McOmie.
- Likewise in the French science fiction film Dante.
- At the end of Shaolin Soccer, Mui shaves her head bald in order to join the team as The Hopeless Replacement; Sing Hangs a Lampshade on the fact that her actress is wearing a rather obvious bald cap:
Sing: Phone home like E.T., Mui. You don't belong on Earth.
- Most people of both sexes in the in-story real world of The Matrix are either bald or very close-shaven. Sort of justified because it would appear that the machines' People Jars prevent hair growth for those inside, but most of the characters would presumably have been out for long enough to grow some more hair, so that's probably not why everyone's hair is like that.
- This can be explained away as function over fashion. They're in a situation where everyone who can hold a gun and shoot semi-competently is a soldier fighting for survival. Long hair tends to be a hindrance in such an environment. It's also quite likely that Zion has to ration water quite carefuly, and shorter hair is much less of a hassle to keep clean.
- As mentioned above, in V for Vendetta, Evey gets her head shaved. In the movie, Natalie Portman actually had her head shaved on-screen, instead of wearing a bald cap.
- Dren from Splice
- Heaven with Kate Blanchett.
- Toni Collette in 8Â½ Women by Peter Greenaway
- Hong Kong movie Temptation of a Monk.
- Rapunzel from Shrek The Third.
- Dementia from The Addams Family Values.
- Hiroshima Mon Amour.
- The Irish lead character of Ryan's Daughter
- Shilo, though it's shown in only one scene (she wears a wig most of the time).
- In Murphy's Gambit by Syne Mitchell, Thiadora Murphy is one of the Floaters, a society of humans who live in zero gravity and are treated as second-class citizens. Like all Floaters, Thiadora's head is totally bald. In fact, the cover art for the book features this.
- Starship Troopers: pilots in the Federation Navy (most of which are women) shave their heads for practical reasons (having long hair is impractical in free fall). On a date, Rico is somewhat shocked that his longtime crush, Carmen, was bald. He later thinks it looks good on her.
- Inverted with the Seanchean in The Wheel of Time, for whom baldness is a social indicator. Members of the nobility partially shave their heads, the high nobility mostly shave their heads, and the royal family is entirely bald.
- Kin Arad, the heroine of Terry Pratchett's Strata, and, by extension, all female long-lifers, since "hair didn't last past the first century or so". She wears a wig, though.
- At least one of the hominid species living on the Ringworld, the City Builders, have hairless crania on both genders. It's not a fashion thing, just speciation, although what conditions led to a species with more or less our ecological niche losing their head hair isn't explained.
- Valerie Russell in Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie by Holly Black.
- Santuna in the Cordwainer Smith short story "Under Old Earth". In her case, it may be a reference to the grooming practices of ancient Egyptian nobility, since the man she's in love with is compared to the pharaoh Akhenaten at one point in the text.
- In The Witches, all witches are bald and have to disguise it with wigs. The narrator is disgusted when his grandmother tells him this, because there's "something indecent" about a bald woman.
- The Elizabeth I installment of The Royal Diaries features a bald female jester.
- One bald woman appears in Otherland (forgot her name, the Australian Aborigine â€” but not Dread's mother).
- Maria in For Whom the Bell Tolls has her head shaved by the Spanish fascists.
- In Ursula K. Le Guin's The Dispossessed, women are expected to be bald in Urras society.
- In Classical poety, the anthropomorphic personification of a limited opportunity, especially of concepts such as Fortune and Time, is as a bald woman with only a single lock of hair on her forehead. The moral being that if you do not seize her as she approaches, there is nothing to grab her by once she's passed.
If kingdom move thee not, let move thee zeal
— — Paradise Regained, John Milton
- Zhaan in Farscape.
- Bonnie, one of Ross' girlfriends on Friends, was described as being bald. However, by the time Ross meets her, Bonnie had a full head of hair. Until Rachel persuaded her to shave it off again.
- Babylon 5 featured this trope, notably with Centauri women, who apparently shave their heads, and the Minbari, who are naturally bald. Delenn actually started off bald, but eventually went under an important change that resulted in her getting hair.
- Two first-season episodes of Small Wonder, the pilot and "RoboBrat", featured a briefly bald Vicki.
- In one early episode of Frasier, we see that artist Martha Paxton is bald; she also never bathes and often wears a poncho.
- On the Donny & Marie variety show, Donny Osmond once pulled the hair off of Marie's bald head and then ran away to avoid a Megaton Punch.
- Seinfeld had an incident in which George complains about dating a bald chick.
