(Ed note: Oh dear…it’s halfway through April and this is my first post for 2015. It’s been one hell of a year already, and I feel like it’s still winding up.)
So a bit over a year ago, I was looking at curly hair tutorials on the YouTube, and stumbled upon this blogger. She’d decided to shave off her gorgeous mane – partly because she’d ruined it with heat styling and home dye-jobs, but mostly because “I am not my hair.” I found the sentiment intriguing, and almost immediately something in my brain twitched, and I decided I wanted to do the same thing.
I’ve always been the girl with the bale of fuzzy brown curls. It’s such an integral part of my self-image and my daily routine. It’s my shtick. I get complimented on it, I’ve been bullied about it, I’ve despised it and I’ve adored it. It can make me look like a savage ethnic princess or something out of Jim Henson’s reject bin, depending on the lunar cycle and which way the wind is blowing. It’s me. Except it’s not. As I’ve since found out.
On top of challenging my identity, I wanted to stop being so vain for a little. It’s easy to get caught up on beauty regimes, especially when you’re single, in your 30’s, and everyone is breathing down your neck about your love life. Pride in your appearance is important, obviously, but why become fixated on plucking, painting, pruning and other pointless pantomime, when your time and effort could be better spent elsewhere?
Ergo the hair had to go. I decided I might try and raise some money while I was at it, so I signed up for the Leukaemia Foundation’s World’s Greatest Shave. On the day, I drank some beer in my garage while a bunch of my closest friends hacked my hair into a mullet, a Mohawk, a rat’s tail, and finally a buzz cut.
And the profound upshot?
– Zero maintenance. If you’ve spent your whole life with short hair, you can’t begin to imagine the utterly spiritual, blissful quality of this experience. No shampoo! No gel! No aggressive de-tangling sessions punctuated by cuss words and hurling bathroom paraphernalia! I don’t have to look at it, touch it, or even think about it. My scalp is now on par with my appendix in terms of relevance to my life.
– Ladies, you all know what havoc can be wreaked on your hairstyle just by pulling a t-shirt or dress on or off over your head. No more! An unfortunate consequence of this being it now takes me three times as long to get ready because of all the outfits I try on before I leave my house.
– Sheer attitude. Never underestimate the effect that faux fur, slight ethnicity, and a shaved head can have on your badass ranking. Shopping centre hawkers avoid eye contact with me, and I make small children cry.
– Driving with the top down. (By which I mean driving with the window down, because I don’t have a convertible. But I’m not going to let reality get in the way of a good list.)
– Headwear. I can wear beanies! And hats! And more beanies! And headscarves! And beanies!
– Somewhat obliquely, this little adventure landed me with a boyfriend. Yes, a real one, as opposed to a cardboard Josh Holloway head glued onto a broomstick. More on that later.
– My head is too cold. Or too hot. Sometimes both simultaneously. I’m so confused all the time.
– I definitely feel less feminine. Obviously hair length has nothing to do with being womanly, but I haven’t figured out how to work a stubbled scalp into my flirtation routine.
– Grey hair. Lawd have mercy, I found my first grey hairs once all my wool was shorn away. Worse still, GOF was visiting at the time and was the only one there to witness this horrifying benchmark. You can imagine how sympathetic a 66-year-old farm boy would be to such matters. Knee-slapping, maniacal laughter is neither helpful nor appreciated.
– Curly regrowth. Four weeks later, my scalp is starting to look like the business end of a used Nair strip. Straight regrowth becomes an elegant pixie cut; curly regrowth becomes a 70s porn star straddling my head.
– The kicker: I’m possibly even more fixated on my appearances than before. I love my new hair style, and I’m slathering on eyeliner and coloured mascara almost every day to punctuate it. I’ve accomplished the exact opposite of my goal. I’m still vain as hell.
To summarise, I’m not sure what the takeaway lesson is on this whole experience. I guess a haircut is no big deal after all, and if you’re looking to challenge your self-perceptions you’re probably better off joining a monastery or embarking on an epic solitary journey or taking some mushrooms and going to Burning Man.