Why did I shave my head? It’s becoming more common these days to see a girl on the street or the runway rocking an almost-bald head. Baldies are trending! That makes me super happy, because shaving my head was one of the best experiences I had – an experience that, looking back on it, had a lot of meaning behind it.
So: why did I shave my head? I mentioned it on the offhand a few times to friends, family, & even my S/O. All I got (for the most part) was a confused, a little head shake, or just a blank stare. But that didn’t bother me. I knew why I wanted to do this. It was because I was sick!
Okay, but what does a shaved head have to do with a chronic illness – one that doesn’t make your hair fall out on its own? Why get rid of “all that beautiful hair?”
Simple. Control. I wanted control, &, at the time, couldn’t get what I truly wanted: a tattoo (a special tattoo, by the way). My immune system was quite low at that point in time, thanks to my chemo pills, & after countless fights with my doctor & pleading with my mother, I gave up for the time being. Everyone told me I’d be pushing it to irritate my skin – it was an easy way to get an infection.
Maybe they were right, maybe they were wrong! Maybe I’d have been hospitalized for ink poisoning or gone on with life without so much as a blink. It’s impossible to know, because I respected my mama’s request, my doctor’s advice, & my own gut. I really, really didn’t want to end up in a hospital bed for two weeks becuase I got a tattoo at the wrong time.
I was flicking through Twitter one night & saw a periscope of someone shaving their long bob down to a buzzcut. I was immediately intrigued. This, I thought, was what I needed. To have control, to be able to tell someone “just take it all off!” without worrying about an infection. It was a way for me to own my body, when it so often felt like someone else’s, it helped me blur my own gender identity, & it was super, super, super cute.
I gave this about 5-7 days of thought. Then, one day, I drove up to Supercuts, slapped down $15 & left with a 3″ shaved head.
The woman buzzing me looked scared – probably because she thought I wouldn’t like it. She was wrong. I got into my car unable to stop smiling as I drove home.
I took a walk that night. I felt super free, super powerful, super me. Even though it’s just hair, it gave me this heady sense of control, reminded me who’s the real boss here – no matter what meds I’m on or what illnesses I have.
Also, if we’re being completely honest…it was around the time I became quite sad & depressed that I shaved my head. I joke & say I “did a Britney” but it’s only half a joke. Mental illness, frustration with certain situations, & body dysmorphia are just a few reasons why many women choose to shave their heads. Some do it for the fun & the power. Others do it for control. Some do it for a little bit of both. I was the latter!
I started playing around with makeup more. I felt more assertive – again, I felt freer. I was rid of something. It was a great concept to know that I was starting fresh, in a way.
What did other people think of it? Some were not huge fans. Even some people very close to me were not huge fans. Some were even upset. I was never angry about that. People have their reasons & sometimes it really is more than “just a haircut” to some. But I didn’t really…care. This was something I did for me, for me only – & I was loving it.
So…yes, I was starting to spiral down a path of depression & increased anxiety. That haircut didn’t make that better. But it was a way for me to express myself during a time when I couldn’t do much like that. Tattoos? Piercings? Not over my parents’ dead bodies (at the time).
Yeah! It made me angry that I couldn’t do these things. But I experienced so many amazing things with my bald head. Showering? Two minutes. Haircare? Who? Taking a walk & feeling the wind run through my bristles? Amazing. Rubbing the top of my own head? Velvety-soft, calming, relaxing. Best of all, it gave me a sense of confidence that I previously hadn’t had. It showed me that I could be beautiful no matter what – that I could always find some form of self-expression. I became the “cool girl.” No matter what I wore, it was edgy. That was amazing. It gave me the realization that androgyny…felt super cool. I found out I could wear no makeup, a baseball cap, & jeans, or, I could put on a full face, a body suit, & heels, & feel feminine – but with another force behind that. Feminine, yes – but powerful. I think I’ll always call myself a woman. But this gave me an idea of what androgny ws
You might ask, do I regret how I looked when I was bald, or when my hair was growing in “awkwardly?” Do I look at pictures of myself from last summer & cringe?
Absolutely not. I regret no part of this experience. I loved the way I looked every single step of the way. Awkward length? Yes, sometimes! But that just gave me more encouragement to be myself, gave me the realization that yes, I can dress up nicely & put on a full face when I want to – but that I can also go bare-faced & bald. Both feel really, really good.
Do I plan on shaving again? Maybe! Right now, I love my hair. It’s been almost a year since I shaved it all off & I am almost at a bob now. I want to keep it this way for a bit.
So: why did I shave my head?
For control, for confidence, for a life lesson in being myself no matter how weird it may be, for self-expression through whichever mediums suited me best – & yes, so I could be that Cool Girl. But, you know – also experiencing a heady rush of “you can do whatever you want.” That feeling was amazing; it was liberating. I hope to experience it again one day.
So – to all the girls/femme people out there who’re considering shaving your head – go for it! It was one of the best “beauty” experiences I’ve ever had. It was low-maintenance, it was cool, & it made me love some part of myself during a time that I didn’t love most of myself.
Will you regret it? Maybe. But I don’t think you will. I think you’ll have an amazing journey, no matter what your reasons for taking all your hair off are.
Life sucks a lot of the time. Do some spontaneous things. Shave your head. See how you like it.
I’ve found that some of the worst times I’ve had have also, in retrospect, been the best. A tattoo, a drastic haircut, a concert – those are memories you’ll have with you for the rest of your life. They’ll help you look at past negative situations in a more positive manner.
& remember…hair always grows back.