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Buzzed: My Life With(out) My Hair

I’m buzzed. I have been for months now. I tried life the other way and I have to admit, I prefer being buzzed.

buzzedIn my twenties, buzzed meant I had multiple drinks and was nearly passed out on my couch. Now, in my thirties, this statement only means one thing: my hair is gone.

It took about five minutes to shave it off. When the hair was in the trash, I took a long look at myself in the mirror. This was me. There was nothing to hide behind. There was just me.

I have a scar on the right side of my face that begins at the corner of my eye, drives itself up my forehead and takes a detour over to the top of my ear. It’s a souvenir from a dirt bike accident I had the year after I graduated from high school. (Always wear a helmet, kiddos.) Without my bangs or hair length to cover it, I can’t hide from it either. It’s there every time I look at myself, a constant reminder of a big mistake I made.

buzzed

“Shearing” day!

And so, without my hair, I go out into the world. I interact with people and a funny thing happens. My lack of hair suddenly begins to form a complete identity for me, one that I never necessarily asked for. It also brings up so many thoughts about society, sexuality and gender identity that I never believed I would encounter when I had that electric razor in my hand for five minutes.

“Are you a boy or a girl?”

I’ve heard this one more than once in my lifetime, as I’ve had short hair for most of my life and wear fairly gender neutral clothes. But I get this a lot more from children since I buzzed my hair.

One little boy, about seven, asked me and when I told him I was a girl, he very earnestly said,

“Well, it’s very confusing.” I laughed and agreed with him.

“You look more like a daddy than a mommy.”

I was told this from a little five year old girl at the Wildflower Studio while digging in a bathtub filled with sand. We never had a chance to discuss gender roles because she then started reciting the entire opening sequence to Beauty and the Beast for me.

You expect things like that are going to come from children. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a princess, maternal figure or female child depicted with a shaved head. Girls have long hair or pixie cuts. But no hair at all? No.

buzzed

The last time with long locks. My wedding in 2005.

In my interactions with adults, I encountered a series of interesting (and what I believe to be pretty depressing) thought processes centered around my hair.

Here are the things that I hear the most from other women:

“Wow! I think my husband would kick me to the curb if I did that.”

“What does your husband think of that?”

“You have a husband?”

I never understood how much, like Samson with his strength, femininity and sexuality is tied to the length of a woman’s hair.

I was one of the lucky ones, I guess, to have found a person who loves me for who I am, and who couldn’t care less about how short my hair is, or even if I have any at all. Most of the time, Andy is right there with the clippers, helping me get the spots I miss.

The idea of sexuality being tied to hair always surprises me too. I wonder at what age we start believing that women with short hair sleep with women, and women with long hair sleep with men. I’ve seen plenty of men with long hair and I don’t think their sexuality is ever called into question.

My hair. My stupid hair. Dead protein coming off the top of my head that I decided, one day, to mow extra short. Who knew that there was so much in the balance when I threw those strands in the trash can.

It’s been months since I buzzed my hair. It’s beginning to grow out now and I’ve thought about simply letting it grow. Then I think about buzzing it back again. It’s wonderful to not be like Samson, to not have my personal idea of strength or femininity tied to my hair. My sexuality, surprisingly enough, didn’t change either when I cut off my hair. Andy is grateful for that, I think.

I have a daughter. Right now she’s one year old. Sometimes I look at her and the thought of her growing up scares me half to death. There are so many things out there designed to dictate what “being a woman” means. I hope, as many parents do, that she can look past all of that and realize that her femininity doesn’t come from something that can be thrown in the trash.

buzzed

I don’t think I’ve ever felt more feminine than I do here.

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One Response to Buzzed: My Life With(out) My Hair

  1. Erica Green
    Erica Green June 23, 2016 at 1:50 pm #

    I love this post Meredith and everything you mention about looks and expectations and how it is such a double standard!

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