I shaved my head, and I feel beautiful

December 29 | mswolfgang
flyheadshots-20
Photo by Bridget McQuillan

This past Halloween, I shaved my head for my costume.

It's something that I've thought of doing for years. A little bit daring, really easy to do, and wouldn't it be fun to see what my head looked like underneath the hair?

Then Guardians of the Galaxy came out. Nebula was a badass, blue-skinned, bald cyborg, and Karen Gillan played her (who just happens to be one of my favorite Doctor Who companions ever). Suddenly the time was right to check "shaving my head" off of my bucket list.

15350130163_8d3d3d416e_o

I've been having fun with my hair for several years now. I've dyed it a variety of colors, and my cut is always changing. There are indeed necessities and noble purposes for shaving one's head, but my motivation was none of these things.

I shaved my head because it sounded fun.

My husband shaves his head routinely, so I had no qualms handing him the razor for a quick buzz during the halftime of a college football game. We experimented with varying looks before finally taking it all the way down to the scalp.

I hopped in the shower and lathered my head to get a smooth shave with a new disposable razor. I rubbed some coconut oil all over my head when I noticed the faintest signs of irritation.

I stared at myself in the mirror, perfectly bald and shiny. There was the slightest feeling of nudity even though I was fully clothed. The tiniest thrill of feeling like I did something a little taboo. My eyes looked huge and wide.

I loved it.

BHS_7322
Photo by Ben Stevinson

The Halloween costume was a success, and I've continued to shave my head since, applying coconut oil each time I shave to the scalp. Huge earrings seem to have extra style, my neck looks impossibly long, and the slightest bit of makeup makes my eyes look positively bovine.

I told a friend I feel lovely.

So when people express horror at my shaved head, the most surprised person in the exchange is usually me. "I feel wonderful!" I reply. "I think I look beautiful." I've received reactions that are a mixture of amusement, confusion, and on a few occasions even revulsion. One gentleman responded, "No, you don't," when I told him I liked my new haircut.

You know what? I think I'm going to keep it like this for a while yet. Because when my 5-year-old nephew asked me why I cut my hair like this, I absolutely loved being able to say, "It was for a Halloween costume!"

And when the teen girl behind the makeup counter asked, wide-eyed, "Why did you do that?!" I was happy to tell her with a huge smile that it was for fun.

A shaved head started out as just a fine addition to a fantastic costume, but it's been turning into a little bit more. It's still not a huge statement. I'm not particularly trying to say anything beyond, "Having fun with your hair is not anything to be afraid of."

But it's something I want my nieces and nephews to know. It's an important outlook on life that I want to show young people around me.

Your appearance is there to have fun with. And it's okay to have fun, dammit.

flyheadshots-22
Photo by Bridget McQuillan

Join our community!

  1. It's amazing to me the things people think are okay to say about your appearance. I just got my first pixie cut in August, and I've truly been surprised at the number of people who think I care that they liked my long hair better. Once I was able to muster a "Well that's okay, I didn't do it for you," but usually I'm just dumbfounded that someone would say that.

    Your bald head looks awesome, and I would love to try it myself someday!

    26 agree
    • It's true that hair is a personal thing — but I have been so surprised that my hair is apparently a personal thing for other people! Kudos to you for getting your first pixie cut πŸ™‚ and thank you so much for the compliment!

      11 agree
  2. Yes! I love when people have fun with their appearances, especially hair since it tends to grow back (for many). I think my biggest regret from my childhood/teen years is not being more fearless in dying/cutting my hair. I was so worried about what everyone else would think that I chickened out. By the time I had gotten over those feelings, I only had a few years and then I was in the workforce and had to tone it down a bit in order to be 'professional'. Good for you for setting such a good example!

    7 agree
    • You can *absolutely* still have fun with your hair and look professional! I work a job where I have to at least look moderately corporate — no "unnatural" hair colors, etc. So every winter I do "crazy" things like shave my head, dye my hair green, etc, and just wear a natural-looking wig over it for work. (I wait until winter because the wig can be a little warm in the summer.) I can be a different girl every day of the week if I want, and I fit my dress code so no one complains!

