Malinda's discussion titled "Spiritual Growth in Hair Loss" got me to thinking about how hair loss is depicted in the sacred texts of different religions.

Given that I am a Christian, I started my research in the Bible; and since I am also a non-alopecian engaged to a female alopecian, I focused most of my attention on what the Bible says about female hair loss in particular. What I found is disconcerting, to say the least.

Given that most, if not all, of the Bible's writings were composed in the context of pre-scientific and patriarchal cultures, it really did not come as a surprise to learn that the Bible does not state one positive thing about female hair loss.

For example, female baldness was understood to be a sign of mourning and/or submission (Deuteronomy 21:10-14) or divine judgment and humiliation brought on by sin (Isaiah 3:16-24; Micah 1:8-16); and one notorious apostle not only bought into the idea that "long hair" is a woman’s "glory," but that it is such "a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off" that she cover her head to conceal the shame (1 Corinthians 11:2-16).

On the other hand, writings in the Bible also make it clear that a head full of hair can enhance a woman's physical appearance (2 Kings 9:30; Song of Solomon 4:1) even if cosmetic enhancements such as the braiding of hair could never reflect or reveal her true inner beauty and submissiveness (1 Timothy 2:9-15; 1 Peter 3:1-6).

No doubt, alopecic and bald women in such ancient pro-hair cultures were subjected to unspeakable ridicule and rejection. Yet, the only time God avenges a bald person in the Bible is in the case a baldheaded male prophet who, "in the name of the Lord," called down a curse of some children who were teasing him, resulting in 42 children being mauled to death by bears (2 Kings 2:23-25)!

Indeed, with few exceptions for males only (e.g., Numbers 6:18-19; 2 Samuel 14:26; Acts 18:18), hair loss in general is depicted as a negative thing that happens only under the worst of circumstances.

That is pretty much what the primary sacred text of the Christian faith says about hair loss in general and my fiancée’s alopecia in particular. Basically, it gives very little positive acknowledgement to baldness or alopecia, champions even a God who keeps count of every hair on our heads (Matthew 10:30; Luke 12:7), and, unfortunately, thus helped to create the pro-hair society and world that we live in today.

What does your religion’s sacred scriptures say about baldness and alopecia? I would love to hear from non-Christians as well as Christians who agree and disagree with my take on the Bible’s hair loss texts.

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Hi, I'm a Christian and I, too, find the scriptures of the Bible disheartening in relationship to Alopecian women and/or bald women. I realize the Bible was written by men and I believe they embellished scripture at times to say how they felt, now how God felt. I know that my "glory" is in my Spirit and not in how much hair is on my head. My Spirit is beautiful and no one can take that away from is mine! I've always had a problem with scripture and it's interpretation of what God may have wanted or may have said, I choose the positive aspects of the Bible and live by them. I've seen more beautiful bald women here on alopeciaworld compared to beautiful women with hair.
Just was looking at groups today and noticed a new one has been started: Christians with Alopecia. Just thought I'd plug it for anyone interested in it. RJ, I thought you'd like to check it out.
This is a really interesting and touchy subject.

I personally do not believe that I am cursed or meant to feel shame about my lack of hair.

rj and I have had this discussion a lot. On still being a Christian, but believe that the Bible may have been slanted by the society of the day. Many things that were acceptable then, are not now and I believe made the world a better place. How a woman was treated or what she was allowed to do brought about the Women’s rights movement, slavery and general mistreatment of human beings that are different bought about the civil rights movement and many more injustices that were later on rectified. I believe that from the beginning God thought that our mistreatment of others was/is wrong and finally we are starting to get it (or are we?).

When I think of instances of Jesus in the New Testament, Jesus interacted, touched and loved what the society “believed” to be the untouchable. I believe that He would sit me down, tell me that I am beautiful just the way He created me.

Unfortunately, I think it is a mirror of how/why people think the way the do about hair loss. It has been inbreed in us to believe that certain things are just not acceptable. Please don’t misread me, I am not saying that it is God, but people make these distinctions on who is “acceptable” and who is not. And I believe these beliefs get woven into every aspect of our lives, including our religions, because we are viewing things from the biased position of the day.
This discussion is not limited to the Bible, but I'm curious as to how BYRDSRAIN and/or Cheryl might reason from the Christian scriptures themselves that God thinks as much of them, despite their alopecia, as they believe God does. What "positive aspects of the Bible" show that God loves alopecic or bald women just as they are?

By the way, Mandy, I noticed the new "Christians With Alopecia" group, but I didn't join because, although I'm a Christian, I don't have alopecia. However, Cheryl's a member. :-)

I am not affiliated to any religious group. I live my live with morality and goodwill towards all those I meet and come into contact with. I know my daughter became aware of what the bible said through christians at her school. They were rude and dogmatic about their opinions being law and tried to undermine my daughters thought processes about herself and her lack of hair. I respect peoples right to have faith but I take umbridge at faith or scriptures being used to persecute or hurt someone. That's the bottom line really isn't it. As always with all writings interpretation is the key. For me what the scriptures say is beyond rubbish in the context to aa.

