There aren’t many full-time baldies in Tinseltown. But once in a while, a star goes bald – for a role, or to make a statement. Keep reading to discover the most badass bald women in the public eye.
Just so you know, this isn’t one of those cut ‘n’ paste listicles from an unpaid intern: I’m a real-life bald women so I’ve thought about this a lot. But if you’re short on time, save yourself some scrolling. Just click a bald head below!
It takes a thick skin to show your head skin. Especially for us bald women.
Our hair has been linked to our identity, beauty and vitality for ages – ever since a vengeful Old Testament God punished the excessively flirty Women of Zion by making “their scalps bald”.
So it seems like it’s the ultimate shame (“SHAME, SHAME!”) to be stripped of one’s hair. Because hair and beauty go hand in hand. The two are so strongly interwoven that it takes more than a little courage for a woman, especially one in the public eye, to lop off her luscious locks.
To put it in context, think how many actresses have gone nude for a role. Now count how many have shaved their hair. Precisely. (Note: I also adore the bald stars who don’t do it by choice).
Let’s start this list of bald women with its pioneer. Maria Falconetti: the French stage actress who lost her locks for her role as Joan of Arc in the 1928 silent cinema masterpiece.
From Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer, La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc is considered one of the greatest movies ever made – even today, directors reference it, praise it and generally go wild for it.
Falconetti’s performance is often noted as one of the finest ever recorded on film. Especially the scene in which the executioner roughly clips her hair, right to the scalp. He then, well, executes her. Not a great day for her.
(Psst… Sorry if that was a spoiler but it has been nearly 600 years since Joan of Arc met her end. I’m sure that’s past the statute of limitations!)
Whilst Falconetti might not be the very top of my list, she does get marks for being the original: the grand dame of bald women on screen.
Younger folk reading this may only know Demi Moore as Ashton Kutcher’s cougar ex-wife. But in her prime (the ’80s and early ’90s) she was serious A-List material.
Moore was part of the “Brat Pack”, alongside acting luminaries Rob Lowe and Emilio Estevez. She starred in movies like Ghost, Indecent Proposal and Disclosure – all of which were #1 Box Office hits – before ruining things a little in 1996, by showing more skin than acting prowess in the critically panned Striptease.
She followed that a year later with another movie that bombed, in which she shed something else: not her clothes, but her hair. The movie? Ridley Scott’s G.I. Jane.
To play the role of Lieutenant Jordan O’Neil, the (fictional) first woman to go through Navy Seals training, Moore shaved her head – and she looked AMAZING! Unfortunately, that didn’t help the film. And the only award she won was the Worst Actress Razzie Award.
Now, while I’m not about to stick up for the film, or Moore’s acting choices, it’s clear she put herself through a hell of a lot of training for the role. In her 2019 memoir, Inside Out, she describes taking part in the film as her “proudest professional achievement”. And while she wasn’t the first A-lister to shave her hair for a role, it still took some serious courage. So Demi deserves Moore praise!
I don’t know too much about model/presenter Amber Rose – she has, until now, escaped my orbit. However, she does rock an excellent platinum blonde buzz cut. Which I like. A lot.
Rose has experimented with plenty of different hairstyles over the years – including a very badass blue buzzcut – but she always returns to this blonde short number, which she’s made something of a trademark. And why not? She nails it!
If my hair ever grows back enough, I’d love to give the blonde or blue buzz look a go. Although Amber’s recent addition of a forehead tattoo might be a little too outrageous, even for Lady Alopecia…
Amber, I’m still not sure exactly what you do, I’m not sure about that tattoo, but I do love your hair! Gettit, gurl!
Many of us first met her as the tenacious Amy Pond from Doctor Who. But nowadays, Karen Gillan is a bonafide Hollywood star, appearing in movies alongside The Rock and Robert Downey Jr. Wowzers.