      8 agree
      • I would love to do exactly that, but have yet to find a wig I like! Is there anywhere on the web that you would suggest? I just want something "normal" looking for work so that I can be myself again!

        4 agree
        • Arda wigs are some of my personal favorites. They have crazy an unnatural colors as well as some lovely natural ones. I just ordered a short style in my natural hair color to wear while I grow out my pixie cut πŸ™‚

          1 agrees
  3. I'm So glad I'm not the only one who has wanted to do this. Since I was in high school I have wanted to shave my head, just to see what it's like. I constantly cut my hair short, because my hair is annoying. The shortest I have gone is a half shave, and even then my stylist thought it was weird. It doesn't matter how others feel about our appearance, as long as we feel good about it. After reading your post I am confident about keeping this goal on my bucket list!

    7 agree
    • I have definitely had stylists try to talk me out of directions I wanted to go with my hair. The only time I listen is when they say, "Your hair will not actually do what you want it to." If their reason is, "This won't look good," I go ahead and do it πŸ˜‰ So far, I have not been disappointed!

      6 agree
      • I still haven't found a stylist that really does what I'd like them to do. I'll try a few times. Once I had her recut it 3 times in one sitting because it wasn't short enough! I know they get burned when someone comes in asking for a short cut, then blames the stylist if they don't like it. I finally took matters into my own hands and buzzed my left side. A couple of weeks later, I cut my own bangs the way I've always wanted them and could never get a stylist to do. I don't know that I'll ever go back. It's cathartic, really. Your article is so inspiring! And you look lovely!

        3 agree
  4. I'm jealous that you had the choice to shave your head. My hair fell out due to chemo (as part of treatment for breast cancer) a year ago September — http://corpgoth.blogspot.com/2013/09/and-there-it-goes.html Before that, my hair was long, past my shoulders. I'd occasionally shaved the sides of my head during college, but I've always had the majority of my hair long. It's been tedious growing out. Right now, it's a very curly pixie cut, which my husband & friends say is cute, but it doesn't look or feel like me.

    I've tried to make the best of it — my forte is historical costume, so I've done a few periods where extremely high foreheads were the fashion such as this http://www.trystancraft.com/costume/2014/01/08/1590s-white-wheel-farthingale-gown/ And this Halloween I went as Betty Boop to make use of the chemo curls http://www.trystancraft.com/costume/2014/11/05/betty-boop/ I hope I'll have enough hair for a bob by the time an annual 1920s event happens in September.

    I'm *all* for having fun with your appearance (I'm a goth, I'm a costumer, I've dressed up in funny clothes all my life unrepentantly πŸ™‚ ), I just prefer actually choosing what to do with your appearance, instead of having something about your appearance forced upon you by circumstance.

    (Btw, you have beautiful eyebrows, that's particularly noticeable w/the bald head, heh.)

    7 agree
    • Your costumes are FANTASTIC. I hope that, as your hair grows out again, you're able to have so much fun with it at every stage of its growth.

      And thanks so much for the compliment! That made my heart melt a bit.

      6 agree
      • I'm planning more cross-dressing cosplay too, which I've always enjoyed doing & it's easier with very short hair.

        A photographer friend was planning to do a photoshoot when I was bald, but we never got around too it. Bec. I'd have loved a good photo like the ones you have!

        4 agree
    • You look fabulous in those costumes! They're such great ideas. Best wishes for your good health in future.

      10 agree
  5. I've done the same thing — in my early twenties I had lots of different colors take turns on my head, then got tired of it and shaved it with a razor. It stayed various homemade lengths and colors until about five years ago when I started getting it professionally cut. Then I finally saw the appeal of longish, purposeful, normal hair. By our wedding date in March 2015, it will be shoulder-blade length. But I've been itching for the longest time to go back to a pixie.
    Your no-hair looks stunning, and I'm so happy you feel the way you do!

    1 agrees
    • I have to admit, I've never done any of this stuff myself. I see a wonderful hairstylist! I am in awe of people who have at their hair with their own hands.

