Like many black women, Nell Coleman has embarked on a journey towards finding complete self acceptance. For the Little Rock, Arkansas native, this life altering process included making a decision on how she wants to present herself to the world. Coleman found part of her refuge in going bald. Soon after she experienced ultimate big chop she decided to create The B.A.L.D.I.E. Movement. The collective is designed as a haven for other bald women, whether they are hairless by choice or due to an illness such as cancer or alopecia. In her latest photo series titled, Hair Doesn’t Define Me, Coleman models alongside four other women who share their struggles around losing their hair.
I caught up with Nell to find out what inspired her to start The B.A.L.D.I.E. Movement and what she has planned for it in the future.
What exactly is The Baldie Movement, what inspired you to start it, and why are you bald?
The Baldie Movement is designed to celebrate, support, and empower women to love themselves more without the need of hair through photos, story telling, campaign projects, and meet ups. The movement derived from my past struggle of self love and self acceptance that I lacked due to the bullying I encountered from my peers. While on this journey to love and accept me more, I removed my hair in January 2010 to prove to myself that I no longer needed to fit in in order to be the beautiful person I am today.
How does it feel to be a bald black woman or a bald woman in general?
Being a black woman is by far the most extraordinary experience within itself alone. From the benefits of being deeply melanated, to the strength and power my skin holds, to the admiration in people’s eyes when they witness a beautiful black women from the inside out. Being a black woman can be quite scary sometimes as well. The stereotypes that are held over our heads are just outrageous and to add baldness on top of blackness doesn’t make it any better but I stand firm in my blackness, my baldness, and I embrace every bit of it from the crown of my head to my beautiful black feet. Being a Bald woman is by far the most liberating feeling in the world. To wake up every morning without depending on hair to feel or look my best is like a breath of fresh cool morning air.
Describe one of the most inspiring, touching, or interesting stories of the women who’ve become a part of the movement. Who’s your favorite “baldie” woman so far?
All of the stories I’ve received which can be reviewed at TheBaldieMovement.com are all very unique and powerful in their own way. I always say, behind every bald head is a powerful story, one worth changing someone else’s life. There are so many bald women who support this movement and what I stand for, and for that I am forever grateful. The story that does indeed stand out to me the most is the one shared by Danielle Chin, mother of Madison Chin who is bald due to Alopecia. At the time when I received Madison’s story she was only 5 years old and rocking her baldness with so much pride, it was crazy. I spent Christmas with her and her family December 2015 and I remember her saying, “Look mom, she looks just like me.” She’s such a beautiful girl with such a beautiful spirit and my hopes for her will be that she continues to be her beautiful fearless self with alopecia. With a mother like Danielle, I am sure she will grow up to become a very confident bald beauty.
When you’re not running The Baldie Movement, what are you usually doing?
When I am not running The Baldie Movement I am reading my favorite book, Think and Grow Rich (The Black Choice). This is my second time reading this amazing book. I am also a promotional model and brand ambassador which is a really fun job. I am hired to represent brands at events and sometimes I am hired as the team leader to manage the staff working that event for the day which gives me the ability to advance my skills as a leader.
What is your ultimate goal for this project and where do you see it going in a few years?
I look forward to aligning myself with huge brands such as Dove, Sephora, Clinique, Allure, Elf Cosmetics, Bevel, Essie, Macy’s and even smaller local brands here in New York City to create campaigns that help our baldies to be confident in who they are and to embrace their baldness more. I desire to become a photographer and blogger who uses The Baldie Movement as a platform to travel the world, connecting with many beautiful bald women and children, photographing them, and sharing their stories through the eyes of a bald woman or child in today’s society. There’s so much more I have in store for this movement but I don’t want to speak too soon on it so Stay Tuned. 😉