Gillan, with her lovely Scottish accent, is also known for her lovely red Scottish hair. She’s like a real-life Princess Merida in the Pixar movie Brave. So when she had to dramatically shave it all off for all those Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers movies, it must have come as a shock.
Going from big red hair to a round shiny head is something I know all about. Maybe I can get Gillan to play me when they make a movie of my life. It’s just a matter of time, right? Riiiight?!
Based on the brilliant graphic series by Alan Moore and David Lloyd came a slightly less brilliant – but still pretty damn good – 2005 movie. In that version, Natalie Portman stars as Evey Hammond, a young working girl who gets entangled with V, a masked freedom fighter devoted to bringing down a corrupt and oppressive government.
For reasons frankly too convoluted to go into here, Evey gets her hair shaved as part of an elaborate lesson by V. Whatever the cause, the effect was that she looked FIERCE!
The shot took only one take – which I supposed it had to, considering Portman only had one head of hair to lose!
Portman enjoyed the sensation of being hair-free – in one interview, she mentions how much she loved feeling rain on her bald head for the first time, the water feeling like it was “going straight into [me].” That’s all well and good but in freezing Irish temperatures, or scorching Vietnamese sun, it’s less enjoyable for Lady Alopecia!
Randomly enough, inspired by her performance (and her bald head), a Seattle band soon emerged called “Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head”, or NPSH. Come on, musos – how about forming a band called “Lady Alopecia’s Shiny Head” (LASH)?! Hmmm…maybe I should learn the guitar to speed up the process.
I’ve loved India Arie for a long time. Her song Ready For Love is one of my favorites and I’ve subjected poor Mr Alopecia to drunken renditions many times. When I went to see her perform, I was wowed by her stage presence – not just her soulful voice but her elegance and class.
Arie has always made a big impression with her style – particularly her big hair and collection of funky scarves. Ever a fan of a colourful headscarf, I idolized her hairstyle almost as much as her vocal talents.
So when she shaved all that wild, gorgeous hair off in 2002, she made quite a splash. Especially when she later wrote a tune about that hairdo, aptly named: “I am Not My Hair”.
“I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am the soul that lives within”
Note to self: Maybe this song could be Lady Alopecia’s official anthem. I can play it every time I walk into a room. Hmm…
Always a style queen to me, Arie puts her own stamp on being bald – stenciling on a little forelock of hair for an added twist. Me likes.
Tilda Swinton is a proper actor. She’s got serious acting chops. She’s one of those actors like Philip Seymour Hoffman (RIP) who genuinely transforms themselves for every role they’re in. (Not like Tom Cruise who is just Tom Cruise in every movie. Albeit still a legend.)
For her role as the Ancient One in the trippy dimension-hopping mindmelt that was Dr Strange, Swinton transformed herself even further – by chopping off all her hair. No mere buzz cut for her, either. Nope, she went one step further and rocked a fully shiny noggin instead.
Now, shaving her head didn’t hide the fact that the Ancient One wasn’t played by an Asian actor, which many thought was a classic case of Hollywood whitewashing. But I’m only here to talk about hair. Or the lack of it. And I think Swinton’s bald head looked great.
Way back in 1979, well over a decade before Sigourney Weaver did it for Alien 3 (more on that later), Indian actress Persis Khambatta shaved off her enviable long tresses – not just a buzz cut, full-on shiny bald – for the role of the Lieutenant Ilia in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
Star Trek was already famed for its progressive storylines – and the appearance of Lieutenant Iila was no different. Of course, the fact that she was bald didn’t stop the former Miss India from being ridiculously hot. In fact, as a Deltan navigator onboard the USS Enterprise, her character liked to release sexual pheromones that were irresistible to humans. Hey, that’s one of Lady Alopecia’s hobbies, too!
Back in 1979, the sight of a woman with no hair – and a provocatively dressed one at that – was fairly shocking, to put it mildly. And the marketing powers behind the franchise took full advantage of the hype, featuring Persis’ Iila in lots of the promotional material.
