This week marks a year since I decided to shave my head. Treatments were kicking in. My hair was thinning and I was getting a few balding spots. Waking up with a little more hair no longer attached to my head started to take a toll. It seemed like just one more thing this disease was stealing from me. The treatments I was on likely wouldn’t have caused me to completely lose my hair. I still had some fuzz that kept trying to grow back between cycles. My eyebrows and lashes got thinner but held their own. If you have more questions on that feel free to pm me!
However, even knowing I may have been able to salvage some strands… I decided to shave my head with the inspiration of some amazing women. Shaving my head was one of the most empowering decisions I ever made. I decided I was more than my hair. I have always had very long hair and found a lot of confidence and identity in it. Shaving it and still feeling beautiful gave me some element of power back in my sickness. I was told by so many how great it looked, how I had a beautiful head (never thought I’d hear that one), and all the bad ass celebrities I looked like.
I also found that shaving my head/losing my hair gave a visibility to my disease. This gets annoying in some ways. When strangers glare or kids scream at the sight of you… But also people become more willing to help, ask how you’re doing etc. something many invisible illness warriors never get.
However it was not without struggle. I rocked the bald but once I started to grow it back, I started to struggle. I remember one day I was trying on a dress for the cruise I was going on with my mom. I looked in the mirror and started sobbing. Wearing leather jackets, ripped jeans, piercings etc with the short buzz cut was fine but as soon as I put on a dress and looked in the mirror…. for the first time, I felt I looked sick. All of a sudden I wanted nothing more than my long blonde hair back. I felt like I could be badass but I couldn’t be pretty. I felt like it was my disease slapping me in the face telling me “remember how your female parts are screwed up? Remember how I took your ability to have kids? Remember how broken you are? Are you even worthy of being pretty any more?” So I cried…
Then I wiped my tears and I went to a barber, got some fun designs shaved into the fuzz, got some pinkish hair dye and tried to claim it. I went on the cruise, I wore the dress… and I got countless compliments. Seemed like every person on the cruise knew about me and my “awesome hair cut”.
I still have a hard time every now and again wearing “ feminine” clothes with my short hair. It is silly really, but I do.
Also, I learned how shallow a lot of people are. I felt so much safer and less objectified without my hair. Minus the few guys who drove by me, and cat called me I was treated with much more respect and professionalism than I ever was with long hair. At times I believe I even scared some people thinking I was some kinda rebellious crazy person. I never realized how much my hair affected how the world perceived me till it was gone.
Also… my ears miss my long locks of insulating warmth. Having no hair is cold! And wigs itch!
Most people know people with cancer often lose their hair. However, here are some things you may not know that I learned becoming part of the no hair community.
Not everyone who gets chemo looses their hair. (This doesn’t make their journey less valid.)
Cancer isn’t the only reason people loose hair.
PCOS causes hair thinning and balding
Endometriosis can causes hair loss and thinning due to certain hormone treatments.
Some women who are completely healthy and have nothing wrong with them can’t grow hair.
Some just like their heads bald for no reason at all!
In the end we must learn to look past such a superficial physical attribute. We must learn to sympathize with everyone. Not only the ones whose illness we think we can see. We must not assume anything from the way a person looks.
So if you have cancer and all your hair is coming out on it’s own, or even if it’s not, or if you are losing hair patches and having thinning from hormone issues, or both 🙂 or even if you just feel you want to do something empowering… buy your self some clipper blades. You may find you grow in your own identity and learn a lot about yourself.