I grew up with a very religious mother who was brought up in a boarding school with nuns. I went to a catholic school until I was 15. I was ostrasized from my family and had very few friends as a child and these olden views are mostly to blame. Another tale the bible tells is of Sampson and Delilah. Sampson was a strong leader and Delilah found that the stregth of his power came from his hair. She called for a servant to shave his locks. Consequently, God deserted him and he was captured thus suggesting that without hair we are powerless. Long hair is a glory to women because it covers their body according to the Apostle Paul. Even in Greek mythology Medusa's snaky hair was gifted to her by a jealous woman, Athena, for competing with her own beauty. In certain eastern religions people shave their heads during mourning such as the Tibetans and their monks shave their heads as a gesture of renunciation in imitation of the Buddha. It was also a means of keeping critters off their heads. I'll just finish with that before I start babbling and putting my foot in my mouth but I had to share! :)
I wholeheartedly agree with Linsey that merely quoting a couple of verses and ignoring everything else the Bible says about the issue of hair loss simply is an inadequate approach to biblical interpretation. There is a boatload of texts that need to be accounted for and, when they are, one can hardly escape the finding that the Bible’s picture of hair loss in general, and female alopecia in particular, just isn’t a pretty one.

As a “scholar” noted in the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery (1998), “Based on the premise that a full head of hair is the norm of health, vigor and beauty, we find a motif of the ignominy of being without hair.” In other words, it is a running theme in the Bible that the absence of hair -- especially a woman’s hair! -- simply was a cause of humiliation and shame.

In fact, when it comes to physical beauty, the writers of the Bible perpetuate what the modern feminist author Naomi Wolf famously called "the beauty myth" -- i.e., the misguided and metamorphic idea that there is an ideal standard of physical beauty to which people, especially women, should want to conform. As Wolf further notes,

“The beauty myth tells a story: The quality called ‘beauty’ objectively and universally exists. Women must want to embody it and men must want to possess women who embody it… It claims to be about intimacy and sex and life, a celebration of women. It is actually composed of emotional distance, politics, finance, and sexual repression. The beauty myth is not about women at all. It is about men’s institutions and institutional power… In assigning value to women in a vertical hierarchy according to a culturally imposed physical standard, it is an expression of power relations in which women must unnaturally compete for resources that men have appropriated for themselves.”

Accordingly, the patriarchal penmen of the Judeo-Christian scriptures saw God's creation, especially the female part of it, as divided into the pulchritudinous haves and have-nots, with naturally bald or alopecic women necessarily falling into the latter category. This is why there is no -- I repeat: no -- statement in the Bible to effect that all people are physically beautiful in man’s or God’s eyes. Physical beauty was not in the eye of the beholder, but rather in the object or person that one beheld. As we say in our day, either you had “it” or you didn’t. Bald and alopecic women certainly were not thought of as having “it” from a physical standpoint.

Nonetheless, some biblical authors concede that there is separate category or different kind of female "beauty" altogether, which we might be called spiritual beauty or inner beauty (e.g., Proverbs 11:22; Proverbs 31:30; 1 Timothy 2:9-15; 1 Peter 3:1-6). Such “unfading beauty,” as Peter calls it, might be thought to be a “higher” form of beauty, but possessing (or practicing) it serves the same patriarchal purposes as mythical physical beauty. Alas, indeed, this new beauty is merely another means to the age-old, subservient end: Male dominance.
Linsey, it's never my intention to berate anyone, including you. However, I do believe in responding honestly and directly to comments that concern me. I also try to be tactful, which is why it took me a day to respond to you. :-) In the end, I was only trying to make it clear that not all laypersons are merely opinionated and that one's conclusions regarding the Bible's view of hair loss should not be based on an omissive reading of the biblical texts. Now, if I misunderstood what you were trying to say, please feel free to clarify. Given that there are so many different personalities, diverse backgrounds, and communication styles in Alopecia World -- just as there are in the everyday world ;-) -- there's bound to be some misunderstandings. Like you, as well, I welcome even more discussions about God and religion in Alopecia World. :-)
Hi Linsey - rj just posted a reference to my commentary on Leviticus, which describes how I "came out" bald at my synagogue last Saturday. Perhaps you will find it helpful. For what it's worth, I don't think it's accurate to say that the ancient Israelites treated those with leprosy as "garbage" or "sub-human".

Hi jAMrj

Thanks for your great post. I asked my daughter to read through this thread last night and she was so heartened with the explanations you put forth. You have reinforced her understanding of self. Which is what I think this post was about.

This is a wonderful place to learn about what is important and how to be the best person you can be.

Rosy, I'm delighted to hear that my posts had a positive affect on your daughter. The Bible may say thus saith the Lord, but that doesn't always mean that the Lord said thus. ;-)
After reading the above remarks on this discussion, I thought that I would add a few quick comments that I hope will help the discussion and possibly stear us in the right direction... I looked through the texts that iAMrj included in his comments and do agree that the absence of hair is seen in a negative light in these passages. However, I do think that there is a difference between the situations at hand and our situation with alopecia. In Dt 21, a pagan convert shaved her head as a sign of purification from paganism. In Is 3, disobedient Israelites lose everything (including their hair) because of their infidelity to God. In MIcah 1, God tells his people to repent from their sinful ways offering the act of shaving one's head as a sign of their internal conversion. Alopecia is a condition unrelated to God's punishment, to signs of purification, and to signs of repentence. It is merely an element, that God has placed in people's lives, that add to our incredible uniqueness as people... In addition to this, I also disagree that God has contributed to our pro-hair society. In a moral outlook upon the world, we can see that man is far from perfection causing much harm towards others and creating a disordered system of ethics and values. This could not be more opposed to the ultimate perfection of our Creator. In saying this, the values that our culture and the world hold today cannot be put upon God but upon the man himself, who loves to uphold vanity as something of greatest value... I'm far from possessing a full knowledge of scripture but I do feel strongly that if we take scripture as a whole (placing each book and passage together), we end up with a beautiful picture of a God that is incredibly loving and understanding in everything that we might go through in our lives. God Bless.



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