Cara Delevingne is one of those ladies I want to dislike, but just can’t bring myself to do so. She is a young, beautiful fashion model. Ergo, I should hate her.
But she keeps doing cool things. Like shaving her head for the role of Isabelle in Life in a Year – in which she plays a young woman who has cancer and only a year left to live. Hence the bald head. And the title.
Admittedly, I haven’t seen the movie. But I have seen plenty of photos of Miss D rocking her bald head.
Check out this ensemble she rocked at the Met Gala. Yes, Cara Delevingne. Just yes! She’s stating something I always try to get across: Having a bald head needn’t be a disadvantage, but an extra canvas to experiment with. (Plus, there’s ALWAYS room for glitter.)
I love how she uses her status as a bald woman – albeit a temporary bald woman – to go wild. And to inspire others, too.
In a follow-up Insta post Delevingne said:
“The more we embrace who we are as people and rely less on our physical attributes, the more empowered we become. Beauty shouldn’t be so easily defined. It is limitless.”
Of course, that’s easy to say when you’re a model who’s made millions from those physical attributes… but hey, life’s too short for cynicism. Go, Cara! Rock that nut!
Will Smith and his family are a cultural powerhouse and I’ve already spoken on this website before of my admiration for Jada Pinkett Smith, who’s gone through her own much-publicized battle with alopecia.
But it’s Willow, Jada and Will’s daughter, who I want to talk about now. Famous in her own right for the catchy 2010 song “Whip my hair”. What a tune!
Willow Smith has since said that recording the track is one of her only regrets. (Whatever she thinks of it now, it remains an earworm of the highest order. Listen to it once and you’ll be whipping your own hair back and forth for the rest of the day – or if you’re like me, shaking your bald head so fast you get a crick in your neck.)
But I digress. In the midst of all that hair-whipping fame, Smith whipped her own hair right off, shaving her head clean in 2012. A signal to her fans (and her parents) that she was done with that song.
Writing this in 2020, I see Smith’s been at it again. Now 19, she’s shaved her trademark dreads to reveal a fresh buzz cut to the world. Her message, once again, is that she’s starting anew.
A source, supposedly close to Willow, says: “Willow shaved her head for a symbolic reason… She’s had her struggles with anxiety but she’s feeling very empowered and ready to reclaim her life. Shaving off all her hair was a way to release everything and start fresh.”
Whatever her reasoning, I think it looks amazing. And I’m adding Willow to my list of “Smiths I Want To Hang Out With.” If only to get closer to her dad.
Miley Cyrus is another celebrity I’m loathe to like. She seems loud, brash, attention-starved and totally “into herself”. But there’s no denying the girl’s got talent. A crazy pair of lungs and the kind of stage presence that melts everyone else away. (If you’ve ever seen Bill Murray’s A Very Murray Christmas, you’ll know what I mean.)
Plus, I admire her decision to ditch any Disney association with a bold new look, instructing her stylist: “Shave my head, dye me blonde – we need to see change.” Talking about the haircut in an MTV documentary, she went on to say: “I had this whole new attitude. I felt like I could finally be the bad bitch that I really am.”
Cyrus went through a variety of ’80s and ’90s-inspired styles, including a punk undercut, before she grew it out again into a mullet style. Personally, I preferred the short look – when you have a face like that, you should show it off! (Less of the tongue sticking out though. Please.)
From wholesome tween to wrecking ball twerker, Cyrus may grind a lot of people’s gears – including some on this list – but there’s no denying that she can rock a buzzed, bleached barnet!
Nyong’o is a Kenyan actor whose dizzying rise to stardom is well-deserved. Her Oscar-winning role as Patsy in 12 Years a Slave was heartbreaking. She followed that with roles in the newest Star Wars trilogy, Black Panther and Avengers: Endgame. Which combined, only made about 500 trillion dollars at the Box Office.