- One episode of CSI: Miami featured pop starlet
Britney SpearsElvina going bald because she had cocaine traces in her hair.
- In Season 7 of The Amazing Race, Joyce had to shave her head to win a Fast Forward
- In The Pretender, several episodes have included bald women among the randomly surreal background characters in scenes at the Centre.
- Cycle 6 of America's Next Top Model featured a photoshoot using baldcaps, but one of the models looked so striking without hair that her head was shaved when she received her makeover.
- Jonathan Creek had a one-episode love interest who turned out to be completely bald underneath a wig, a fact that Maddy was exceedingly catty about. Of course, this revelation turned out to be one of the less surreal moments of their brief relationship.
- In an early episode of Panico Na Band (The successor series to Panico Na TV), Babi, one of the Panicats, had her long blond hair shaved off. She definitely looked like a true babe nonetheless!
- Dilbert once met a woman like this. She also had a big brain.
- In one of the sourcebooks for Mage: The Awakening, there is a young 20-something who keeps her head bald because her nimbus manifests as sparks running along her scalp serving as a sample character (for the Pygmalian Society in Legacies: The Sublime). This electricity is not strictly real, but the feeling of lightning through her hair is unsettling enough that she prefers to just keep her head shaved bald (if asked about it, the book states that she'll claim to be making a statement on 'gender or something'). Interestingly enough, she actually has the Striking Looks merit, indicating that she's actually exceptionally attractive in her own unique way (not Angelina Jolie level, as that's the higher-level version of the merit, but still attractive enough to draw eyes) and it's mentioned that she's been featured on covers of magazines a few times. Judging from the page art, she deserves the merit.
- In Deadlands: Hell on Earth, all sykers are absolutely bald. Including women.
- The Tau, of Warhammer 40,000, are universally bald, save for a single lock at the back of their head which they typically grow just past shoulder length. In the RPG books, human women sometimes are partly or fully bald, such as the Sisters Repentia.
- In Forgotten Realms Thay has a custom of shaving heads - Red Wizards and everyone else with status worth a mention has a bald head and often a tattoo or several on it. This includes women, but given that anyone important from Thay is likely to be an arrogant representative of their evil magocracy and/or engaged in slave-trading, the aesthetical side of their traditions rarely becomes a prominent concern.
- Karan Sjet in the Homeworld series. The box art for Homeworld 2 features Karen's portrait and her bald head.
- Jack (aka Subject Zero) from Mass Effect 2. Apparently, she kept the look after a stint in a cult. In Mass Effect 3 (provided, she survives), she adopts a less antisocial attitude and a longer haircut to go with it, though half of her scalp is still clean-haven.
- Talitha, a minor character in the first game, was also shaved bald.
- Janne from World Heroes has her head shaved if she loses a match.
- Safiya in Neverwinter Nights 2. She is a member of Red Wizards of Thay, who all shave their heads in order to mark their scalps with sigils of arcane power. She doesn't have nearly as many tattoos as Red Wizards are supposed to have, though.
- Zenoa in Suikoden Tierkreis
- The Ax Crazy villainess Sasha from In Famous is bald.
- Some Orc women in World of Warcraft are bald; it's treated as just another expression of their badassitude. They are the only women in the game with baldness as an option.
- Momma Bosco from Sam and Max Freelance Police.
- Healers of Agrela in Majesty (the first game, anyway).
- Christine from the Fallout: New Vegas DLC "Dead Money". You'd think it the fault of the Auto-Doc you find her trapped in (which tore out her vocal cords) or the horrific experiments that left her scarred all over, but, in fact, she shaved her head voluntarily and becomes mildly irritated when you assume otherwise.
- Kalin from Fable III, who is not only bald but sports blue tattoos on her scalp.
- Star Wars: The Old Republic: Kaliyo Djannis.
- The titular character of Alice: Madness Returns, in a flashback/hallucination of her time in an asylum.
- The dark elves from Dungeon Keeper 2. Overlaps with Bald of Evil.
- In Legacy of Kain, it seems to be a religious thing, maybe as an extension of the hiding-women's-hair rules of some real religions.
- Shapers in Vega Strike are a faction made up of transhuman perfectionist folk genetically modified with adaptations to a wider range of environments (among other things). This includes skin pigmentation and hair, - they chose as the common part of their phenotype Dark-Skinned Blond with no hair above eyebrows (like this).
- In Sluggy Freelance, Zoe was bald for some time. While changed into a camel, she bit off Gwynn's hair; Gwynn retaliated with a spell that made Zoe lose all of her hair.
- The succubi from Oglaf.
