We all know that COVID has changed the world forever.
Isn’t it funny to think back to 2020, wishing for the world to “go back to normal.”
I have realized that
1. Things are never “normal” because normal is relative.
2. We can never go back, all we have is the present.
3. Letting go of the idea that things will “go back” gives us the freedom to create something new for ourselves.
With this new perspective of letting go to create something new, I started reflecting on how much of my life was undergoing a shift. Internally, I was maturing and changing. Externally, I felt like I looked relatively the same as I had since high school. I was in desperate need of expressing my individuality and starting over, to feel fresh. I needed to create myself without the expectations of others I had been storing (un)consciously for years.
Thinking of something less extreme than getting a tattoo sleeve, the next best option was to shave my head. For almost as long as I can remember, I have wanted to shave my head. It was a lifelong bucket list item that I would cross off, only when “the time was right!!!”
With no reason not to cut my hair, the time seemed right. Goodbye Hair!!
While I don’t consider it an impulse decision (like many may assume), it has been a choice that has fundamentally shifted my perspective of myself and the ways others perceive me (and how I do/don’t internalize that). Being bald is LIBERATING. It is also a huge statement that is near impossible to hide. I didn’t realize how frequently I was burying myself behind the comfort of soft hair. I was left questioning how to thrive with the change in my appearance and the loss of a physical feature I loved so dearly. My hair was now gone, induced by my own actions.
2 weeks into being Bald, I was searching for support and stumbled into the comfort of a bookstore. Sure enough, I found a book with the cover of a BALD GIRL! Immediately, I picked it up, skimmed the inside, and discovered it was an autobiography. Perfect, someone to relate to who will share with me how to get through this.
McGowan's autobiography shares her hardships and triumphs of a life that many of us may relate to, in some way or another. The strongest lessons I pulled from her story are how resilient humans can be to trauma and how powerful and engrained the male gaze is in modern society (In 2020, 78.9 percent of movie directors of theatrical films were male. As a society, we are trained from the beginning to literally view the world from the perspective of men through the unavoidable consumption of media.)
I was hoping McGowan would share what she learned from shaving her head. What could I expect through this journey? What was she going to tell me about an experience I was struggling to thrive in; while also being an experience I created by myself, to myself.
And you know what, she didn't even mention it! I kept turning the pages waiting for her to talk about what it was like to shave her head. Nothing. ‘Bald’ was nowhere to be found.
Closing that book, slightly disappointed I didn't get what I came for, I realized she didn't need to. Her story and lived experiences tell you who she is. Her hair doesn't define her and her life has been filled with WAY more interesting things than... hair.
Yet, hair tells a story and its a power move for the cover of a book. Being bald is a STATEMENT.
It took me time to feel comfortable with the statement I was making to the world. After 3 weeks of being bald I could finally recognize myself in a reflection when walking by and was loving my easy morning routine.
Thinking my hair was long enough to get a haircut 3 months after the initial shave (it wasn’t), I walked into a barber shop and simply said “please help me, I have no idea what I am doing”.
I came out with a fade, something every 21 year old girl is lining up for!
Simply put, I had a meltdown.
I did not feel like myself in my own body. I knew that how I saw myself was not how the world was seeing me. And because hair doesn’t magically grow a foot overnight, I was left impatiently waiting to feel feminine and confident again, putting so much weight on my hair to make me beautiful.
Fun fact: I am beautiful, regardless of my temporary external features. And so are you.
As The Fade is continuing to grow out, my extremely straight hair is transitioning into a flow (you know the kind that high school athletes have… yep!). I now step away from mirrors when I begin to speak negatively and consciously change my internal dialogue to be kind to myself.
Life moves fast. We grow and things change. It is all temporary. The only way out is through.
“Sometimes you need to scorch everything to the ground, and start over. After the burning the soil is richer, and new things can grow.” - Celeste Ng
Interested in what I am reading? Check out my Goodreads!