Through the pain, hurt and anger that has boiled up from the country’s latest school shooting, Emma González is one of the teen survivors emerging as a figurehead of resistance. In the aftermath of the attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., the 18-year-old senior has given emotional and seething public speeches condemning politicians for their complacency toward gun violence.
With her face splashed across news outlets covering the shooting, it’s been hard not to notice González and one of her most distinguishing physical features: her buzzed head.
While rallying for legislation that will end gun violence, González has faced a few questions about her hair.
Girl Nation teaches girls many different ways to empower themselves and one of them is to speak up and be brave. Emma Gonzalez, senior from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is speaking up loudly about gun control and the mass shooting last week. You might have a different political view, but you can’t deny her courage. She is a young woman brave enough to SPEAK UP and say the hard things and fight for our world to be better! Bravo Emma. Tag a brave girl who speaks up ✌????#girlpower #strongwomen #empoweringwomen #Girl Nation #emmagonzalez #speakup
With reports of González’s role as her school’s Gay-Straight Alliance president and her display of outrage toward politicians, it was easy for many to assume her shaved head was a direct symbol of her feminism. But it turns out the teen’s reasoning behind her close shave is actually about being practical in her own skin.
“People asked me, ‘Are you taking a feminist stand’? No, I wasn’t. It’s Florida. Hair is just an extra sweater I’m forced to wear,” González told the Sun Sentinal in an interview.
Of course, even while the emerging activist might not have shaved her head for political reasons, it’s easy to recognize her shave as a completely feminist act. After all, a massive part of the feminist agenda is self-autonomy. In a society where women’s hair plays a huge factor in how people judge us, it’s invigorating to see a teenager opt to weigh the importance of her own comfort over the opinions of others.
It’s not the first time González has been asked questions about her hair.
“I decided to cut my hair because it was a pain in the neck, if you’ll forgive the pun. It was really hot all the time; it was very cumbersome and very heavy, leading to a lot of headaches. It was expensive to keep it up, and as prom time came around, I figured it would be cheaper to not have to worry about doing my hair. The more my parents said no, the more I wanted it. Actually, I even made a powerpoint in order to convince them that I should do it. I figured I would look really good with it, and I do. So, it all worked out fine.”
A month before her school was rocked by the tragic actions of a shooter, González posed for a photo with her school’s Instagram account, Humans of MSD. The post includes a caption that highlights the teen’s determination to get her hair cut for the sake of her own comfort, even when she was deterred. “The more my parents said no, the more I wanted it. Actually, I even made a powerpoint in order to convince them that I should do it. I figured I would look really good with it, and I do. So, it all worked out fine,” she told the account.
Here’s hoping González can use her down-to-earth sensibility to further the fight for practical gun control legislation.