It’s a weird thing, hair. I’ve thought about it a lot since shaving mine the first time. The attachment to it. The identity of it. The collective reaction when it’s gone. For a girl who’s been unhealthily obsessed with her wonky hair for life, shaving it seemed like the worst thing that could ever happen. But in the fall of 2016, that’s what I did.
I said I would write about it eventually, back when I posted that first photo on Instagram. That I would share the journey. And I think I’m as ready as I’m going to be.
I’m an extreme person. I’ve been greatly criticized for this and for my impulsive nature. But I’m also a scorpio and if you know anything about that, it’s probably enough to stop there because you’ll be like…oh. Yep.
It started like everything else. I just started noticing things. I started noticing women with shaved heads. Mostly on the internet as I live in rural Kansas where your head is only shaved if you have cancer, most likely. At least, that is the way people here look at me when I grocery shop with my beanie off. Hard to make eye contact. I shot a wedding right after the first time I shaved it and the bridesmaids were appalled that I would do such a thing. Their gasps and tone of voice said everything as I whipped my beanie off to show them. There was some encouragement, of the placating variety once I explained that I didn’t owe anyone pretty. The “Good For You” when a mentally ill person says they’ve finally gotten out of their house for the first time in months. Dripping with slightly veiled pity.
But that is Kansas for you. Most people here don’t realize shaving one’s head can actually be a fierce fashion choice. Initially, that is not why I did it. I knew I’d likely hate the way I looked. I stood in front of the mirror that night with the clippers for a good 45 minutes before I could bring myself to do it. My hair wasn’t long. I’d been wearing various pixie cuts for a couple years. But still. Terrifying. I was shaking and felt like I would vomit. But I knew, as we sometimes do, when something is right and we have to do it. There’s no turning back. Or changing our minds. Or putting it off. Something deep inside was driving me and it wasn’t insanity. Or maybe it was. You can decide, I guess.
But I didn’t feel insane. I felt like I was standing on a precipice of change and this was the doorway.
I shaved it all off and the shaving felt good. Really good. The more I shaved, the better I felt. It was like a drug. I got a little high afterward. Felt amazing. I didn’t necessarily love how I looked but I felt emboldened in my choice to stick it to the man and say goodbye to hair that kept me attached to some notion of only being beautiful with it on my head.
I did it to detach. To push and expand my perspective of myself. I did it for the same reason I take unflattering self portraits…to see myself differently, no matter how painful it might be. Like I said, I’m hardcore. I have a strange need to shift my own perspective of everything. To dig and dig until I find the truth of it. And the truth of who we are is buried so deep under layers of bullshit that we’ve been told by parents, family, society…who’s to say what the truth is.
You can’t depend on other people. They see you how they see you because of their own layers of experience. Occasionally, you’ll find some people who, at the very least, will encourage you in that pursuit of truth. At least, I have. I’m very fortunate to have my handful of loves who remind me that hair means very little to my personhood. To my worthiness. Occasionally, people will say rude things too, whether they mean to or not, like: has anyone told you that you look like Eminem?
Those kinds of things never leave your head, but people will be people. And you have to own your choices no matter what.
After that first shave, I thought that would be it. I would now let it grow and proceed with this journey of discovery. And the journey was hard. I was also going through a huge personal transition and 2016 was kicking my ass in so many ways. I didn’t have my hair to make me feel better. It was growing out and looking weird. I was looking weird. My confidence plummeted and then I would have a day where I fucking loved who I saw in the mirror, despite my weird head shape. It was an unveiling of myself unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. There was nowhere to hide.
About 3 months into it, it had grown fast. I started to get an itch. To shave it again. Even more this time. I was appalled that I would crave such a thing after enduring all that self hate that ensued before. Was I actually mentally unstable? There was something calling to me that made me crave to be sleek. I pinned a ton of shaved head women on Pinterest, admiring their sleekness. Their alien-like heads. I loved the way the shaved head felt under my hand. Aside from what I saw in the mirror, I loved being unencumbered by hair and the need to constantly decide what I would do with it next.
I realized that no matter what length my hair had ever been, that there were days I hated looking in the mirror and days I loved that weird face looking back at me. I began to drop into a state of knowing about myself that I could be as weird as I wanted. That I wasn’t going to ever, ever look like what the world calls beautiful….and therein lies my beauty. In my otherness. My alien-ness.
But I couldn’t bring myself to shave it again. The deep fear of being ugly had it’s grip on me.
Until a man, a long-time acquaintance, out of the blue, messaged me and confessed: I always thought you were beautiful, but when you shaved your head, it made me catch my breath.
He had no idea of the inner struggle I had been dealing with during that time. And just like that, I knew. And I shaved it again.
And last night, I shaved it yet again. Closer than I have yet. Maybe I have some weird need, like biting off my fingernails. I really don’t know. But when it’s shaved super close to my head, I just feel powerful. I feel Other. I feel like Me. I feel like Fuck You, this is my head and I’ll fucking do what I want because I owe this shit world absolutely nothing. It’s really just the bullshit construct we live in that makes it so weird. As an empath, I can feel how uncomfortable it makes people. When someone just says, “Oh, that’s short,” I know they don’t have anything nice to say, so they say that. I don’t need their nice comments.
I am still human, so I do depend on my true friends to remind me that I’m beautiful. And the really good ones say, You DO look beautiful and sexy…but you also look beautiful and sexy no matter what. As much as I’d like to be completely detached from my physical appearance at times, I’m also a woman and want to be desired and gazed upon.
I didn’t do it to be sexy the first time. But after three times, I can honestly say, I feel sexy as hell, in this moment. And fierce. And so so witchy. And like Carrie.