The last time I wrote about my hair – which was also the first time I wrote about my hair – I was a week away from returning to my natural curly texture after 10 full years of relaxing it straight. I won’t rehash the piece (you can read it here) but at that time my life was in a transitional state and as an outward reaction I wanted to, fairly radically, change my appearance.
I’ve changed my hair significantly only three times in my entire life. The first, as you’ll remember if you read the last thing I wrote about my hair, was when I went from my natural curls to relaxed straight. The second was a shoulder-length haircut about a month after my mum died. The third was at the end of 2014, when I went from relaxed straight back to my natural curls.
And then there was this week.
Those three previous occasions where I had changed my hair were a physical manifest of some trauma, but this buzzcut doesn’t really fit that pattern. Not really. There isn’t anything obvious underlying this decision, not in the same way as before where I knew I was pushing back against something. I didn’t buzz my hair because I was depressed or coping with upheaval. I buzzed my hair because I wanted to kill myself.
I’m not entirely sure why I store so much of my identity in my hair. Maybe it’s because other people do. All I know is, around mid-February I just got an itch under my skin about it. Not a horrible, hate myself itch. Just an impatient one. My hairdresser retired, but no one else has touched my hair in 14 years. My hair was too long and unmanageable – it took 20 minutes to brush it out every time I wore it down – but I was anxious about having it styled by someone new. My neck and shoulders ached from the weight of my hair on top of my head when I tied it up, to avoid the 20 minutes brushing next shower time. I was tired of molting everywhere. Tired of that extra hour on my morning routine. And I was in a “sick of being me” phase. I was just fucking done.
I floated the idea of shaving my head and dyeing it pink to my friends at the beginning of March. My mind was pretty much made up already, but I wanted to get their thoughts. Thankfully we’re a bunch of people who not just support each other’s whims, but actively encourage them. My closest circle were on board from the start. I don’t think the girls believed I would actually go through with it at first, but once they realised they were serious they were on board to. They were even there at the salon when I got it done. My brother was cool with it. My dad was cool with it. My new colleagues were disbelieving but also cool with it. Even the world at large seemed to be aligning with me. In the time it took between me resolving to buzz and actually being able to afford to do it, Kristen Stewart, Zoe Kravitz and Katy Perry all hit the clippers, which admittedly vexed me since I would much rather they look like a better me than me look like a busted them, y’know? I was there at the start of this trend, I swear!
Anyway, so it’s done now. I was surprised to feel no type of way even as I watched the hairdresser – and absolute angel called Naoya – snip off my long plaited hair ready to donate to charity (hope some lil brown angel child gets a sweet wig outta my ringlets!). I mean, my hands were to my mouth, but I wasn’t anxious. Perhaps the shock is delayed but even as I sit writing now, I’m not missing my length.
But that could be because I still have zero inner awareness of how I look. The tiny me that I would envision in my mind has disappeared for now. Between reflective surfaces I have no concept of myself, like a very specific type of amnesia. It’s weird, but it’s also kinda what I wanted? I’m like blind to myself – insecurities and hangups and even personal preconceptions about myself are out of sight in my mind right now, which is almost the same as them not existing. It’s extremely liberating.
And so the old me is dead. It feels cliche to say, but it’s proper “new lease on life” shit, this. I can wear hats again. I can wear wigs! I can wake up at 8am in the morning, roll out of bed and not be late for work. I can change the colour of my hair whenever I want. I can run my hands over my head all day long without worrying about tangles and static. I feel a nameless difference in myself, that’s almost like confidence but not quite the same. It’s not quite the full hard drive wipe of my dreams, but I do feel like I’m starting again.