Why I chose to shave my head.
I will never forget how I felt as I stared at the mirror after the young Cambodian boy holding the buzzing razor stepped away.
I felt free.
For the first time in my life, I could feel the air caress my scalp. I closed my eyes and shook my head from side to side. It felt like new-found freedom – the ability to shake your head and not have your hair slap you back. Goodbye Hair Karma.
I thought I would have a terrible sinking feeling and an inner voice screaming “What have you done??”. But I was filled with this sort of lightness and joy, a happy “I don’t care about hair” vibe. And it’s a relief, to realise you don’t feel empty or less of a person without your hair.
My hair was such a huge part of me – I loved doing things to it. Braiding it, colouring it, straightening it – it was fun to take on a different feel & adopt a different look everyday. My hair became so much a part of my personality that I was known as “that girl with the coloured hair”.
And don’t get me wrong, I loved it. I loved how my hair would change colour every time I washed it. I loved the attention – it felt great when both men and women would compliment me.
But it got me thinking. I guess I was on a quest of self-realisation – I wanted to see how much my hair really meant to me.
How strongly connected was my hair to my idea of looking ‘pretty’ or ‘feminine’. How would I see myself without my hair? To what extent did my hair define who I was? Would the people who found me attractive now, drift away if I stopped giving a damn about their expectations? These were several questions I was grappling with for a while.
There’s something about the power of the female hair. We attribute so much of the idea of femininity to it – and in turn so much of our self-esteem relies on it. Nothing can describe the feeling you have after stepping out of a hair salon after a haircut. You feel like a goddess – like one of those girls in the shampoo ads who get anything from jobs to the dream boy because of beautiful-looking hair.
Our obsession with hair stems from societal expectations to a large extent. I have lost count of the times I have heard other women say “I want to cut my hair but my parents won’t let me”, or “I can’t cut my hair because my boyfriend likes my hair long”.
https://youtu.be/x4bBr0TCXm4It sucks that we don’t have autonomy over a mass of keratin on our own heads. If my hair is subject to the rules of society and other people’s expectations – how can other aspects of my life be far behind?
Why it’s AmazeBalds
How do I feel now? I feel liberated. I love stepping into a shower and feeling the drops of water roll around on my scalp. I love standing in front of the mirror and not feel pangs of insecurity. Hair, well it’s gone – it was there, it was nice while it was, but now it’s gone and it’s over.
One thing I haven’t stopped doing is rub my head. It feels so insanely GOOD to rub your palm against your scalp, feeling the soft buzz on your head.
Strangely, I feel younger and lighter – as if the internal pressure to look good eased up a little bit. Because now I spend less time in between the day wondering if my hair looks frizzy or weird. (Because I have none to worry about, he he he)
What’s also great is how much money I’m saving with regard to hair care. No more serums, conditioners and what not. I only need a pea-sized drop of shampoo to wash my entire head and it dries within minutes.
However, I do I wish I was detached enough to carry off a bald head anywhere, all the time. I still wear a scarf as a headwrap to work. I even got a wig at the Ben Thanh market in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. It’s fun somedays to feel like a Russian spy.
The only downside I would say is that you feel cold a lot faster – but get your hat on and you’re good to go.
The ‘Err’ Moments
Ever since I shaved my head – one major thing that has come through loud and clear is how blessed I feel about the people in my life. The first people I told were my siblings, who joked about taking twin pictures (my brother has had a shaved head for a while now).
My parents love asking me for a photograph everyday – my mother’s new nickname for me is “motta” now (meaning egg in Malayalam) and says she can’t wait to play the Tabla on my head.
My father, who has been bald for as long as I can remember, welcomed me warmly to his tribe of shiny heads.
My roommates love rubbing my head after a long day of work. Apparently it’s de-stressing (and it’s a heavenly head massage for me, yaay!)
I’ve revealed my bald head in person, only to a couple of people I’m comfortable around. I’m still apprehensive about the response. I’m more acutely aware of the looks I receive when I walk around with a bald head. There are questions about sickness or death in the family. Or just “But you had such nice hair why did you cut it?”.
But I don’t regret it one bit. Opinions will come in thick and fast. (You look like a boy/ boys like girls with long hair/you looked prettier earlier).
But what matters is how YOU feel. If having long hair makes you feel great, then fantastic – keep it long and strong. But if anyone reading this is contemplating shaving your head – man or woman – I’d respond with a resounding YES.
Do iiiiit – it’s like jumping off a plane but floating down slowly, giving you time to enjoy the view along the way as you gently continue your journey back to your comfort zone.
Do what makes you feel good.
It’s your life, it’s your hair, it’s your choice. Own it 🙂