For as long as I can remember (and by that I mean since I was about 15 years old, and as a newborn) I have been told my hair was:
- My defining factor
- The best hair ever
- Making others jealous
- Totally fucking amazeballs
- You get the picture
But anyway - look at those curls! The crazy colors. (I'm sure I'll make posts about my hair's crazy color and what my grandmother is sure is "hair oxidation". Um...sure..we'll go with that.) The volume and length. My hair really was my crowning glory. And, in the modified words of Beyonce, I woke up like that. That's right: I took a shower at night, stretched my wet hair over a jersey cotton pillow and fell asleep. Next morning I pop out of bed and BAM! Curls! Admittedly some days were better than others....but in all honesty, even on the days I kvetched that the curls were lopsided or too kinky or whatever my friends gave me a look of disbelieving disdain. Yeah - that made me shut up and be thankful.
I often heard from people (from best friends to mild acquaintances) that they could discern my back in a crowd from my curly locks. In my sophomore year I decided to decorate my dorm with magazine pages. 95% were curly brunette models. So you can see how my identity was wrapped up in my hair.
And my hair got attention. I was a model for the art department. Whenever I let my hair down the drawing 101 students would spend the whole class trying to draw my tresses rather than my figure. The professor would see this and ask me to pull it up as he gave them a lecture. Strangers would tell me I had beautiful hair. Strange men, especially. Everywhere from a club (an appropriate place to pick somebody up) to a gas station (not an appropriate place to hit on somebody).
So for the most part this seems like I won the hair lottery. And I get that most people wouldn't even dream of changing their hair if it was like mine.
But I'm not most people. I shaved it off. It was pre-meditated; it broke my heart and freed my spirit at the same time.
Why would I do that?
The first time I wanted to shave my head (in college) it was all about being headstrong and being the badass I thought I was. But my ex told me (in the nicest, most manipulative way possible) that he would leave me if I didn't have hair. But he made it into a "I love your hair as a part of you" thing. Not a "I can't date a headstrong woman who goes against my views" thing - which it was. What's up, HUGE RED FLAG? So fast forward 3.5 years: When were breaking up I started considering it again.
It was at that point that my family interceded:
My mother became hysterical. She said I had to tell my grandmother. (later she got into it)
My grandmother told me I was crying out for control and if anybody helped me shave my head they were exerting dominance over me. She told my grandfather and my aunt.
My grandfather told me I would be stupidly cutting off one of my greatest assets.
My aunt told me about how much she hated when she cut off her hair. And asked me not to do it until after her son's graduation (for family photos).
My father wasn't concerned as long as it made me happy.
I asked my boss if it would be professional. She said it was fine. Then somebody from work told me I'd be setting my career back, with the loveliest sneer gracing her face.
My friends were pretty supportive. They ranged from initial shock ("Why would you do that?!") to wanting to do it with me or expressing their desire to be so bold.
How my suitors felt I'll include in many posts. The reactions were varied - I'm sure they'll continue to be.
But back to my reasons:
It's easy to point out that I wanted to get rid of my relationship to the point of removing the hair I grew when we were together. But that's just frosting on this cake of ridiculous reasons.
Two of my reasons for cutting my hair have to do with beauty and are contradictory. On the one hand I wanted desperately to know that my hair wasn’t the reason I was beautiful - I didn't want it to be my crutch. I wanted to know that my face could hold its own. And I became convinced that being beautiful without hair was the real measure of extraordinary beauty - the kind I aspired to. On the other hand, I wanted my hair to be the reason I was beautiful. I wanted less attention and to be less attractive to others. I thought if I cut off my big beautiful mass of hair I would be more average, less notorious. Moreover, I wanted to extricate myself from the standards of female beauty and have an exterior that didn't leave people exclaiming "YOU?!" when I described my winning a bar fight or using a nail gun.
I was identifying too strongly with my hair. I wanted to find out the other parts of me I had been hiding with my hair. And I wanted a new identity - sometimes to rebuild you have to tear down. I tend to think of my hair as a possession or something I created – not a part of my body. But, then again, there aren’t many parts of my body I could excise with so few ramifications.
I wanted to experience something else. Who wants to be the old lady who reflects and thinks "I always played it safe with the same tried and true hair style"? And I wanted to try out so many short and mid-length styles. It just seemed that if I started fresh I could get the experiences and when I got back to long hair I'd have a little more life lived well under my belt.
I find new reasons every day but those were my intentions before I made the cut.
To that end this blog is NOT to document the shaving of my head. There's one page on that. The rest is to document the experience. To show everything from my newest hairstyle to how people react to my deep feelings and most importantly my growth as a human being. Growing my hair back out is a journey. I took the plunge and I'm ready to revel in every bit of this chapter in my life.