The answer to this question would be so much easier if we all looked like Natalie Portman in V for Vendetta – beautiful and angular, the focus shifted solely to our well-balanced and perfectly proportioned facial features. Plus, she still has hair – only a quarter inch long, but it is still obviously more hair than I have had since age 12. Oh, and did I forget her perfectly shaped skull? That’s right – no obvious lumps or odd knobs or lines. I have this odd crease in the back of my head – it kind of looks like a smile where no hair grows. But still I shave my head and I love it.
I didn’t shave my head when I first started wearing wigs – I liked what little hair I had and went au naturel when working out, so every 6 to 8 weeks I was still making trips to the stylist for a trim. I continued to suffer in silence as they asked me if I had tried this product or that to make my hair grow, look thicker, to try and make it look like… more. None of those things worked and I had been trying them my whole life.
Just cut my darn hair already.
Then I went to my usual place and my usual stylist wasn’t there – it was a new lady I hadn’t seen before. I explained what I wanted – I had no hair and that was OK because I was now wearing wigs, but I wanted to keep my hair short and neat because I still exercised without a wig. She seemed to understand. It felt short when it was all done, but I was late and really didn’t care to look at how little hair I had in the salon, so I left. I went to my class at the gym and my best friend noticed my haircut. And then she noticed how short it was. And then she noticed the line that looks like a smile in the back of my head – there for everyone to see. Technically this was the first time I had my head shaved – exposing this weird feature for the world to see. After that, I started wearing wigs everywhere – including to the gym
I bought my first pair of clippers a few weeks later and took the real leap, neatly shaving my head using a guard in the privacy of my own bathroom. I took a picture of myself when I first did it – I do not look happy because I wasn’t. It was still a hard thing to do, despite already resolving to wearing wigs for the rest of my life. This was the final step – this was true acceptance that I have no hair.
It was hard looking in the mirror – I felt like I had chopped off what little of my femininity was left. I had given up on hope. This was the last bit of grief for my hair I had left. Luckily the feeling only lasted a little while. Then the freedom set in. I would never sit in another stylist’s chair, waiting for them to try and pitch some hair growth product that was never going to work. If I didn’t want someone to see me without hair – it was going to be out of my choice only and not out of need. I wasn’t going to have crazy bedhead when I woke up because I no longer had hair. I didn’t have to take my wig off and see my sparse hair plastered to my head looking gross and awful. I kind of liked this!
Shaving my head is quick, clean, easy to care for, and it feels good. My biohair doesn’t pop out from under my wig. My wigs are easy to put on. I don’t have to do my hair – no blow drying, no dyeing, the only reason I still use shampoo is because it doesn’t dry out my scalp. And in the winter, I can lotion my whole head – it feels amazing!
I think that whether you shave your head or not is a completely personal choice and there is no right or wrong answer. But here is what I think:
• It is cooler in the summer
• My wigs stay cleaner – with less oily hair underneath
• It is easier to put my wigs on, no biohair to tuck
• I don’t ever have to go to a stylist to get my hair cut again
• It is economical
• I (feel like I) look kind of bad-a** (lol) without my wig
• It is colder in the winter
• It can be an adjustment – it can be kind of sad to let go of the hair you still have
• There is no biohair to pull out to blend the edges of your wig – or if you do grow sideburns you kind of look funny without a wig – shaved head and sideburns
• If I want to grow my hair out again to switch to toppers it is going to take forever
Oh! And I highly recommend NOT shaving your head down to the skin. Like everywhere else on your body your skin has to get used to it (think razor burn and bumpy skin – on your head) and if the skin is not perfectly smooth, nicks and cuts are possible (OUCH!). Plus, it requires more upkeep. I shave my head with clippers every month or so, but shaving it all the way down is a weekly thing. Just things to consider. So if you are ready to shave your head- go for it! Be prepared for the little bit of wistfulness or full on grief you may feel once you look at that reflection. Or maybe you will rock it like Natalie Portman from the beginning, but either way you will get to a point of freedom that I think you will love.
You can see all of Kerry’s guest blogger posts here.