      1 agrees
  6. I may have already mentioned this to you, but I was hanging out with a 5-year-old recently who made the off-hand comment that "girls don't have short hair." I totally pulled out my phone to get a photo of you to prove him wrong. He pretty much thought you were the coolest and now believes that girls can have any hair they want. I hope that sentiment stays with him. Also, you are LOVELY and amazing.

    29 agree
    • You never mentioned that! THIS IS AWESOME AND MAKES ME FEEL AMAZING. Thanks so much for sharing that! I'm impressed he was so easily convinced — the youngsters who surround me are being slow to embrace the look πŸ˜‰

      3 agree
  7. I like it! I've thought of doing the same for ages (I always thought Sinead looks lovely, myself), but I have giant mutant moles on my scalp that I've never cared to have to shave around. They look a bit like part of my brain is trying to sneak out, and they're so big that sometimes they show if I cut my hair too short or part it in the wrong spot.

    Maybe someday I'll have them removed and go to town.

    • Same here with moles on my scalp. What I'm more worried about are places where I have had sun spots develop. Even though I am diligent in wearing sunscreen, the sensitive skin along my hairline is particularly vulnerable to sun exposure. I would never get to have the fun of a shaved head because I would be forever wearing hats to protect my skin.

      2 agree
  8. I love this. it's so refreshing to see someone doing something that makes her feel beautiful and confident in her own way. Its crazy how many people have such strong opinions about how other people are "supposed" to look. I wear glasses (which really is not that unusual and the wide range of accessory choices) but I often get people telling me things like "oh but you'd look so much prettier without them." But I like my glasses and I like how I look in them. I could get contacts and be "prettier" according to other people but that's not what I want. Can't we all just present ourselves the way WE feel best and everyone can be chill about it? Is that really so much to ask?

    17 agree
  9. You are absolutely gorgeous! And I cannot believe anyone would tell you otherwise… confidence is really what I think makes people attractive and you seem to have it in spades…. πŸ™‚
    I have the side of my head shaved (the rest is bright red and purple and my 8 year old daughter has rocked a pixie cut for 2 years now – I think its important for my daughters (and sons!) to see strong women who don't look like the norm, so I thank you for adding beauty and strength to the world for them to see…. πŸ™‚
    You totally rock!

    3 agree
    • It is really heartwarming to receive that thank-you. It's not something the rest of the world seems to think of as adding beauty πŸ™‚ Thank YOU so much for saying that.

      2 agree
  10. While I am not at all someone who believes women somehow lose their femininity by shaving their head, not all women (or men) look great with a shaved head. You look STUNNING. Thank you to all those who help establish a new definition of beauty. You'd be a stunning model for that campaign they have to make a Disney character and dolls to inspire girls who have lost there hair from cancer treatments and feel beautiful.

    4 agree
  11. I love this so much! I've been rocking a pixie cut for going on 10 years now (once I went short, it just kept…getting…shorter), and I'm itching to shave my head completely. (My husband threatens to grow a ZZ Top beard in retaliation.) Just like you, I feel beautiful and utterly like myself with short hair. I know that long locks are still held up as the standard for feminine, sexy hair, but I do a little dance inside when I see other women try a short cut (or other less-than-traditional embellishment, like a wild hair color or tattoo or piercing) and fall in love with themselves as they rediscover their own loveliness.

    4 agree
  12. One summer when it was so hot I thought I was going to melt through the floorboards, and my very long hair was icky and sweaty and driving me crazy, I went to the nearest Supercuts and told them to shave it all off. I wanted it gone. It took me fifteen minutes to convince them I was serious, before they would take the razor to it.

    Then I continued to shave it for the next two years, mostly because by the time it grew out about an inch long, it stuck straight out and I looked like a dandelion puff. I found it kind of amazing that during my shaved-head phase, people took one look at me and called me "Sir." Which I found funny instead of irritating. Apparently it's so stuck in people's heads that girls don't have haircuts like that, that they assume anyone who does is male, no matter what the rest of the package looks like.

    4 agree
  13. Hi, your post is really inspirational. I have dyed mine for the first time this year and I am 50 (was purple then pink and now red). I have always been very conservative with my hair and worry about regretting cutting it off. I keep thinking it's time to do something drastic.

