Here we are again. I’m bald! History truly does repeat itself.
“Why’d you do it again?” Okay. Well…I had another post all ready to go about shaving my head & how the experience was & how I did it. I didn’t really plan on doing it again so soon (though I knew I would again sometime in the future).
Here’s some backstory on why I shaved my head in the first place (about a year ago: late June of 2016): I really, really wanted a tattoo. I wanted a tattoo so badly!! (side not: stay tuned for a post about my tattoo experience) Thanks to my medications that suppressed my immune system, however (making it difficult to fight off infections), my doctor & my mother (especially my mother) told me to wait. Tattoos don’t have to come now, I was told. Tattoos could wait.
It’s not like I didn’t understand why it would have been unsafe to get a tattoo at that time – I “got it.” But…I was angry that my illness was making it harder for me to do things that I wanted to do. This is just one of many things that is a constant annoyance for me. Yeah, not being able to get a tattoo at that time was super frustrating & I was very mad & sad about it…but it was also the perfect reminder that my illness was stopping me from doing things that others could go about doing without even blinking. Yes, it was just a tattoo…but it was also symbolizing all the other things I couldn’t do without first checking in with my doctor to make sure it was safe. Mostly, the answers to these questions would be “no” or “not yet.” I was a teenager who lived in the moment…so, I did not want to wait.
I kept griping about the tattoo, kept getting blood draws to check my white blood cell count…but nothing. I continued to be grumpy. I was sad about it. Worst of all, I felt helpless & out of control. Like I mentioned before, my illness so often dictates my behavior. That makes me crave (positive!) control when I’m able to get it.
So, June of last year, I was scrolling through my Instagram discover page & started seeing a lot of models – even high fashion ones! – with shaved heads. It immediately clicked for me: this was something I could do to show myself & others that this was still my body & that I still had some control. Plus…it looked really, really, really cool.
Not long after, I grabbed $15, headed to the closest Supercuts, & told the girl to “take it all off.” I got a lot of adrenaline. I got a bit nervous. But did I have second thoughts? Nope!!! As soon as I felt clippers on my head I felt lighter; more carefree. It was amazing.
A few months later, I checked my blood results & saw that…my counts were high enough to get my tattoo! Of course, I did it ASAP – also something I have no buyer’s remorse over. I started to just let my hair grow (without trimming it or stressing over it) & even got one more tattoo.
In terms of health, I’ve been in quite a bad condition since March – even before. In addition, I was diagnosed with inflammatory arthritis related to my Crohn’s Disease – something that took away my first & foremost dream: to finish a degree in violin performance & go on to be a professional musician.
That dream was yanked from my hands (read my piece about it here if you have further interest!), & I was heartbroken about it. It is probably the largest, most important thing that my illness has taken away from me. I stopped playing in April, once my semester was over, & slowly but surely began to feel lost, unlike myself, unsure of my future, & a whole lot of other things. None of them were good.
A straw broke the camel’s back this past week. I had 3 appointments with 3 different doctors – & I got some very frightening news from one. I was reminded by this doctor that “Crohn’s has taken everything from you” (no shit!) & that she, the doctor, would make it better if I would listen to the frightening & overwhelming advice she hit me with.
I cried all the way home; I got into a screaming match with my mother. I was in quite a state. I felt like yet again, I’d had my own life & body yanked from my hands…by both my illness & by the way my doctor presented me with options. I felt empty again. I felt sad. I felt scared. Sounds familiar.
So, once more, I grabbed $15, went to my local Supercuts, & shaved my almost-bob-length hair down to a 2”. It was like I could feel stress, worry, & sadness melting away from me – dropping to the ground like my strands of hair. I left feeling worlds better. Did I forget the stress of the previous days? Of course not. I did, however, feel less stressed about the previous days.
Again – it was like I was telling the world: “Hey!!!! This is me! This is my body, my hair, & my illness. I can do what I like.”
That seems unrealistic, but honestly, it’s true. I could stop taking medications tomorrow. I could get a tattoo whenever I wanted. I could eat the foods that aren’t healthy for my digestion. I could do all of that. I might become more ill because of that behavior, but I could do it if I wanted to.
Knowing that, & rubbing my hand over my velvety-soft head, I started to feel calmer. I could think with clarity. I started approaching my situation with a more objective, rational mindset. All in all, the feeling of control I got from buzzing my head reminded me that, no matter what, I hold the reins.
That’s some pretty heavy stuff! However, shaving my head isn’t entirely because of my health situation. Although I did it because I felt frustrated by the lack of control I possessed, once I shaved my head, I also started to enjoy how it made me feel, how it encouraged me to stop stressing over the way I choose to label myself (I just say I’m LGBT!), & how it allowed me to play around with makeup & clothing in new, experimental ways. It changed my style, & it even changed my demeanor. I loved it. I feel the same way this time around.
So: I’ll always feel helpless in some situations, thanks to my illness…but I’ll also always have the option to express my frustration, my anger, my sadness, my joy – any emotion! – with my hair. Because it’s hair. It doesn’t hurt or help me. It’s just hair.
You might ask if people judged me, called me ugly, or something along those lines. The answer? I was asked a couple times: “did you do a Britney?”
…Maybe? Britney Spears shaved her head when she was in a bad mental place. I would guess she craved control, too. I don’t really have the answer to that – but I can say that both times that I’ve shaved my head, I, too, was in a stressful mental (& physical) situation. I did it to release, & I have had no regret over how my release turned out.
My family was a little confused, but they came to understand. I got some rude anons in my inbox (who doesn’t), I got some double takes from people I passed on the street, & I was called “sir” a few times. None of that bothered me. I felt free, I felt like myself – & I had some control.
It’s just hair, & it also is more than hair. My hair, or lack thereof, is a reminder that ultimately, this is my body, my choice. I call the shots. Whether the result of the shots I call are harmful is my business, & no one else’s.
I have a lot of decisions to make in the next few weeks (even days). Right now, though, I’m living in the moment, content with the fact that I could go out & do something dramatic, expressive, & liberating without having to worry about how my body would react to it.
Bald Sof is Sof at her most vulnerable, most emotional, most confident. “But you looked so pretty with all that hair!” Guess what: I did! I also look very pretty without “all that hair.” Hair isn’t what defines my beauty – it’s how I express myself, how I behave towards others, how I can lift up & support my friends & family, & so much more. Buzzing my head makes me feel most like myself. It even makes me feel like no matter what, I will always have my body, my emotions, & my mind. If it takes me being bald (& beautiful!) to feel this way…I’ll do it until the day I die.
Oh! & I made a YouTube video about this topic that sort of goes with this post – it also talks about why I shaved my head, & how it makes me feel. Perfect for all you lovely people who like to snack while watching YouTube & going 1000 feet deep at 3 a.m. You know. Check it out here!