How shaving my head changed the way I think about beauty standards
Last March, I took a big leap and shaved my head. Always the girl with the envy-inducing head full of naturally curly hair, I had grown tired of dealing with it: the constant upkeep, expensive products to tame it (and more expensive haircuts every few months), and not being able to brush it once it was ‘done.’ Every curly-headed girl can tell you about The Struggle with their hair, and it’s one that I lived my whole life.
At work a month or so before that, a coworker’s 6-year-old son had been diagnosed with leukemia and a handful of people talked about shaving their heads for St. Baldrick’s Foundation to raise money for children’s cancer research. I thought, “Well, I’ve been curious about shaving my head for a long time… maybe this is a sign!” So I joined up and shaved my head (rather, my hairstylist did) and raised over $1,000 for a great cause in the process. Win/win!
Naturally, the new look got me noticed. Some people looked at me like I’d gone bonkers for shaving my head; others called me brave (which I still think is silly — a 6-year-old facing a cancer diagnosis is brave; a grown woman changing her look is not). I was just thrilled to be able to get out of the shower and have zero hair to deal with. I was free from the extensive hair routine, and my happiness about the newfound time on my hands was enough to outweigh any trepidation I’d had about what I’d look like with a shaved head. I was also happy that my haircut was a conversation-starter about cancer research, and that I’d done something to help my coworker’s son.
But you know what else the experience made me realize? Chalk it up to getting older and honing in on what I want I really want from life, but I honestly did not care what others thought about my new ‘do (or lack thereof). It was like I was viewing the world and myself with fresh eyes, and it gave me a confidence in myself that’s hard for me to really articulate. Bizarre as this sounds, it’s almost like I discovered I was meant to have this hair all along, that I was born for a shaved head but had to actually do it to find that out. I felt empowered by my new haircut, and shed the old beauty standards that I’d been living under for my whole life.
In truth, though, it changed more than just my beauty standards: shaving my head also changed how I view the world. Without a mass of hair, the world can see my face, and I can see everyone around me. It also became a catalyst for more meaningful change in my life, in that it started to change the way I saw myself and how I perceive beauty in other people. It’s taught me to value simplicity and honesty as beautiful ideas themselves, and to seek out these ideas in the everyday.
It’s been a year since I shaved my head the first time. I’ve let it grow a bit and shaved it back down a few times since then, but I really can’t see growing it back out any longer than the short cut I have now. It’s become a part of who I am, my trademark that now divides my life into two distinct time periods: pre- and post-head shave. And if all it took was losing a little hair to gain a lot of insight, it was well worth it.