But it was in Jordan Peele’s creepy 2019 horror Us that we got to witness a true acting masterclass from Nyong’o. Now, I won’t spoil the movie by telling you too much (for once!), apart from the fact it is creeeeeeeepy! And Nyong’o is epic in her role.
But anyway, enough about the movies she’s in. To the hair! Nyong’o first shaved her head in her late teens, when she was jobless and felt it was unfair on her parents to keep fronting the money for salons.
In an interview with Allure she describes walking into the salon:
“‘Let’s cut it off.’ It was almost a dare to myself: Can I live without hair? He shaved it right off. It was so scary but so liberating because I went completely bald.”
Since then Lupita has been through many varied – and fabulous – hair styles and as a black woman, has spoken frequently about her love/hate relationship with “African kinky hair”. She’s come to embrace her locks and rightfully spoke out against Grazia UK magazine for digitally altering her hair to look more “European”.
If I had hair as beautiful as Lupita’s, I’d fight anyone who tried to Photoshop mine, too.
I love musicals. I love everything about them – the costumes, the drama, the way people sing every emotion they feel. (When I do that, people tend to cross the street. Rude.)
I’ve seen Wicked four times. Hairspray, three. I can’t recall a musical I didn’t love. (Although I’ve yet to see the movie version of Cats. I hear bad things.)
But when I saw 2012’s Les Miserables for the first time (of many), it had me in such floods the lady next to me in the cinema had to check I was ok. I wasn’t. I was heartbroken. And the weeping continued long after the credits rolled. True story.
Now, before you blame Russell Crowe’s terrible singing on my tears, it wasn’t big Russ’ fault. (Bless his tone-deaf heart.) It was Anne Hathaway’s haunting performance as Fantine that set me off. Before that movie, I never really liked Anne Hathaway, and I’m not even sure why. She just bugged me, especially with her constant Bambi scurrying in The Devil Wears Prada. But in that moment, I proudly crossed over to Team Hath.
In Les Mis, Fantine falls on such hard times that to support her daughter she has to sell her body. Then some of her teeth. And then all of her hair. Uh-oh…even writing this is making me well up again!
Hathaway won a Best Supporting Actress for the role. And to put that in context, she was in the movie for less than 30 minutes. But that’s ok – she only needed five minutes to sing I Dreamed a Dream and make cinema-goers all over the world howl in heartfelt sympathy.
Not since Ellen Ripley in Alien 3 (soon, soon!) have we seen such a formidable on-screen bald character. I’m talking about Charlize Theron’s Furiosa – the star of the most recent Mad Max offering. Without her, poor Max Rockatansky would’ve been War Boy wheel fodder before the film even got going!
A little emphasis, if I may. In a film called “Mad Max”, starring a very charismatic Tom Hardy as a very handsome Mad Max, it’s still Charlize Theron’s Furiosa who commands the screen – in every scene she’s in.
Now, Theron’s acting chops have a lot to do with this – but her fierce, shaven, motor oil-covered head plays a significant role, too. Oh sure, the metal arm helps. But it’s mainly the shaven head.
“It’s the most freeing thing, I highly recommend it,” Charlize said on the Oscars red carpet. “I think every woman should do it.”
Of course, not all of us want such “freedom” and would choose otherwise if we could…but I get what she’s saying!
Furiosa fans can look forward to her return in not just one, but TWO Mad Max sequels…and potentially, a standalone movie, too. Oh, what a day! What a lovely day!
Top Tip: If you’re a bald lady, Furiosa is a fun – and easy – Halloween costume to achieve. #goals
Can you put a price tag on confidence? Nope! “Price Tag” singer Jessie J gallantly had her trademark dark bob shaved off live on TV to raise money for the annual Comic Relief fundraiser in 2013. In doing so, she raised over £500,000 for a truly great cause – and, if you watch the video, you’ll see how amazing it looked! Good on ya, Jessie!