- The furry webcomic Stubble Trouble prominently features several bald girls.
- Arkady from Freak Angels.
- In Order of the Stick, Roy Greenhilt learned a lesson during an emergency use of the Belt of Gender-Changing; "If the magic item doesn't specifically say it grows hair, it probably doesn't." He ended up using a mop-head for a wig.
- Eustace's mother in Courage the Cowardly Dog is as bald as her son and suffers a Heroic BSOD anytime her wig comes off.
- Heather, during the second season of the Total Drama series.
- Then Dakota, in Season 4
- Luann in King of the Hill lost her hair in the Megalo-Mart explosion in the end of season 2. Traumatized by both her hair loss and the death of her boyfriend Buckley in the same explosion, she, as Kahn put it, "puts on strange Sin Ã©ad O'Connor act" and rants about "starving Irish children".
- In Doug, the only female member of The Beets is bald.
- An episode of Rugrats once featured a female news anchor with a very memorable hairstyle, to the point where she's recognized as 'the one with the hair'. At the end of the episode, it's revealed to be a wig, she is completely bald underneath.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, female Airbenders are not completely bald, but the front half of their hair is always shaved to show their arrow.
- On an episode of American Dad, Stan shaves Hayley's head in her sleep after she dyed her hair green for a rally. She wore a wig for most of the episode, but was seen bald a few times.
- "That's the one place you want them to have hair!"
- Kitty Katswell from Tuff Puppy has lost her hair and fur several times due to Gag Haircut situations or comedic abuse.
- In the episode "Sweet and Elite" of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, Rainbow Dash's errant croquet mallet knocks off the wig of a pony.
- An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes revealed that Heloise wore a wig, though this was likely a one-off thing Lucius caused.
- One Simpsons episode had a completely random, bald, female background character who was never expanded upon.
- Many female characters in Gandahar - most notably, Queen Ambisextra and her Councilwomen.
- Molly Holly became bald after Wrestlemania XX, as a result of losing a Hair Match.
- Likewise, Roxxi Laveaux.
- Serena Deeb became bald when joining the Straight Edge Society, but oddly enough, not in a Hair Match. She willingly allowed her head to be shaved by CM Punk.
- An Adidas commercial featured a woman shaving her head totally bald, including her eyebrows. It is soon revealed that the woman was preparing to swim. "Long Live Sport", indeed.
- Also happens in a Korean Powerade commercial.
- OMNI magazine featured this trope on its cover art several times.
- Musician Sinead O'Connor was noted for her striking baldness, but since sexy wasn't her goal, she switched to a very short crop.
- As was Renee Hicks, who exploited it in her stand-up comedy.
- In Tongue First: Adventures in Physical Culture, author Emily Jenkins explores a number of taboos (female baldness among them) to figure out why they are socially unacceptable. One of those experiences is during Jenkins' time being bald.
- Sudanese model Alek Wek either is bald or has very little hair.
- An effect of chemotherapy for various forms of cancer is often the loss of hair, so many women with this look in Real Life qualify as Badass for beating back the disease. It's also fairly common for her friends and family members to shave their heads for her in solidarity.
- Scottish TV presenter Gail Porter lost her hair when she developed alopecia.
- Model Amber Rose has recently been sporting a bald head.
- Britney Spears was known for being bald a couple of years ago.
- Buddhist Nuns are notable for their shaven scalps.
- Porn actress Belladonna once shaved her head. YMMV as to whether this was a good thing, but most agree that she did look good with it for a short while before growing her hair back.
- Singer Skin of Skunk Anansie.
- Model Eve Salvail.
- For some time (caused by chemotherapy), Kylie Minogue, Melissa Etheridge, and others.
- Certain totemist African tribes believe themselves to descend from lions, so their men traditionally wear long hair, reminiscent of a lion's mane, and the women are shaven bald. One such example is the Masai of Kenya and Tanzania.
- Certain Ultra-Orthodox Jewish women are traditionally required to shave their heads when they get married, and then wear a wig over their bald heads for the rest of their lives, even if they divorce.
- St. Clair had her head shaved by St. Francis of Assisi when she asked to join up with his religious order  to escape an Arranged Marriage that she didn't want.
- Ancient Egypt had a problem with lice. The Egyptians' typical solution was to shave their heads and wear wigs. This also had the advantage of being easier to maintain and style than natural hair would be, and easily removed to cool off on hot days.
- there are refugees, but since they would rather not be identified on sight to begin with, they tend to abandon this tradition
- well, she ended up starting her own religious order, but originally, she just asked to join his group