Shaved Bald: The Politics of Being Outed As A Sex Worker

I’m still not sure to this day why I chose to get my head shaved bald in Midwest winter weather. Nothing, absolutely nothing, feels colder than below zero wind ripping into a freshly shaven scalp for the first time in your young adult life. No, I wasn’t having a quarter life crisis (well…not completely). I actively chose to shave my head. For a healthy compensation from a hair fetishist.

I was working in a commercial dungeon in Chicago as a professional Dominatrix during this time. I had been there a little over a month and was thoroughly enjoying myself. It was my first jump into sex work as a career and sometimes I even got to monopolize on my own kinks. It was exhilarating, introspective, exhausting and one of the most difficult jobs I had ever worked. Some close friends of mine knew what I did. My co-workers of course. But none of my family. And this scared me in a way where I could feel it past my bones, deep down in a place that I never wanted to tread.

When I agreed to shave my head I was honestly focused on the money, but the experience as a whole fascinated me in a dark way that I desperately wanted to explore. I needed to get in the headspace and persona of this fetish. Really attempt to submerge myself in the place where it came from. I saw it as an opportunity to cleanse myself of negativity and start fresh almost. Plus…I was definitely curious what I would look like bald and my hair had a lot of color damage at this point — it happens to the best of us.

I did the session and it still stands out in my mind as dream-like. The fetish was from the perspective of loving something so much that you yearn to destroy it, because everything else fails in comparison. This sounds violent and dominant, but in all actuality the session felt like an eye-opening walk through a feeling that haunts most people. The feeling of not owning up to ‘your potential’ and the fear of stigma associated with letting your guard down.

In the last part of the session, I was supposed to cry while my client began to shave my head. This was after an hour of him complimenting it, brushing it, washing it, and generally hyping up its demise. I cried real tears (partially from a huge sense of relief) but also because I thought “Oh fuck. Now I have to tell my family I’m a sex worker.” I couldn’t think of any reasonable explanation for having my head shaved bald in the middle of winter. I was too emotionally exhausted to construct a lie, and I didn’t want to. So I took the plunge and it was extremely difficult to say the least. There’s of course a generational gap, and explaining ‘Dominatrix’ to your parents can be damn near impossible. Imagine the conversation with your mother after she Googles the term. Then there’s the slut-shaming, the general lack of respect and willingness to not let it define or stigmatize you. This was nothing that was new to me and I wasn’t surprised. We all moved past it, didn’t talk about it, sort of brushed it under the rug. I was more than okay with this and had an interesting Christmas that year where I wore a ridiculous wig. It was lovely.

Fast forward to present day, I work as a cam girl and was planning on waiting to tell my family in person. They were under the impression that I had ‘changed’ and ‘matured’ since retiring from the adult industry. These assumptions create harmful stereotypes that affect women everywhere, sex workers included. I felt the same sinking fear of judgment in the pit of my stomach just like four years before. But in this situation I felt like I had more agency. I was/am significantly happy to be back in the sex work game. This is something I’m passionate about, that allows me to be infinitely creative, help others along the way, and twirl inside of the personas that individuals don’t show anyone else. I have never been ashamed of what I do.

I learned early on that having a cam girl Twitter account is very important for business and making connections with other models. Plus, it’s a super fun world to a part of, and there’s an excellent sense of community and appreciation. This did, however, make me nervous because a) I have NEVER had a Twitter account of any kind and b) it felt somewhat public. I ended up making the account, falling in love a bit, and using it frequently for promotion and other general nonsense. I didn’t think anything of it in a bad way until I was outed to my family.

My aunt is one person whom I had distanced myself from due to her judgmental and generally negative attitude. She prides herself on being very internet savvy, when in reality she is the living embodiment of every middle-aged white woman on Facebook; all of the ignorant things you can imagine, constantly. I couldn’t take it on social media and blocked her a while back. But she had my phone number and knew that phone communication was fine. It just never happened. Using her ‘social media skills’ she silently lurked my cam girl Twitter account for months. Never said a word. And then dropped the bomb to my mother and anyone else who would listen. Ironically, it was exactly one day after I came out about my cam girl work to my sister over the phone. It was an empowering conversation filled with love and encouragement. Of course the way in which my aunt presented this discovery was extremely dramatic and filled with false information. Mostly with statements implying my job was the result of depression, disturbance and bad parenting.

