23 September 2007

shaving my head

on september 2, 2007, i shaved my head. it was something i’d been thinking about doing off-and-on for a long time, and it finally happened, almost on a whim, but by no means accidentally. this has become an even more amazing experience than i expected it to be. the first week or so was by far the most impressive part, but it continues to give me reasons to pause.

the first thing i really noticed about it was that, walking down the street, i felt i had the right to look at anyone, however i wanted to. part of this may have been that i assumed they were looking at me too, which may or may not have been a fair assumption. many of them were, but all of them probably were not. it was an interesting sense of empowerment, and i’m not sure exactly what caused it.

before i shaved my head, i had my hair cut in a short, boyish style—or i should say, i thought i was in the process of growing it out from a short, boyish style. several people told me after the fact that they thought i looked more feminine this way. i think i agree with them. i’ve been rather genderqueer for some time; i like to mix & match traditional gender roles until i find a set that fit. i was surprised to find that i felt and probably acted more like a woman in the first week, and i might still. i haven’t felt as strong a need to express my boy side so visibly. perhaps doing something so far from the norms of femininity helped me to reclaim it, in the sense that my ideal of womanhood is an identity that allows me to express it however i see fit.

it may be cliché to note a sense of freedom from my body or from worldly attachments, as it were. hair is so important to so many people, especially growing up as a girl, and to get rid of it is also a very important act. a friend described it as “a shedding type of ritual... letting go of some old beliefs about yourself that no longer serve you, etc. The cutting of hair is very symbolic, and your extreme cutting says to me that you are finally in a place of stating loud and clear (to yourself as well as others) that you are clearing out the old and moving forward” . . . her ideas resonated very clearly with me, although i couldn’t tell you what the old beliefs are, unless this symbolic action is very delayed with respect to the concepts it represents. i can remember times when cutting my hair very definitely meant getting rid of the old and preparing to move forward, but this time . . . this time may have just been for the sake of moving—something that always thrills me.

the part that has struck me most is this: before, every time i would start to think seriously about shaving my head, i’d run into someone i knew who had just done it. of course i couldn’t do it then, for fear that i’d be following a trend (or that people would think i had only done it to follow a trend). when it finally happened, i decided i needed to stop caring or i was never going to do it. i still didn’t want it to be part of a trend, whether i chose to do it for that reason or not. surprisingly, once i had done it, i was excited to meet other women who had shaved their heads. there’s a sense of community there, of shared experience. instead of hoping few people do it, i want to encourage others to do it, to share in this amazing experience. i think everyone should try it once in their life, because it really does change you and make you reconsider a lot of things.

i hope that it will continue to affect my experience, to cause me to change and to reconsider.

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