My hair was a great hiding place.
Baby fine, non-descript, mousy brown, and slightly wavy.. certainly nothing to write home about. Luscious locks? Far from it.
But my hair helped me hide parts of me I didn't like. And I kept trying to make my hair into something it wasn't.
The hours spent in salons for perms in the 80s, body waves in the 90s, extensions in the 2000s, and color always. The cuts! The styles! The maintenance!
My hair has been brown, blonde, red, peach, burgundy. As a teenager I spent plenty of summers spritzing it with lemon juice from a spray bottle, desperate for those sun-kissed highlights. Citrus-smelling hair was so refreshing, wasn't it?
It has had highlights. Lowlights.
Bangs. No bangs.
Always trying to fit in with the up-to-the moment cut, color, style....
Egg white mask. Avocado mask. Vinegar rinse. Milk rinse. There was an entire menu on my head sometimes.
There was that week in October, 1982, when I had it colored, then permed, then colored again. Bozo the Clown and I could have been hair twins - I am not kidding. When I went to the store in my Halloween punk-rocker costume to get some last minute accessories, the cashier said "how'd you get your hair to look like that??" I didn't tell her that WAS my hair - not part of the costume.
And that time in 2006 when I got extensions sewn in - I could barely put my head on a pillow, because my scalp was so sore from all the pulling. After two sun-drenched vacations a short time later, my extensions dried out, got knotted, and stuck to my head like an abandoned bird's nest. They had to be cut out. Oh, well. I tried.
Over the years, it was oily. It was flyaway. It was static-y.
I teased it and coaxed it and scrunched it and shellacked it. I singed it and scorched it and pulled it and pinned it.
No wonder we had issues, my hair and I!
All those years that I tried to grow it long, and it never got much longer than shoulder length. It was almost as though it was mocking me: after everything you've done to me, why would I want to grow longer?
Still, I tried to get it to conform to how everyone else was wearing their hair. To no avail.
In the past few months, though, I began to change the way I thought about my hair.
It clearly wanted to do its own thing, and everything I tried just didn't matter anymore. It was as though it wanted to re-create itself. Start fresh. Start new.
So I started to think about shaving my head.
And yesterday morning, slowly and deliberately, I did it.
I had to start somewhere... so I simply started.
One big snip, close to my left ear, cut away six inches of hair in a random place. Ok! I am doing this.
I cut away the longest, driest, blondest parts first. The parts that had been colored, over and over. I had been trying to make it look better than my 'natural' color.
I then cut away the highlights, added to try and make my hair look 'natural.' How ironic.
As that fell away, I got to the silkier, shorter hair underneath all the colored, highlighted processed stuff. It was so much softer, very fine, and much healthier. I was shocked at how dark it was.
Then, the shit got real. The longest pieces still attached to my head were only a couple inches long. I really started to look different.
I thought about all the times I hid behind my hair. It provided a shield. When my skin would break out, I would part it on the other side to hide the blemishes. The shame - the fear of judgment because my skin wasn't 'perfect.'
And if I didn't want to look at anyone, I let it fall in my face. It was another mask. Protection. I'm afraid of you looking at me.
At this point I looked radically different.
I asked my partner if I could use his electric trimmer. He set it to 10 and shaved off what was left.
I looked in the mirror. Holy shit.
It was fun! How many people get to see themselves pretty much bald as a cue ball? I loved it!
Then, I asked my partner to set the trimmer to a 5 and shave my head again.
And just like that, it was done.
My hair was in a heap in the bathroom sink.
It is, um, a completely different look for me.
And there is no going back.
No way to clip in extensions. Nothing to attach to a barrette.
I was startled when I opened the vanity and realized I no longer had any use for the 9 brushes, 7 combs, 5 curling irons, 5 rattail combs, 4 bottles of hairspray, 4 shampoos, 3 round brushes, 3 conditioners, 3 hair oils, 2 teasing brushes, 2 blow dryers, 2 detanglers, 2 leave-in conditioners, 2 hair turbans, 1 glossing cream, 1 keratin lotion, 1 mousse, 1 gel, 1 heat protector spray, 1 quick drying hair towel, 1 satin pillowcase, 1 set of rollers, 1 set of flexible curlers, and countless barrettes, clips, ponytail holders, scrunchees and bobby pins.
There is a LOT of extra space in my vanity!
Other startling things I noticed after cutting off all my hair:
My cheekbones really stand out.
My entire body seems leaner.
I feel so strong!
I'm not afraid of how people might look at me.
I don't need to "fit in" - whatever that means.
I'm my own person. It's my own journey.
I shaved my head.
And it's freaking awesome.
©Catherine Borowski, 2018
Live a wealthy life.
Catherine Borowski, life coach, knows that life can be messy. And it's through the mess that beauty emerges in the most unexpectedly brilliant ways.