On Sat., July 23 at Westlake Center, Bethany Roberts shaved her head.
It wasn't a fashion statement; it was a symbol of solidarity.
By cutting off all of her short, spunky blond hair, Roberts showed her support for victims of genital mutilation, sex trafficking, abuse, inequity, rape, honor killings and maternal mortality.
Four other women and two men joined Roberts in the head-shaving event, dubbed Bald Solidarity.
"What I like about the head shaving is that it challenges Americans' perspective of beauty," Roberts said. "Giving up your hair is a visible statement that my identity is not wrapped up in beauty."
A single mom, Roberts is pursuing concurrent degrees in public administration with a focus on international development, and law school, which will begin in the fall at the University of Washington.
She was inspired to create Bald Solidarity when she watched the film "Water," written and directed by Deepa Mehta. The film depicts a group of young Indian women who become widows, and are forced to shave their heads and leave their homes. They are deemed worthless without their husbands.
Roberts said the film awakened her to global injustice. As an American she had every opportunity to create her destiny, but once she realized other women didn't, she decided to take a stand, she said.
At first she was scared to shave her head, but once Roberts did it she thought, wow, I like this. She felt exhilarated by the sensation of her smooth scalp.
Since she lives in Capitol Hill, she said she fits right in. Others compliment her, and they realize that she takes this seriously.
Roberts created a nonprofit, Bald Solidarity, to collect donations to be distributed to specific
organizations that support human rights. This year, Bald Solidarity sent those donations to UNICEF.
Sarah Richardson, who participated in last year's Bald Solidarity event, said her shaved head helped spark conversations about discrimination against women.
"When others ask you why, you have the opportunity to explain to them the injustice that you are trying to bring attention to," she said. "The more we know, the more we can stand up for."
Tamarack Randall, a board member, said Bald Solidarity encourages people to get involved gradually. They can bring attention to the injustice by shaving their heads and spreading the news by word of mouth.
They can also donate online at baldsolidarity.org or in person at a shave event. Or they can get involved in local organizations, such as Amnesty International, The Girl Effect or UNIFEM.
Local organizations serve as a way that people can get involved even if they can't travel abroad, Randall said.
Roberts began Bald Solidarity with the goal to shave her head for the next five years. Since she had never heard of such discrimination against women until after college, she wanted to work to educate younger generations.
She and her team are doing presentations at local high schools to inform them of injustices against women around the world.
Roberts doesn't encourage high school students to shave their heads, but if their parents support it, she wouldn't stop them. Her goal is to help them think about issues of injustice rather than get them to participate. She wants to help young people become aware of what is going on in the world.