How to shave a life.

(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. DSC_1220 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.

Taken by my homegirl in Canberra who Skyped in for the occasion.

Taken by my homegirl in Canberra who Skyped in for the occasion.

The most horrifying photograph of me ever taken.

The most horrifying photograph of me ever taken. Rat’s tails are nobody’s friend.

I moustache you a question.

I moustache you a question.

Not Vin Diesel

Baldilocks

And the profound upshot?

Pros:

– 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.

Cons:

– 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.

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34 thoughts on “How to shave a life.

  1. I’m shocked! I’m appalled! No Vin Diesel references?

    Really, I think it looks good.

    I’ve been wearing my hair like this for years. Yeah, I’m a guy, but I can still attest to the freeing aspect of the low-maintenance ‘do.

    I was wondering what your father had to say, but since he was there I’m assuming there was no disowning involved, lol. I was also expecting the “driving with the top down” thing to go in a totally different direction.

    • We’re twinsies! Now we both look EXACTLY like Vin Diesel! 😛 I can absolutely see why you’d keep your hair like this though – well, apart from the chilly factor. And your winters are way more brutal than ours, too.

      No disowning yet, I’m still working on that. Dad wasn’t there for the actual shave, but he came to visit a week later.

      And I was going to go somewhere with the “top down” comment, but then I remembered I’m classy and shit. 😀

  2. I love this post! ❤ Fascinating to read about it from all angles. And, you are completely adorable, even with the rat tail. (glad it didn't stay, though!)

    I found my first gray hair at age 32. I saved it in an envelope. Gross. I don't know where the envelope is now. If you get a letter from me, don't open it.

    • Thanks Lauri! I kept the rat, I have no idea why. SO FERAL. Haha, I don’t mind the idea of keeping my first grey though, that’s kinda cute.

      Oh cool, we found our greys at the same age! I take this to mean I can use you as a rough guide for all my future milestones. When will I adopt my first Great Dane?

  3. Great post Inga. We could be facing 3 this year at a pinch which means you have Gof well and truly covered. (I miss his history classes).

    My next hair cut is going to be a No 4 all over which will make a beanie mandatory in chilly old Gippsland, but mine is unlikely to look as fabulous as yours. I do expect to get a seat to myself on public transport though.

    • Heh, I’ll aim high and try for 4! I’m still quite certain GOF will be back, the bile will build up and it needs an outlet (and he doesn’t have FB!)

      I can highly recommend blue mascara and winged eyeliner if you decide to go short. That will definitely guarantee you your own seat, as well as making you more fabulous.

  4. You’re lucky it suits you both ways – going to start getting a little breezy soon around the ears.

    I haven’t coloured my hair for over a year now when I decided what a waste of time and money it all was. I was sick of being a slave to my hair – never been one of those people who enjoyed the hairdresser experience. Funny thing is that it’s crazy grey/white now, I would have paid a lot of money in the past to bleach it this white. Still has some tacky old yellow bits on the end that my daughter hacks off with the craft scissors every now and then.

    You have nice eyebrows too – you mustn’t have over-plucked as a teenager.

    • It’s funny how big an investment your hair is, and we never really question it hey. Hope you’re using your spare cash for useful things like wine. Hah, I started doing the craft scissor thing too – hadn’t had a haircut since 2013, and just snipped off the manky bits myself.

      There’s nothing a good brow pencil won’t fix. Though I do end up with a full blown monobrow if I don’t keep plucking.

  5. I love it, what a great post! I have always admired women with shaved heads as a fashion choice. By admired, I don’t mean they’re cooler for doing it but it just LOOKS GOOD. The flip side to this, I’ve always assumed, is it looks FAB because they have the head shape and lack of scars for it. I reckon those who tried it and learnt it wasn’t for them wore beanies/ scarves until it grew out. In short, I’ve never tried it!

    I pretty much have always hated my hair but also feel my head is too big (normal ladies hats are too small, which is odd considering I’m 5’2″–well within ‘petite’ body structure). I’m a freaking bobble head.

    Anyhoo, I love that you turned the choice around.

    Also, as you know, you look good either with the bouncy ringlettes or bald!

    As to the grey hairs, my latest is not facial hair (have always had to yank out blonde moustache and chin hairs) but I’ve developed SIDEBURNS. I’m not post-menarchal. WTF?

    • Ah yes. I’ve had a fair set of sideburns and splendid moustache most of my life – I’ve just had to come to terms with the fact that I’m a hairy beast of a woman.

      I definitely lucked out that I didn’t have a misshapen potato head under it all. It’s hard to tell, so you never know – you might have a fabulously well-proportioned skull and never know it! It’s a fun experience (although the regrowth looks pretty feral right now…oh well).

  6. Well, when you posted the pics on Facebook, I told you how fetching the look is on you. Not many women can rock a bald head, but you DO. I say, keep it buzzed short. It’s maintenance, but oh so minimal.

  7. Looks wicked beautiful (that’s a Boston-style compliment btw). I think anything that shakes up our routine is a good thing. Great way to make a statement, honestly. Awesome that you raised money for charity too.

    And yeah, I love hats but can’t stand the after hair. If you’ve ever been somewhere very cold you know what happens when your hair gets a static attack. Elegant! I had back-length hair as a Tween and bathroom prodicts indeed got thrown across the room. I’ve had a modified pixie cut since and hate when it gets longer.

    • I’d like to start using wicked-adjective”, I think. No way can I do that accent though!

      Long hair must be the leading cause of stress related illness, I swear. Someone should create a PSA.

      • I thought I read something that said people’s palates are shaped differently based on the language they grow up with. May be total BS but it would explain why accents are so hard to do. SNL cast members often claim they spent 5 – 10 years perfecting celebrity accents! Then there’s Hugh Laurie, whose accent is so perfect that the producers say he sounded more American than the American actors who auditioned for the show.

        • Yeah, it’s so subtle – someone can be apparently be very good at an accent, but to natives it just sounds off. Hugh Laurie is just ridiculous, I don’t know how he does it.

  8. The great thing about hair is that it grows.
    You can do ringlets for a while, and then just disappear them.
    Also, with this length, you can play a lot with colors, since it’s only a month or so to grow it out.
    It’s a great look on you!

    • Thank you Lauowolf!

      I thinking about going blonde, but it just ruins my hair. And starts looking terrible the second the regrowth begins. Guess I’ll just stick with my new-found greys.

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