Thursday, April 8, 2010

I believe that my hair is my best feature. I liked it when it was red.

And now it's gone.

There wasn't any parking so I had to have my head shaved alone. This rather numbed me. There were throngs of people everywhere – the idea or concept of a personal space vanished.

Once I got into the pub, it was better. Mostly it was guys shaving their heads.

It was confusing for me because there was no structure, no lines. People came up to be shaved when they wanted to. When I managed to mingle my way through the front, an “oh” rippled through the crowd when they saw my hair and how long it was, how red it was, how pretty it was. Then, when I sat down, cheers. Hands high fived me. People thumbs upped me. Cameras flashed at me as both men and women crowded closer to the front.

A woman gave me a ten dollar bill right then and there because I was shaving off my long, beautiful hair.

I must have been the first girl to shave.

It was very embarrassing – and thrilling – to be put in the spotlight. When the barber put my hair in a pony tail and shaved it off, held it out to me, the crowd cheered again while I exclaimed over and over, “Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god.”

I numbed again.

I must have looked lost – a man assured me it would grow again. Another woman jokingly offered me her beer.

Then I felt a buzzing in my skin, a whisper of metal against my ear. The tickle of the wind across my scalp, so gentle and tender and cold. Hair fell in swathes against my arm, down my neck.

“Oh, you look so pretty bald! Doesn't she look pretty!” To me again, “At least you can pull it off right?”


They handed me a mirror. And yeah, I did look good bald.

When I stood up again, the crowd whistled and cheered.

It was amazing...surreal. I wished I could have processed it more instead of going tharn.

But, I can feel the entire world on my head.

I need to write journal entries for one of my classes and I wrote one about why I shaved my head. I think some of it is relevant, and possibly of some interest to my readers. So here's some of it below (and professor D, if you somehow stumble across this, I swear I'm the same person!):

I believe that hair has socially constructed gender connotations. Women are supposed to have long hair, period. Evidence: a friend told me about an unspoken rule her friend experienced in a school district. If the hair's short, a woman should wear a skirt but if it's long, pants are okay - or else people would assume that one is lesbian (which also opens its own can of worms, but I've decided to focus simply on the hair). The skirt on short haired women is something that is also intrinsically feminine -- essentially becoming an x = y equation for femininity. Thus long hair becomes intrinsically feminine, allowing places like TDCJ to demand that their male employees cut their hair short while letting women keep their hair long and tied up above the collar (yet if a male member of TDCJ wished to grow his hair out and wear it like a woman employed by the state, he still would not be allowed to do that). I think that assigning this sort of gender value to hair is more harmful than healthsome. To continue the TDCJ observation, women are told that pony tails can be easily grabbed, so they should tuck it up. However, if a woman has a lot of hair, a bun (which adheres to regulations), is just as easy to grab and wrench (and if the pony tail doesn't go below the collar, it's still okay to wear it like that). Assigning such a value on hair is ultimately gender roled and, though they are attempting to treat women as equal, ultimately sexist because they are exempt from the rule that requires men to clip their hair. I want to fight that kind of gender allotment to hair. (Because I can.) Wow, all that and I didn't even really get into the Rapunzel fairy tale, but I think that that's (obviously) a wonderful tale illustrating just how long hair is plugged into femininity.

I also decided to shave it for charity. Personally, I don't know a child who has cancer – and only a distant relation of mine has cancer, so it seems a little weird I'd shave my head for a cause that really has no connection to me. I think I did it for several reasons – hair and cancer are inevitably intertwined and, from my observations above, gender is probably involved in the background. Also, I think that people get a lot of flak for being different, or for being sick – for example, when I was reading about people who had shaved their heads, one woman said that girls would flock by her, muttering that she looked like a cancer patient as if she were making a bad fashion statement. I find those kind of actions despicable. People who are different (whether by choice, illness, genetics, etc) should not be ostracized simply because of their difference. Even though I had a choice to lose my hair unlike many others, it shows empathy - that I wasn't afraid to lose what they had lost. I believe if people had more empathy, the world would be a better place.

The third big reason I decided to shave it is because I am a writer. Like I said once before on this blog, I think all writers should be like starlings, collecting new experiences like shiny flim-flam. I've never done anything like this before. I've never driven out of town for a hair cut. I've never fund raised. I've never had my hair cut shorter than my shoulders. I wanted to experience life – and be part of something that I've never been part of before. I think I accomplished that, though it would have been easier if there had been parking and no headache from congested, grid locked traffic. But, I think I'm glad I did it.

Still -- I have lost something - it's a quiet feeling, slightly tasting of isolation - a naked sort of feeling.

Live long and prosper.