    9 agree
  14. how crazy is it that I want to shave my head but stop shaving anywhere else, LOL? I'm just tired of these gender stereotypes. I think I wouldn't keep up my head shaving routine so I'd look like some mid-thirties mom-zombie experiment gone wrong (I've been trying to grow out the haircut I got when I was in labor 2 years ago!)…i want to stop shaving my legs because of the environment (wasted soap/shaving cream/razors) so I can't really get away with that and start to shave my head instead, LOL!

    3 agree
    • That's not crazy at all!! I say go for it at least once if you really want to try it. You save so much in shampoo/shower length with super short/not there hair that you can still feel good about it from an environmental standpoint. And don't worry about keeping up the routine. Invest in a good electric razor so you can keep the fuzz at an even length and I bet you'll be surprised with how easy the upkeep is (and surprised with how good just a bit of hair can look anyway).

      1 agrees
    • I shave my head with electric blades but don't shave legs or pits. I luv it. I feel free. I get some strange looks from the guys I work with but they r getting used to it. And I wouldn't care if they never got used to it

      1 agrees
  15. I've had hair from pixie cut to butt length and after 10 years above my shoulders I'm trying to grow it out again… But damn you woman! You tempting me to shave it all off! You look awesome.

    -wonders what own scalp shape would look like naked-

    1 agrees
  16. My sister did this right before college- nearly gave my grandmother a heart attack. She looked absolutely stunning. I'm almost bummed out she's growing it back (but hey, her choice).

    2 agree
  17. Wow! Not everybody can pull off a naked head, but not having any hair really brings attention to your beautiful face. "Because I want to" is the best reason even for cutting (or shaving off) one's hair.

    3 agree
  18. As a fellow head-shaver, I salute you! There is nothin' better than the freshly shaved head rub.

    4 agree
  19. You look incredible. Sexy, badass and so very feminine at the same time.
    I had long hair for years and wanted to cut it off to a bob recently and my hairdresser wouldn't even go there. She made me do shoulder length first. Then bob. Now I am going pixie next time. My dad's been telling me to shave my head like him for years, so maybe I'll get there with you next!

    6 agree
  20. Nebula!!!! I also went as her for Halloween but went with a blue swimming cap instead.
    Good for you for doing what you want and still being able to respond graciously to the people who think your hair is their business. And you have beautiful eyes!

    2 agree
  21. My mom scared me a long time ago by threatening to cut off my hair when I was about 9, and I was already trying to grow out a hair cut that I deeply regretted. What was she griping about? That I didn't brush my hair "well enough". Today, I sit here with forest green dreadlocks and I have never been happier πŸ™‚ the only time I'll have to brush my hair is when I am tired of my dreads. (They're "natural" or "neglect" dreads, not "twist and rip" or crocheted. They can be brushed out with some coconut oil and a little patience)

    1 agrees
  22. When I was little, my hair would grow to shoulder length and then… just… stop… growing (maybe not literally, but the growth rate was extremely slow for me at that age due to having loose anagen syndrome). So, as a kid, I yearned to have down-to-my-butt hair. The grass is always greener, right? The syndrome improved as I got older, and I was able to grow my hair pretty long in high school. But I hated it, so I cut it very short. I replay this over and over and over. I'll have short hair for so long that I start to miss everything I could do with it when it was long. So I'll grow it out, and have it long for awhile… until I realize that I don't actually do much with it because upkeep on long hair is not my deal and I cut it all off again. When I buzzed it down to a 1/4 inch, it was the most freeing, wonderful thing I've ever done with my hair. I felt so much more freedom with what I could do with it (dye it? sure! don't like it? I can always shave it off & restart if I have to!). Currently, I have a short pixie cut that can be spiked up into a faux hawk on top or smoothed down, with the sides buzzed down to a fuzz.

    I've learned that there's really nothing I can do with my hair that I can't live with. There are haircuts I've liked better than others, and there are colors that I prefer, but even when I take a shot in the dark and hope for the best I always find a way to love it. And I've loved my short hairstyles the most, even when others don't. Sometimes especially when others don't. A part of why I love returning to short hair over and over is for a small visual statement against gender role stereotypes (my spouse has hair down to his shoulder blades, and our 20mo old son has curls crowning his head; my hair is the shortest of our family).

