Why I shaved my head bald as a woman
If you search for women who have buzzed all of their hair off, you will see photos of women from many ethnicities, who all look beautiful without their hair. Reading articles about why they did it, and how it impacted their lives is eye opening.
Here are some of the common assumptions that people make about why a woman might shave her head:
- It is a rebellion against traditional beauty standards.
- Suffering from a chronic physical illness.
- Having a mental health breakdown.
- Are a lesbian (often suggested derogatively).
- Attention seeking.
If you shave your head as a woman, you are either sick or part of the outgroup. You're trying to take back control, liberating yourself as though that is something that was taken from you simply by having hair.
The prevalance of these assumptions makes one thing certain, the decision a woman makes to shave her head for the first time is intentional, and marks an intense, pivotal moment in her life.
A pivotal moment is a precise point in time, a big or little moment of clarity that provides us with a new perspective and an opportunity to change our lives.
Pivotal moments are the whole point of the books that we read, the videos we watch or the wisdom we seek from others. We are looking for insights or actions that can disrupt our current habits and change the trajectory of our lives for the better (we hope).
The thing with pivotal moments, is that they are highly context-dependent. The same idea can change a hundred people's lives in a hundred different ways. So while many of those assumptions may be true (minus the negative connotations), they are missing the nuance of experiences that are unique to each of these women.
Shaving my head
Yesterday (10 Dec 2019), I sat down on the floor in front of my mirror with a pair of scissors, listening to "Wild Things" by Alessia Cara on my headphones. I picked up a section of my hair, right at the front, and used the scissors to cut through it near the roots.
I felt a little light-headed. There was adrenaline. It felt a little like shock in a way. I didn't get a huge emotional reaction besides that. So I carried on cutting my hair off section by section. I ran my hand through the short hair on the left side of my head once I had done. It felt impossibly soft, and I started to feel a sense of joy. This was fun.
After cutting my hair really short, I started using a razor because everything was uneven and choppy, but I couldn't reach the back of my head properly.
I messaged my partner and asked him if he was free to call, outside (out of earshot). He called back and I said, "Can you help me finish shaving my head tonight when you get back, I cut my hair off. I asked you to go outside so the people around you wouldn't worry I was having a mental breakdown."
Last night he helped me shave my head properly. He said it was a new experience for him, and that it would be cool to see me experiment with new hairstyles as is grows out, if I decide to do that.
Why did I shave my head?
Yesterday morning, just before it was time to catch the train to work, I was sat in front of the same mirror having just washed and dried my hair. I had straighteners in my hand. I had straighted one section of the underside of my hair, and then the power cut out.
The remainder of my hair was poofy (because of bleach damage). That sounds rediculous, but I couldn't leave the house with my hair like that. I waited for the power to come back on, but it was a scheduled maintainence thing by the council, so it wasn't going to turn back on any time soon.
I couldn't leave my house and go to work like that. I couldn't tie my hair up either because I felt even worse with it up. My poor self-image crippled me to the point where I had to work from home because I couldn't stand the thought of anyone seeing me like that. Logically, I knew it didn't matter in the slightest. No one would care.
As most people who have poor self-image, there is a long history of events that led to this identity. As I was sitting there on the floor after my partner had gone to work. I was horrified by what had just happened, by how much I was holding myself back with this.
I knew that in order to break through my poor self-image issues, I would have to stop caring what people think. I would have to stop comparing myself to every beautiful women I see in every advert, magazine, on instagram and Twitter etc. I would have to learn to love myself.
However, I wasn't willing to wait for my self-talk to slowly get more positive over time. I wanted to find a way to force myself to confront this, and shaving my head was the idea that came to mind.
For months, I had come across videos on YouTube here and there where women had shaved their heads. I thought they were incredible brave, and wished I could do the same, if only I had the face for it.
My poor self-image is because of my face. Having no hair to hide behind would force me to accept myself without it. To start to love my own face that beauty standards have caused me to think is unattractive.
So of the common assumptions why women shave their heads, rebelling against traditional beauty standards is the category I fit best into. Though the superficiality of that statement does not represent my decision fairly.
When I hear that statement, I see a strong, confident and outspoken woman. Perhaps a little aggressive, who doesn't care about what others think, who lives according to her own heart-beat.
Of each of those things, strong and internally confident (apart from self-image) applies to me. In a few weeks, the rest will too.