Hair. Oh, the hair. I’ve been having some issues with mine lately due to my physical health – things like having it falling out in record amounts and even getting patchy underneath. It’s not as visible to anyone who doesn’t know me well but it’s annoying to me. Recently I cut nearly a foot of my hair. Nay, CHOPPED it off – myself, in my bathroom, with the man’s scissors. Hair that once sat just near my lower back now sits just above my shoulders. It was a test, more than anything. And I am left with the same thoughts as before.
For a very long time I have thought about shaving my head. For a time only the slightest bit less than the amount of time I’ve thought about it, I have wanted to shave my head. I’m talking buzz cut, not slick. But either way – bald is the name of the game. I go back and forth about actually doing it, but I WANT to do it. I’ve come to a time where I’ve really begun to think more seriously about it – to the point that I presented the idea to both the man and the child and they have no opinion at all other than that they want to be involved in the process.
Many years ago I got my hair cut really short. It was buzzed on the back/neck and left a bit longer on the top/sides. I HATED IT. Even though I THOUGHT that I didn’t care what other people thought, I subconsciously did. I hated it because other people told me that it didn’t suit my face, it didn’t fit my jawline, it wasn’t pretty on me…many negative things. I got to a point where I believed that my hair was my only good trait – my hair was my beauty and without it I was nothing if not disgusting. I reached a point where I hated my face. I was SO INSECURE.
At the time, I was 21. I was newly married. I was still in college, driving an hour and a half one way to classes four days a week, spending the other three either studying or trying to figure out how to be a wife and live with someone else (which I hadn’t done for nearly two years before I was married) and struggling to get through the semester with my brain still intact. It was around/during midterms. It was one of the supreme eras of stress in my life (there were a lot of things going on I won’t mention here, for length/time’s sake).
Long story short? I got the haircut for the wrong reasons entirely – only one, really – I did it because I hated my hair. My hair was being difficult on a daily basis, it was not working with me, it was SO THICK back then, and BIG, almost just like the stereotypical (but beautiful) southern female hair you see in Steel Magnolias and other “southern” movies and tv shows. Getting that haircut was one of those throw-your-hands-in-the-air moments in life where you do what feels like the only thing you can do, and in that case what I thought was the only option ended up being a HUGE MISTAKE.
I didn’t want to do it in my heart – I just wanted to get rid of my hair. Others ridiculed me for it, and that hurt, yes – but it wouldn’t have hurt if I was doing it for the right reasons. Well, I suppose it will always hurt for those close to you to judge you but I don’t believe it would have bothered me so much or made such an impact on how I saw myself if I had done it in and with confidence in the first place. The truth is, I didn’t know what I was doing.
Today I am 38 (39 in two weeks) years old and I am a very different person. I have, for all my life, had a good relationship with my hair (aside from the time I just mentioned). I have always loved my long, thick hair. I have always seen it as my best feature – even before the mistake haircut, to be honest… But, I have grown to a place where I have a LONG list of reasons that I have been and continue to think about and want to COMPLETELY shave my head.
The only real reason is this: I WANT TO SHAVE MY HEAD. Ultimately, I want to do it because I want to do it. I am anxious about it because I know the risk – I know the risk because I know what I went through with only a “near shave” all those years ago.I know there are going to be cons. I know that sweat is going to get in my eyes if I don’t wear a hat or something else when I exercise or mow or do things that make you sweat, like just walking outside in the south in the summer is prone to do. I know that it is going to be cold during the winter.
I know that it is going to be a problem for certain religious folk down here where I live in the a-woman’s-hair-is-her-glory Bible Belt. I know it is going to offend certain people who have lost their hair because of sickness rather than choice. I know this because one of those people has already made me well aware of how disrespectful it is for women to shave their heads by choice when other women would give anything to have their hair back and didn’t have a choice in the matter (which I think is completely ridiculous but at the same time I can see where she is coming from).
Those two things I know more than anything. People are GOING to judge me – especially when it’s summertime and my tattoos are visible. People are going to assume things about me, like that I must be sick or have something wrong with me or that I am gay (um, well…). I know that people who already know me are going to just think I’m having a Britney Spears meltdown/mental health moment.
People are going to look at me more than they already do when I go out in public and that DOES NOT appeal to me at all (social anxiety already makes going out almost impossible). The last thing I want to do is draw attention to myself and I know the worst possible thing I can do to cause that to happen is to shave my head. That thought absolutely terrifies me.
But then there’s the thought of dying without doing something I really want to do – something that isn’t really that big of a deal, except the big deal society turns it into. There’s the thought of how I don’t want to be the mom who talks about doing something I really want to do all the time but never doing it and leaving my son thinking that it’s OK to let the fear of what other people might do (stare at you in public, shudder) keep you from doing it.
There’s the thought of how much money and time I will save by not having to buy hair products or dry my hair or straighten my hair. There’s the thought of the bliss of not having my heavy hair on migraine days, or of not having it in my face no matter the fact that I’ve pulled it up or back while I’m exercising or cleaning or doing ANYTHING at all. There’s the thought of wanting to do it with Dorie when she lost her hair and shaved hers during chemo, and her not “allowing it” – something I really wanted to do with and for my friend, as much as for myself…
But now I realize something very real and very important – she did not stand in my way because she didn’t want me to do it. She stood in my way because she knew that I was still not doing it for the right reasons. She knew that afterward I would say, “I did it with and for my friend,” rather than, “I did it just because I wanted to do it. I did it for myself. Got a problem with that?” That almost hurts my heart now. I would have done anything for her, and in my heart I did want to do it for her – and that was her whole problem with it. She knew I was not doing it all for myself, and she wouldn’t allow me to do something that I was not sure was 100% true to me.
But ultimately, there’s the thought of my remaining insecurities and how I want to and am being encouraged by many people to step outside of my comfort zone. To face my fears. To live for ME. To overcome certain anxieties in order to eventually overcome other anxieties and on and on. There’s the thought of looking at myself in the mirror without my “glory” and going, “hey, there you are. Let’s get to know each other – let’s learn to truly love each other.” That is what I want to have happen, and despite the risks and despite the fears (I can’t help but doubt that anybody who says they’re 100% secure the first time they shave their head is telling the truth) I am beyond ready to have that happen within myself.
But am I ready to embrace my own power and do something so drastic with my hair when I can’t seem to embrace my power and drive or go places alone or get beyond certain other issues in my life? I don’t know… Perhaps it could be a start. But will I be brave enough to do what I want to do? I guess we will find out soon enough.
What are your thoughts? Have you ever considered anything like this for yourself? Have you ever done anything that would be considered drastic by society – or at least the society you live in locally? What were your reasons? How did you cope? Let’s chat about it…