As a feminist, what hurt the most in this moment was the fact that my aunt is a woman. One thing I have learned during my time as a sex worker is the importance of women supporting other women. Sexism is often perpetuated on behalf of sex work,  by both men and women. There is nothing more terrifying to most people than an intelligent, successful woman inverting the patriarchy and profiting off of it. The concept of slut empowerment is hard to explain to people from all walks of life. However, what my aunt should have done in this situation is approach me directly first. It’s legitimate to be concerned for a sex worker’s safety, especially if you don’t understand the line of work besides what mainstream media spews about it. She did not approach me as a concerned family member. She did not approach me at all, actually. Regardless, she choose to focus on one aspect of my work. The visual part, the sexual part, the part that often makes people feel ashamed and intrigued simultaneously. It’s very easy to assume that sex work is anti-feminist in nature. But, I would argue, what IS anti-feminist is as follows:

1.) assuming sex workers are not safe at work

2.) assuming that sex workers are mentally/emotionally disturbed and processing past trauma through the adult industry

3.) assuming that sex workers are strictly fulfilling the ‘male gaze’ with their work

4.) shaming women for making their own adult decisions

My aunt did all of these things. And so have others in my family and in my life generally. And this is something that unfortunately is widespread for a ton of sex workers and women alike. It’s language that we see everywhere from a young age, and it’s ignorant that we live in a culture that sexualizes women in every way fathomable, and then scoffs at adult women who take agency over this as they grow up. To me, at its core, sex work holds a place of power and artistic expression. Sometimes I talk about my day on cam. Sometimes I talk about my favorite books. Sometimes I do sexy stuff. Even crazier, sometimes I do strip teases to the Frozen soundtrack. It’s my life first and foremost, and being a cam girl (like all sex work) is so much more than what’s on the surface. Like any job, there’s good and bad days. Some days are filled with surprises and excitement, others are boring and essentially you talking to your HD webcam incessantly until someone ‘bites.’

Do I wish my aunt would have viewed my work as an opportunity to educate herself and grow as an individual? Of course. Although, the idea of her coming across one of my bratty Mistress tweets (“Fuck you, pay me”) does make me laugh no matter how stressed I want to be about it. But what this outing has given me is the fire to teach as much as I can, so I would thank my aunt personally…if she didn’t block my phone number. It took my pride a bit, but opened the door for me to remind myself (and others) that this is a legitimate job and a respectable one. Fear of the unknown is normal for most in some capacity, but violent judgment of the unknown is far from acceptable. I always tell guys on cam things like, “I’m real. I don’t bite. You can say hello.” The same sentiments go for those who question sex work. Behind the characters I sometimes play, I’m a real person, with a somewhat normal life.

And you know what’s funny? The persona that I have the most success with on cam is pretty much myself, shaved head, loud mouthed, me. I will never be ashamed of that woman. I’ve grown so much as an individual through my sex work journey and no amount of stigma can take that away from me. But I will never shave my head completely bald again. Fuck that shit, Chicago gets far too cold.

4 thoughts on “Shaved Bald: The Politics of Being Outed As A Sex Worker

  1. Love it! I wish my mom would have taken anything but her own feelings into consideration whe
    n she found out I was stripping.

  2. I absolutely feel you on the “shaved head as fresh start” thing. Being in the military, of course there’s the correlation between boot camp and that way of thinking, but I’ve also done it ritualistically, long after being able to grow my hair out by regulation. I’m looking forward to being able to do it again! (it wouldn’t be asthetically pleasing for myself, at the moment)

    However, being from upstate NY, I completely understand the feeling of brisk air on a freshly-shaved head. I kinda like it, but it gets old after…well, a few seconds.

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