    2 agree
    • Same here! I have what I call the "Hipster Side Shave" that seems to be so popular lately. The other side is barely to my ears. My boyfriend's hair is thick and lovely down to his shoulderblades, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

      2 agree
  23. I had the same experience! I shaved my head for a play, and LOVED it. I kept doing it for a while, too, until my boss made me stop so that I wouldn't freak out the Lutheran Pastor-types that I work with. I felt so gorgeous, so ME, with nothing to hide behind, and I loved being low-maintenance. I also appreciated that I got some bad-ass brownie points for it; I was a wilderness guide at the time, and I didn't have to go through the usual dance of proving to my male campers that I was strong and capable–they believed it when I was bald. The only downside: when my parents sent out the christmas letter with a picture, people started asking if they could send casseroles for their daughter with cancer!

    2 agree
  24. I've always wanted to shave my head. I finally did it in Sept for cancer fundraising (about 4mths after getting married & I LOVED IT!!! The amount of people (mostly women) in my workplace whose reaction was "what did your husband say/OMG your husband allowed that" was crazy! He doesn't own my hair!!

    While it's been growing out I've been experimenting with colour (pink, turquoise, currently dark purple) & there are still so many people who feel like they are invested in what I do with it – "I don't like the blue the pink was better", "what are you doing next, you should do XYZ". It's my hair, I'll do what I like. It's like they live vicariously through your hair – so many people say they love the mad colour but when I joke that I still have some dye left over, oh no they could NEVER do that themselves. I've even been criticised cos the dark purple looks almost black in some lights "oh. it's a bit conservative now – you should go back to the bright stuff".

    End of the day – shaved/short/long – do what you like & just rock it!

    3 agree
    • Oh my gosh, the 'what does your husband think' scandal! My hairdresser was reluctant to cut my hair as short as I wanted (not even that short – bob-length at the front and pixie-length at the back, and she's cut it that way for me before!) after I'd done with having it long for the wedding – and she was all full of 'oh, what will your husband think?', 'oh, how does he feel about it?'.

      He doesn't really think anything about my hair unless asked to, as far as I can make out, and he feels like it doesn't matter. His opinion, like mine, is that it's my hair, it should suit my style and comfort.
      Although he will admit to a slight preference for it shorter as otherwise it tries to suffocate him during the night…

      2 agree
      • My hair was previously quite long & I would moult quite a lot. I frequently threatened to shave it all off to save my poor robot vacuum. The other half is probably relieved I've stopped strangling him with my stray hair. He has also shaved his head for cancer, so was very supportive (even helped do the actual shaving!)

        I just couldn't get over how many grown ass women were all "but what about your husband?!"

        2 agree
      • I got the same question when I got my long hair chopped into a bob two days after my wedding! The hairdresser was so sweet and lovely otherwise that I didn't really mind at the time, but seriously–whooooooooo cares whether my husband "approves" of my short hair. (It was his idea, for god's sake.)

        2 agree
  25. Rock it girl! You DO look beautiful (and have a wonderfully shaped head, you lucky thing!), and I think the message you're sending to your nieces and nephews is spot on! Also you're eyebrows look amazing as well πŸ™‚

    1 agrees
  26. I shaved my head in August! I have a nonprofit organization and I did it as part of a fundraiser, as well as to get rid of my blue hair before I had to go back to my school (where non-natural colors are not within dress code), as well as because it sounded like fun. I got a lot of mixed reactions. I had a blast. And now my hair is long enough that people think it's just short and stylish. I probably wouldn't do it again, but I'm happy I did!

    1 agrees
  27. Not that you need me to tell you but you look beautiful!

    A couple of years ago I almost shaved my head. I mean, I buzzed it really close but didn't do clean to the skin like you did (I chickened out at the last minute, more from the anxiety I was creating around me – the hairdresser was freaking out, my husband was freaking out, being highly sensitive I just absorbed it all).

