On March 24, 2018, I shaved my head for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which raises money for pediatric cancer research. I did it in memory of my cousin who passed away from a cancerous brain tumor at 12 years old, but I also did it because it was on my bucket list of things to accomplish at age 25. The shortest my hair had ever been before that point was shoulder-length. This was a deliberate choice because I have incredibly thick, coarse hair, and I was convinced that anything shorter than my chin would result in me resembling a Goomba from Super Mario Bros.
But nevertheless, I “braved the shave” and had it all buzzed off. It was nerve-wracking. It was exhilarating. And completely, incredibly liberating.
It’s been half a year since I sheared my locks, and this experience has taught me more than I thought a simple hairdo change would. So without further ado, here are eight things I learned after shaving my head.
1. Your head is cold ALL THE TIME
I live in Chicago, and it’s not uncommon to still have 30-degree days in April. I found myself always layering up and pulling a beanie on immediately after I donned my new look. According to the British Medical Journal, 7-10% of your body heat is lost through your head, but I’m convinced shaving your head adds another 40-50% heat loss. My noggin felt like an ice cube!
2. Being confident in your new look will attract more positive responses from others
People feed off of each other’s energy, and if you walk around with your eyes to the ground and cringing when people ask you about your shaved head, they’re more likely to pity you or tell you “It doesn’t look that bad” or “Don’t worry, it’ll grow back.” Alternatively, taking pride in your striking style gets other people excited about it, too. Well, most people. Ignore those that tell you that you looked so much prettier with your long hair and that you never should have shaved it. Those people can go soak their heads in an ice bucket.
3. Your sexual allure is not tied to your strands
This one was hard for me. Before the charity event, I used to joke with my friends that I was about to enter a year of celibacy because what man would possibly be attracted to a woman with no hair? Not only is that incredibly insulting to women without hair, but it also sells men short as shallow chauvinists. Through experience I learned that my sexual identity is not dependent on how long my hair is and that there are definitely men out there that find women attractive regardless of their hair situation.
4. If there is more than one woman with a shaved head in the same place at the same time, you both become an anomaly that everyone else feels they must comment on
A couple weeks after I shaved my head, I went to a family party where I met up with a female cousin of mine who also has a shaved head. Not only did people completely confuse us from the back, but they also made constant remarks about how this must be the new style for young women and how interesting it is to see two women together with shaved heads. Smile and nod, smile and nod.
5. Pet hair and dust collect on top of your head as your hair starts growing back
6. Your hair grows HELLA FAST
Especially in the beginning. I noticed significant growth on a weekly basis for months, and even now I have to constantly change up how I style my hair every couple of weeks because it quickly grows in and out of different looks.
7. The pros of a shaved head greatly outweigh the cons
Before saying goodbye to my hair, I was anxious about the reactions I would get. What would my employer say? Would people stare at me in public? Would I get harassed online? Not to mention I was terrified of having an odd-shaped head underneath that lion’s mane. Turns out the words of support deafened any naysayers, and my skull isn’t particularly lumpy. I also cut a solid 30 minutes out of my morning routine when I didn’t have to deal with styling my hair. Woot woot.
8. Sharing your buzzed look can greatly help those women and girls who don’t have a choice in the matter
After I posted my shaved head on Instagram, I received several messages from girls and grown women alike who were either undergoing chemo or had alopecia. They told me how uplifting it is to see other women exhibit confidence and self-love without voluminous hair and that it in turn helped them feel better about their hair situation. What you do can matter to others.
This is what I have learned on my hair journey so far. I will always encourage other women to shave their heads if they are thinking about it. Why not? At the end of the day, you are not your hair. You are you. And that in itself is a pretty cool thing.