Hair is pretty powerful stuff.
The first thing people notice about others is appearance and for women, hair plays a significant role.
I have wanted to shave my head for the past 6 years. I never did because I was afraid of what people would think about it. I was afraid that I would no longer be considered ‘pretty.’ I was afraid that no one would want me.
As a biracial woman, hair has always been important in my life. I have experienced strangers coming up to me to tell me how much they wanted hair like mine and ask to touch it. I grew up, like most girls, with an understanding that hair was an important aspect of doing gender; of being a girl.
This mentality has stayed with me and those around me even in adulthood.
When I went home to visit my family and friends a couple of weeks ago, the first thing many of them said was that my hair looked like it had grown so much from the last time I cut it, which was supposed to be a compliment and that’s how I took it.
My hair was a huge part of my identity. I could be sexy and playful or serious and sophisticated. I could straighten it out or wear it curly. I could change how people saw me based on how I wore my hair.
So I got rid of it. What would become of me when I got rid of one of the very things I believed defined me?
I shaved my head as a way to start a new journey of self discovery, as a way to break away from traditional ideas of beauty and to learn the fundamental lesson that I am not my hair or any other physical characteristic that I think defines me.
And besides, it’s just hair.