On Shaving My Head


Image courtesy of Vanessa_Hutd. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

On Saturday, I paid a very nice woman a sum of money to shave off most of the hair on the sides and back of my head, using a variety of clipper guards for reasons that she explained to me and that I did not understand. Afterwards, she gleefully Instagrammed my head, which was charming.

This was a little bit of a personal dare. I am afraid of so (so!) many things in my life–chief among them looking foolish. I have been trying to be better at confronting this by going out and doing those things. Mostly it’s worked out well (or at least not awfully–my improv teacher told me last week that he thinks my face always looks like I hate him, so).

I have a massive, dorky, middle-school-sized fear of trying to do something fun, or cool, or interesting, and being called out on it when I fail. This is tied up with a summer that’s been spent feeling boring and unattractive, for reasons which are unexciting to anyone but me but which involve OKCupid being a Kafkaesque hell-scape.

This haircut managed to combine both of those fears: there is a part of me which still thinks someone is going to see it and realize that I’m not an art school girl who weighs 90 pounds while sitting and smoking cloves in some sort of Instagrammed photoshoot that will wind up on my very popular tumblog. (You guys, I use WordPress. I am so square.)

I was worried that people would instead think that I was a round-headed weirdo with a messed-up, uneven face going through some sort of outward crisis. I was worried that they would think that I didn’t know that.

Of course no one thought that–or if they did, they kept it to themselves. Aside from my dad telling me I should check out this great new band called Flock of Seagulls (bazinga), no one has cared. A few folks at the party I attended over the weekend complemented it, and the improv teacher who thinks I have bitch face did the dude version of a hair compliment, which is acknowledging that a change has happened.

If I was being taunted behind my back, it was done discretely. For the most part, no one seems to have noticed. On some level, of course no one noticed. The thing about internal fears is that they are so, so self-absorbed.

It’s weird to me that my fear, which is at its core about being thought of as un-self-aware–of assigning myself credit that I don’t deserve for being stylish or smart or pretty–leads to this mean, awful inner dialogue. It doesn’t matter if someone thinks my clothes or weird, or I’m dumb, or I’m ugly–if I can beat them to that thought, I’m winning, somehow.

And it makes it even weirder to know that most of the women that I know have that same mean, awful inner dialogue running. This, despite the fact that the women I know and like are uniformly gracious and kind and forgiving of others. A real person who was as mean as any of my interior monologues would be thought of as an asshole.

So, hopefully the haircut looks nice. And hopefully attractive, funny men who do not make awful jokes about racism and classism and sexism will tell me so at bars (or the female friends of those men will do so, and then introduce us). But even if none of that happens, hopefully having my hair this short will help me take my inner monologue and wall it up in my basement, House of Usher style, until it learns to behave. I do not need an asshole second person living in my head.

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