“Are you sure you want to go through with this?” my mother asked, as I told her the news over the phone.
“Yes, I’m absolutely positive. I think it’ll be great!” I exclaimed, my hand shaking a bit as I entered the URL into my computer. Within a few hours full of me struggling with technology and debating between photos, I had my profile set up on the St. Baldrick’s website, and I was telling my friends and family that I had six weeks left with hair.
The six weeks seemed to fly by as all of a sudden, finals were over and I was moved out of my freshman building and sleeping in my own bed back home. I woke up on Friday, May 20th and looked at myself in the mirror, really looked, for the first time in a long time. I went for a run and had some breakfast, and then my mom and I ran some errands before driving to New York. I wore my hair natural, something I hadn’t done in a very long time. We walked into the pub and I was bombarded with people telling me that what I was doing was amazing, and other women telling me they couldn’t stand in my shoes at the moment.
I was reminded how much the money I raised would help another child, and my heart was fluttering with warmth. I read a sheet with childhood cancer statistics and began tearing up at the numbers I was reading. I had raised enough money to pay for a child’s chemo treatment for a year. That gave me a high that was better than any runner’s high I’d felt before. My mom kept smiling at me as people spoke and the crowd prepared for the shaving. And then the woman who held the razor that would soon touch my head signaled to me that it was time to step up onto the stage. I sat in the seat and tried to stop my hands from shaking again.
My hair felt a brush for what would be the last time for months, my curls were pulled into two pigtails, and then she started chopping. Once the first pigtail was cut off, I knew there was no turning back. The other one fell off and she handed them to me. I can’t even begin to explain how weird it is to hold your own hair in your hands, while hearing the hum of a razor in your ear. Seconds ticked by and my head became lighter and lighter, and then it was all gone. I felt skin that I had never felt before, and my hair was all gone.
My hair that defined me, my hair that helped identify me, was gone.
Waking up the next morning and looking in the mirror was weird, because I had almost forgotten it was all gone. But as I went through the day, I realized I had subjected myself to lots of staring and questions.
“Mommy, why does that girl have no hair?”
“Mommy, is that girl sick?”
“You’re bald but you have eyebrows, how does that work?”
“Wow, you’re amazing. Tell me your story!”
If you know me already, then you know that I’m not exactly the most outgoing person ever. I tend to walk with my head down and I only feel comfortable talking to people I know, otherwise I’m pretty shy. However, a baldhead is meant to be held high. I learned to really come out of the shell that I had built around myself, and I finally got around to learning how to properly apply eyeliner, and what lip colors really don’t work for my face. I started being more extroverted and bubbly, slowly but surely. I learned how to take a compliment and talk to people without getting nervous.
I learned what it meant to be proud of who I was on the inside and the outside.
And a strange thing happened – I started to feel more feminine. I started to feel more beautiful and caring and happy with myself. I stopped comparing myself to other people and learned to embrace everything about me that made me, me. By getting rid of something that typically differentiates women from men, I was making a statement. I felt empowered and strengthened by what I had done, and I felt that if I was able to shave my head then I could do anything. That’s what it means to be a woman, to feel strong and be proud of who you are each and every morning. I felt unstoppable.
Recently, I’ve been asked if I’m going to let my hair grow back to the length it was, or keep it like this. And I honestly don’t know the answer. There are days where I miss my hair, but I love how short hair has made me feel. It has made me feel like I am my own person, it has strengthened me, and it has given me confidence I never knew I could find. It has brought me outside my comfort zone, and also helped me to find myself. It’s given me a new perspective on life, and given me a reason to do things for myself.
I dress however I want because I have a buzz cut now. I run a little bit faster because I have a buzz cut. I smile at strangers on the street because I have a buzz cut. I have created a totally new image for myself because I have a buzz cut. I say thank you every morning when I wake up because I have a buzz cut. In a matter of a few short weeks, I have matured beyond my belief and become a woman I had only dreamed of being because I have a buzz cut.