10 Things I Learned from Shaving my Head

It’s now two years since I first shaved my head. I thought I would make a note of things I have learned in that time.

1. I have learned that I am brave – at least according to other people. People have told me they wish they were brave enough to shave their own head. However, most of the people who have said this to me are people who I consider to have done things or are doing things which are *really* brave. So maybe courage is just a matter of perception?

2. If you decide to shave your head, you have to let go of what the beauty industry says is beautiful. That doesn’t mean just letting go of hair styles etc. I mean really let go of those ideas. You’ll have to embrace, or at least put up with the fact that your head is a funny shape. Everyone’s head is a funny shape, and each head is unique, but if you have hair, you cover most of the lumps and bumps. If you shave your head, you put them on display. It’s best to get used to this, get over it or own it as soon as possible. Also, accept that your ears are small/big/odd-shaped/not this season’s colour – you have ears on the side of your head. If you want to shave your head, don’t let what your ears might look like get in the way. Don’t be told what is beautiful. You are beautiful. Ditto every feature on your face. But it is empowering to be able to say “you know what? Fuck it”.


3. I have learned that my hair has changed colour enormously over the years. My hair used to be almost white blond when I was a toddler. As I grew older, it turned to mousey brown, which was the colour it was when I started dying it in my teens. My hair is now very dark brown, almost black. Except for the bits that are white. There are lots of bits that are white.

4. I’ve learned that I am more comfortable with my looks since I got rid of my hair.

5. If you shave your head, people will constantly ask you why you shaved your head. They will expect something other than “because I wanted to” as an answer. Some people will seem to be almost offended if there isn’t some grand scheme or noble cause behind your decision. If you shave your head to raise money for charity, people get that. If you shave your head because you felt like doing it, many people don’t understand.

6. Once you have done the deed, your hair is gone and people are over the shock, they will expect you to grow your hair back. If you continue to shave it, they will be as confused as they were about your initial decision. Apparently, shaving your head is something you do for that one moment, and not a look you are going to keep.

7. If the sun shines, cover your head. I was not ready for how easily my scalp could turn pink! Get sun hats, scarves, or sun cream, but do something!  Actually, it’s rare that I leave the house now with my head uncovered. I wear head scarves all the time now. This is not because I don’t want people to see my shaved head, it’s something I have always been drawn to. Shaving my head taught me that I have the courage to wear the damn head scarves and not worry what people think. And so I do.

8. Hair grows quicker than you think. When you have long hair, or even quite short hair, you don’t notice the growth of a day or two. Get the clippers out and get rid of it, then see how much you notice the growth. I had not prepared myself for this, and has not realised that to keep the look I wanted, I would be getting the clippers out every two days, three at a push. Sometimes I leave it for a couple of weeks. It’s almost like having hair again. So much so that I start to think about what crazy colour I might like to dye it. And then I shave it off again before I ever get that close to making my scalp a funny colour.

9. I’ve also learned that people are curious (sometimes to the point of rudeness) about it. Last month, I bumped into two of Bean’s old teachers and after asking how he was, what they wanted to know was whether I had really shaved off my hair. Really? It’s over two years since we took Bean out of school, and I shaved my head a couple of months later. The tongues were clearly wagging in the school yard much more than I thought after we left, if two years down the line they are still interested in my hair!

10.You will probably wear more makeup than you used to. Or maybe that’s just me. I often didn’t bother with makeup but these days I rarely leave the house without some makeup. It’s still rare that I actually bother with the whole foundation, powder, blusher, eye shadow, mascara, lipstick etc, but I usually at least sort out my brows. They are quite pale and it looks odd if I don’t define them – with no hair, strong eyebrows (strong but not those painfully fake, badly done HD brows) help give your face definition. So at the very least, I do that.

Am I ever going to grow my hair back? I don’t know. Would I do it again, knowing what I know now? Absolutely.

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