Instead of growing it back right away, she kept the look going for a few months, explaining:
“There’s no point shaving your head for charity if you’re going to grow it back the next day!”
In fact, The Voice UK judge liked the freedom of the bald look so much, she’s gone for the chop time and time again in the years since.
Oh, and if you’re sitting there thinking to yourself, “I haven’t seen Jessie J in a while”, it could be because you don’t live in China – where she recently took part in, and won, a televised singing competition that’s aptly called Singer.
Black Panther is a special film for many reasons. Its portrayal of strong women – and strong bald women in particular – is just one part of that. But since I’m a bald woman, that’s the part I’m gonna focus on. No surprises there.
Danai Gurira is a Zimbabwean-American actor and playwright, famous for her role as Michonne in The Walking Dead and her place in the Marvel Universe. In Black Panther, her character Okoye is the leader of the fearless Dora Milaje, a special forces team of kickass bald women who represent the fictional country of Wakanda. One of the many reasons I admire Okoye is because her loyalty to her country and her position comes first – even if it means putting her husband and his collection of battle rhinos in their place.
In one of her most badass scenes, Gurira’s character has to disguise herself under a wig. When shit inevitably kicks off and the fighting begins, she grabs her wig and uses it as a projectile weapon.
I can’t believe I never thought of this move back when I was wearing wigs, before I shaved my head. If only Black Panther had come out 4 or 5 years earlier. I would’ve been flinging the thing at everyone!
With regard to her character’s style, Guira says:
“She doesn’t take to the conventions of how the rest of the world says a woman should wear her hair, for instance… But she also always has a big red lip on, a lot of lash – without ever compromising her philosophy. She lives contentedly within both.”
I love this. That we can be bold, brave, bald, fierce…and feminine. You go, Gurira!
I’ll admit something controversial here: I didn’t find Alien scary. I just didn’t. And I’m a scaredy-cat. I get freaked out by my own shadow at least 3 or 4 times a week! But slimy space aliens (or “xenomorphs”, as Mr Alopecia would nerdily correct me), just ain’t scary. Sorry, folks.
Still, that’s not to say I don’t appreciate how much of a badass that Sigourney Weaver is in those films. Her character, Ripley, may be one of the baddest badasses of all time. And while Alien 3 isn’t the best of the lot, Weaver’s shaven-headed look (which helps Ripley blend in with the other inmates on a prison planet) is certainly becoming.
Back in 1992, shaving your head for a role just wasn’t something that A-list actresses did. Shaving other parts for roles – like Sharon Stone did for Basic Instinct – was almost less shocking.
So when Weaver buzzed off her fabulous curls for the part it caused a real stir, and she gotta whole lotta street cred for the move. So it wasn’t long until other actresses were following suit. (If it weren’t for Alien 3, do you really think Demi Moore would have seen the attraction of shedding strands for G.I. Jane? Me neither.)
Plus, as we’ve seen from the list above, while shaving hair for roles isn’t exactly commonplace nowadays, it does happen fairly often. And Weaver started the trend.
In at a very respectable #4, Ripley is one of my favourite bald female characters in film and TV.
Cleopatra, for whatever reason, is widely accepted to be what Mr Alopecia would call “a hottie from history”. She’s been played by some of the most beautiful stars Hollywood has ever seen, including Vivian Leigh and Elizabeth Taylor.
Plus, she managed to bag two very eligible Roman suitors: Julius Caesar, then Mark Antony.
I get the feeling ol’ Cleo was a bit of a minx. Apparently to get around her Pharoah brother’s ban on meeting Julias Caesar, she had herself wrapped in a carpet, butt-naked, and was snuck into his room after dark. After which, presumably, she rolled out before his surprised and delighted Roman sandals.
I don’t know how much truth lies in that story, but I like it. You gotta respect a girl who gets creative with ways to nab her man!
