Today, I shaved my head completely for the first time.
I’ve played around with short hairstyles for a while now. I’ve even shaved bits and pieces of my hair—side shaves, mohawks, but this was my first time going completely bald, although it’s always been something I’ve been curious to do. Ever since I was little, when I first saw Sinead O’Connor, I always wondered if it was something that would look good on me. And today, I decided to just do it.
And when I first looked at myself in the mirror, I cried.
I think a lot of women would have that reaction. A lot of women would refuse to shave their heads in the first place. As women, we tend to rely on our hair quite a bit.
I still remember the days of having long hair and getting upset when the hairdresser cut off too much, thinking that it made me uglier or whatever. And, from what I understand, this isn’t a rare occurrence.
Admit it, women: don’t the majority of us relate to Samson, as we think our strength is in our hair?
Women are often made to feel their beauty and their femininity is in their hair. They’re told that if they cut their hair, then they’ll look too boyish, or too masculine, or not pretty enough. So women cling to their hair like a lifeline—as their symbol of beauty and femininity in a society that values this above all else in women.
I did this too. Until a few years ago, when I gradually started cutting my hair short. First a long bob. Then a short bob. Then a pixie cut. Then a mohawk. Now, nothing.
And there were a few times where my femininity was called into question. One time at a convenience store, a woman said, “Excuse me, sir,” but upon seeing my face, she apologized profusely. That’s pretty much the full extent of it.
I’ve never felt ugly with short hair. I’ve never felt more masculine than I felt before. In fact, I’ve always viewed short hair as an improvement of myself. I’m not really the sort of person who enjoys styling my hair. When my hair is long, it sort of hangs there like a bunch of dead weight on my head. In the end, short hair was always cuter. It allowed me to look nice and stylish without actually having to do much. Short hair was my quick trick to look like a supermodel in 10 minutes. No hassle, no waiting.
It led me to where I am today—bald.
As I said, it was always something that I’d wanted to do. I’d almost done it a few times, but then talked myself out of it. Even though I was comfortable in my femininity with short hair, I always worried that no hair would be a bit too much.
But today was the day. I was going to do it because I felt that I needed a change. Maybe not necessarily externally, but internally. I was feeling stagnant. I was feeling stuck in my own head. And maybe shaving my head wasn’t going to fix that entirely, but at least it was doing something that I was afraid to do. It was a sign that I was open to change.
As Coco Chanel said, “A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.”
And that isn’t to say that we can’t be any of that without hair. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: hair represents these things for us, but at the end of the day, it is just a symbol. Beauty and femininity is something much deeper than that. Both are individual experiences—something for each person to define and explore. Society defines us according to some expectations: we can change this to fit our purposes.
I shaved my head because I wanted a change. I expected the whole process to be freeing thinking, “And with each lock that fell away, it felt as though a weight had been lifted from my head.”
But the truth is that it was kind of scary. When I first saw myself in the mirror, I cried because there was still that part of me that was worried that I had just shed away every sign of my beauty and femininity.
And then, once I dressed myself up to my liking, and I got used to the sight a little bit, I began to feel a bit more confident. I began receiving compliments. I began to realize that I still looked good. And the freedom that came from that was not necessarily the freedom that I expected—this shedding of patriarchal ideals of what a woman should be. I was still beautiful. I was still feminine. I was all this despite my hair appearance.
Yes, women are more than physical beauty. That should not be the definition of womanhood. We live in a society that rewards women for being beautiful, so it’s very difficult to stop wanting to fit into that definition.
We can expand what beauty means to us—and there are many ways to do this. Whether we are talking about hair, tattoos, piercings, body shape, body hair, stretch marks, cellulite, wrinkles, or whatever, beauty is whatever we feel confident in. It is whatever makes us who we are. We can play around and experiment as much as we want. In our experimenting, we can acknowledge that we are still beautiful.
Whatever we do, we should not let society limit our freedom because we’re afraid to fit into a narrow, incomplete definition of what beauty is.
Author: Ciara Hall
Editor: Angel Lebailly
Copy editor: Yoli Ramazzina