I don’t think it’s the norm for Cost Cutters to hear from a female with shoulder-length hair, “I want you to shave all of this off.” The hairdresser looked at me and raised her eyebrows. “All of it? Really?” “Really.” “Okay, are you sure?”
No, I’m thinking. What if this is a terrible horrible idea? What if I have a fat neck and a weird skull dent and I look like an ugly man with boobs?
I sat in the chair, she got the cape on, and then helped another customer. I stared in the mirror, nerves setting in. It wasn’t like this was a spur-of-the-moment decision. I’d been musing back and forth about shaving my head since this summer. But now that I was in the chair, was I really going to do this? It grows back, sure, but what if the growing back was terrible and awkward? “I’m actually really nervous now,” I said when she came back.
“I’m nervous!” she said. “My hands are shaking!”
The hairdresser and the man in the chair next to me are looking over in interest. She starts buzzing and I grin and bite my lip. Hair starts falling.
It was weird watching it go, but I’ve never loved my hair to death. It’s always been thin, but in the fall I got so stressed with student teaching and life-after-canoe-guiding that it started thinning even more. It’s a dull color in the winter, looking limp when it’s down and skinny when it’s up. And, I realized, once it was gone, that I felt a million times happier without it.
I was grinning ear to ear when she was done. I almost teared up with how gorgeous and, surprisingly, feminine I felt. More gorgeous than I ever had. It was like I’d had the past years of awkward growing up buzzed off. I got out of the chair and stepped over strands of thin hair that felt like every single time I’d hidden myself or tried to be something that I’m not. I felt genuine and beautiful and right, finally.
That seems really ridiculous to suggest that one stupid haircut gave me a whole personal revelation, but it’s true. I drove home with the car windows down, the wind ruffling through my 1/4″ hair. It’s funny. Whenever I would tell someone, “I want to shave my head,” most of them would say, “Ooooh, please don’t.” Which I interpreted to mean that I didn’t have the face for it. Yeah, I don’t have the swanlike neck or willowy features of Natalie Portman. Maybe it was a bad idea. So this comment always gave me pause and I’d end up getting a wild and crazy trim instead. Maybe throw in some layers if I was feeling rebellious.
The other response was, “If you do, people will think you’re a cancer patient.” I feel like the opposite of a cancer patient right now. I feel strong and more alive than I have in forever. And gorgeous. My hair was the sickly-looking thing. Not my face.
The people who said, “DO IT” were, consistently, women who had shaved their heads before. They get it, I think. They could relate to the feeling of lightness when it was gone, of purity. A fresh start. A simple aesthetic. All things that I needed and craved, and I didn’t realize how much so until I finally got it and I felt elated.
The point is, I hope this becomes more than just a haircut. I want this to be a fresh start for everything else, not just my scalp. And I can feel how cliched this all sounds. Whatever. I fucking love my skull right now.
….Also, my parents haven’t seen it yet. This’ll be fun.