About a year ago, I had made a big decision with my hair. It started with a day I was watching Face Off, and saw a female contestant, similar in age to me, that had a side shave. My first thought was how beautiful it looked. As the weeks progressed however, I kept thinking about it. I turned to Pinterest, browsing pictures of beautiful side shaves and trying to imagine how such a drastic style would look on me. My ambitious side won out, and I eventually went to a hairdresser to get the side shave. I remember that day pretty well; after my initial hair cut, my hairdresser parted my hair where my side shave would end. Honestly she was probably as nervous as myself! I’m still not sure what possessed me to let her go through with it, but I am very glad I did. The initial *snip* of the little ponytail was the hardest, then I watched in anticipation as the section was carefully buzzed off.
It felt amazing. As someone who struggles with anxiety, it is incredibly rewarding when I can overcome my nerves and do something exciting. Although not everyone was as enthused by my hair as I was (a point I will get back to later), I felt beautiful. I began maintaining the side shave at home with my own hair tools.
Since the side shave, people have asked me what I would do about my bald patch, which I continued to inch farther back until it ended behind my ear. How would I grow it out? I joked “I am going to go bald. I’m going to shave it all off”. They thought I was joking, and honestly I thought so, too
A couple of weeks ago, I decided to go on my next beauty venture. My younger sister, early middle school age, really wanted to dip-dye her hair. So for her birthday, I bought the bleach and a few tubes of color to dye the tips of her hair. Not only that, but I decided to join her on this venture, dying my own hair also. Now it’s important to note…I have never dyed hair at home. But hey, I watched enough YouTube videos, that’s all it takes right?
I’m not going to bore you with too many details, but let’s just say we had mixed results with the bleach. I dyed the tips of her hair in bleach…came out great. After applying bleach to her hair, I thought I would have enough Manic Panic left for my head. As I progressed however, slowly brushing glops of pungent goo on what little hair I had, I realized that I wouldn’t have enough for all my hair. I did my best, attempted to shampoo the small amount best I could, to no avail. I ended up with sections of hair blonde, and sections that were still brunette, with no sense or order.
At this point, I made my next bad decision…I’ve already permanently ruined my hair so let’s pile on the darkest hair dye in the lot, shall we? Did not work, after my dark blue dye adventure, I ended up with some sections still brown, and others BRIGHT blue. I did take pictures, but I’m not brave enough to show them! Just take my word for it, it was bad (don’t worry, my younger sister’s ombre dip dye turned out pretty).
Long story short (too late!), I had three choices. A) Suck up my pride and drop some money on a professional hair stylist. B) Leave the blue hair and wear a hat until it grows out. Or C) SHAVE THE WHOLE DANG THING. You know how this ends, I went with C. I grabbed my razor and started buzzing my head the next day.
This moment was the scariest of them all. With my electric razor in one hand, my blue mop on top, I stared at my mirror thinking am I really going to do this? The most painful was the first stroke, which I did along the back of my head. I couldn’t bear to look in the mirror and I shaved my locks, my hair falling down in huge tufts. After my adventure, I took a shower, ate some breakfast, and went to work. And here we are.
What it’s like not to have hair, the positives
Put simply: having no hair feels amazing. It feels very cool and without hair, you just feel that much lighter, less bogged down. It’s kind of like walking about town with a money belt vs. a purse or bag.
This weightlessness is not only related to physical weight, but the lifting of an emotional burden. Especially as a female, you are expected to put a lot of effort into your hair. At the minimum, your routine may include scrubbing your scalp with dry shampoo before putting your hair into a bun. At maximum, applying multiple products before curling or straightening many maddening strands of hair. When you are bald, this all goes out the window. No styling, no products, no worrying about how your hair looks throughout the day. I do like to wear a hat, and eventually I would like to adopt a wig as part of my beauty regimen. But the beauty of being bald: you do not have to worry about maintaining natural hair. And the less time you spend on hair…the more you can spend on makeup! Ok so maybe not, but for me personally I love makeup and being bald has brought back my obsession with cosmetics. Then again, I enjoy makeup. I have never felt burdened by makeup, but I have felt burdened by my hair.
Another plus: baldness is cost-effective. Now that my little sprouts of hair are growing back I do use shampoo, but that is the only hair product I need. No conditioner, no hairspray, mousse, so on and so forth.
This last reason is the most difficult to explain, but I will do my best. Being bald makes you feel like the most accurate version of yourself. I have joked before that my new hair makes me feel like “a newborn babe”, but in a way it is true. I look in the mirror and I don’t see messes that need to be fixed and imperfections. I see me.
Dishing out the negatives
Like with all things, this hairstyle has a negative side, too. I remember when I first got the side shave, I received a few different reactions. The most ideal situation was a person that really liked my hair (in that category I had…well…me?). Next from that were people who just didn’t notice. Then there is the third, those who treat you differently because of your hair. Now luckily this was as bad as it got, I never got confronted directly for my unique style, but it did hurt when people I knew were clearly bothered by this. When I first got the side shave, I was just going into my second semester of work experience in a childcare center. As you can imagine, there were some individuals that were bothered by this, one of which being a professor I respected a lot. At my other job, I had an employee ask if I shaved my hair, followed by “oh, ok, so…” and change of subject. Luckily my family was happy with me and my choice, and to me that’s what mattered most
The bottom line is that whenever you embrace something that is unique, people will judge. It’s a difficult thing to deal with, but that is the price we pay for being ourselves. You have to think “I look unique, not all people will accept that, that’s ok”. Acceptance doesn’t come from other people; it comes from within yourself.
Something I do miss since shaving my head, ironically, is being able to style my hair. I love Pinterest, and I have had multiple occasions where I see something I want to try for my hair, only to realize that I can’t do that right now. Or for a while.
It will take time for the hair to grow back, if that is the route you choose. From what I have observed from my own side shave and from other people’s experiences, your hair grows around an inch each month. At around the year mark, your hair may be past the nape of your neck.
But it does grow back, and then you have a brand new slate of healthy hair to style as you please.
Currently I am in the “hair growing” process. I have not shaved my hair since the initial buzz. I am happy that I shaved my head though; this is truly a memorable experience that has helped my grow. If you are thinking about going this route, I would definitely recommend it. After all, life is too short not to have epic hair.