“Baldie, you a baddie, and I need you to know it,” the voice over the loud speaker begins. “Once you know it, then you need to show it.”
That’s Paula Fontana, the bald beauty rocking a hot pink body con dress, on the mic. She’s a cross between a preacher and a life coach; and the audience—consisting of more than one hundred bald women, also known as “baldies”—is basking in her motivational message. There are hand claps, head nods, and “amens.” Looking around the room, one woman excitedly shouts, “I done died and gone to bald heaven!”
These women have traveled from across the United States, Canada, and even Barbados to convene in Atlanta, Georgia for the second annual Baldie Con. They’ve come for much-needed community and to occupy a space where they’re not subject to looks from strangers, where for once they’re not the only one.
Felicia Flores, a 45-year-old woman of Jamaican descent, started Baldie Con to provide support for women who’ve experienced hair loss. Flores’s personal journey to embracing her bald crown started after she lost her hair in 2005 due to alopecia. She hid for the first ten years, saying “Where there’s a wig, there’s a way!”
But after she spotted model Amber Rose proudly rocking a bald head, Flores saw the power of embracing baldness as a type of counter-cultural beauty. “When I saw her, I was like, that’s a bad mamma! She was just so raw, like what you see is what you get, and I just loved that,” she says. Inspired by this brand of bald femininity, Flores says “I took off the wig and went out in public and I felt free. I was bald and free.”
Flores’s desire to help other women live the same way grew after she joined the Baldie Movement, a support organization for those experiencing baldness, in 2015. There, she met other baldies wanting to live feel free, and the idea for Baldie Con emerged.