What very few people know (apart from Ancient Egypt nerds) is that Cleopatra was bald. She shaved all her hair, head and body. (So, for that matter, did most Egyptians at the time. Men, women and children, all of them with self-inflicted Alopecia Universalis.)
You see, Ancient Egyptians believed hair to be unclean and uncivilised and preferred to shave themselves bare, donning an elaborate wig from their collection instead.
Now, obviously we’ve no idea what Cleo actually looked like – but I’ll hazard a guess that she rocked the fuck out of that bald head. Walk Like An Eygptian? How about Strut Like An Alopecian?!
In case you aren’t a regular visitor to this site and don’t already know about my love of music festivals and fancy dress, let me tell you: I adore both! And one of my all-time icons is Grace Jones. In fact, I think if it wasn’t for seeing Mrs Jones in the flesh – and lots of it – Lady Alopecia would never have been born.
Back in 2015, myself and Mr Alopecia stood in a field in Ireland alongside a few thousand other revellers, transfixed as Jones, wearing only white tribal body paint and a trailing headpiece of metal spikes, stalked across the stage. (Believe me, if I looked like Grace did at 67, I’d go topless for my gigs, too!)
The secret to her eternal youth and vigour? A lot of oysters, apparently. Bottoms up!
Grace Jones is a force of nature. She has her own badass style and to say she doesn’t give a shit what people think of her must be one of the biggest understatements ever made.
In her autobiography, I’ll Never Write My Memoirs, she admits that shaving her hair not only helped her get ahead in the music world, it helped her, ahem, get satisfaction elsewhere, too. In her own words…
“Shaving my head led directly to my first orgasm”.
And if that isn’t an advert for going bald, ladies, I don’t know what is! Clippers and oysters all round, please.
Ok, I’m Irish, so maybe I’m biased – but my favourite bald woman of all time has to be Sinead O’Connor.
I always assumed that O’Connor shaved her hair because she was a badass and wanted to rebel. (Which she is and which she did.)
But when I read more interviews, I learned that O’Connor’s reasoning wasn’t merely about appearing “rock n’ roll” after all. It was darker than that: she kept her hair short to avert the unwanted attention of men.
Abused growing up, Sinead O’Connor knew the horror of that kind of attention. So when record execs told her to “grow [her] hair really long and wear miniskirts and all that kind of stuff because they reckoned [she’d] look much prettier,” Sinead said fuck that. What did she do next? “I went straight around to the barber and shaved the rest of my hair off.”
She didn’t want success in the music industry to have anything to do with her looks – she wanted it to be based on talent alone. It’s for this honesty and strength that I absolutely love Sinead O’Connor.
Oh, and if you need any more proof of her bravery/badassness, watch this video taken two weeks after she ripped up a photo of the Pope live on Saturday Night Live – to protest the Catholic Church’s history of institutional paedophilia – facing the ire of half of America as a result. After suffering a barrage of “boo”s from 20,000 spectators in Madison Square Gardens she rips out her earpiece and sings “War” a capella as a giant “fuck you”!!!
Not only is Sinead O’Connor the most badass bald woman around, she might just be the most badass woman, too.
Other reasons why I ❤️ her:
Sinead, I’m sure you’ve heard this countless times but truly: nothing compares 2 you!
You mightn’t resonate with all the stars on this list. You might even actively dislike some of them. But all of these ladies have played a positive part for us alopecians and hair lossers.
For one, they’ve made female baldness more visible. For another, they’re helping it to be more accepted. And finally, they’ve shown how much of a beautiful thing it can be.
That’s why I’m so inspired by these famous bald women, the ones who chose to bare it all. They’ve paved the way for a brighter, balder future. Cheers to that.
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Alopecian. Yoga Teacher. Copywriter. Here to share information, offer support and show people the adventures that can lie in hair loss. I’m proud to have alopecia and I want to help others embrace their baldness, too!