    I loved the feeling of not having any hair. Weird, right? I liked it at first. But after the comments I started to not like how I looked. My dad commented that I had a bullet head. I won't even mention the looks I got. In my ultra-liberal town I got looks of disgust and one guy looked at me as if he wanted to punch me but in the conservative town that has a Marine base I got a lot of supportive looks and comments (not about my hair) and people being UBER nice. Almost as if they thought I was a Marine or something.

    But now I'm looking at my picture now from the week after the buzz. My eyes are huge LOL. Cheekbones more prominent too. And I look happy. I think I felt really brave because no one else was doing it. I always go for dramatic hair cuts. I am always telling the hairdressers to go shorter. They always say, are you sure? I'm like, give me the buzzers I'll do it myself. I live in Florida. It's hot.

    But my hair is long now. Well, long for me. Just past my shoulders. I love it and find it annoying at the same time. I'm always putting it into a pony tail (which, in the past has always made me just cut it all off, what's the point of long hair if you keep putting into a pony tail?), the wind blows it into my eyes, I have a huge forehead and I need bangs…

    But I think I'll stick with it for awhile.

    Regardless, I think it's awesome that you shaved your head (and for a costume no less!). I think you look fabulous. I think there is this weird societal thing about women and their hair. I guess guys get it too. My husband had the most beautiful long hair but had to cut it all off for a job so he would look more professional. sigh His hair wouldn't have kept him from doing a great job.

  28. I love this, and you look incredible! I have been dying to shave my head for years. I have trichotillomania (a disorder where I pull out my hair) and the idea of having no hair at all to pull or worry about seems incredibly freeing. I've really been toying with the idea of getting a wig over the last year or so. I did purchase one but it ended up not matching my natural color (a coppery reddish orange), and I'd like to get one that matches as much as possible so I don't have to deal with any questions or drama at work (my department gets a lot of visibility from the higher-ups, who all tend to be on the conservative side, and I'm still new enough that I don't want to risk being "shunned"). But ideally I'd love to shave my head completely bald, wear the wig at work and just go bare the rest of the time! πŸ™‚

    I think your post–and the recurring dreams about shaving my head that I've been having over the last few weeks πŸ˜› –are making me reconsider this as a possibility!

    1 agrees
  29. I first cut my hair thisclosetoshaved about 20 years ago, after a lifetime of struggling with my mother (who has VERY defined ideas of how a girl should dress/act/have her hair/etc.). It was SO amazingly freeing. (The only reason I didn't razor-shave it is because I was afraid my tightly coiled hair would cause razor bumps – UGH!) Nowadays, I alternate between super-short hair and locs – whatever I'm least tired of and is easiest to take care of at the time. For many people their hair is a political statement, but to me it's always been about what makes me happy at the time. (I have to add, it also taught me that African-Americans CAN sunburn – and one of the most PAINFUL places to burn is the scalp!)

    1 agrees
  30. Awesome read!
    I had short hair from the time I was 15ish until I was about 21 when I started to grow it out. Had always wanted to shave my head but never had the guts to do it.
    In 2012 however, I ended up having brain surgery and I asked my doctor to just take off all my long hair once he put me out rather than just shaving the front half of my head. I awoke from surgery alive and well and without any hair! I spent the first few weeks after wearing hats and scarves just because I still had a yucky looking incision site but once my hair started growing in enough to cover it up, I went without.
    What amazed me was the amount of compliment I got from people on the VERY short hair I had. So many women came up to me and told me how wonderful my hair looked and how much they loved it. I have since grown my hair out and keep it shoulder length or longer. But even when my long hair looks fantastic, I still don't get the compliments I did when I had my super short, almost shaved head.

  31. Chris, given that this was posted a year ago, and I only just read it, you probably won't ever see this comment. But I just wanted to say that, as someone who also shaved her head for voluntary reasons (in my case, a purification ceremony when trying to slough off some very bad times) and actually felt the most gorgeous I ever have, once I saw how enormous my eyes were with nothing to obscure them, I get it. I even get how knowing you're doing something completely for you, regardless of how much it polarises others, can feel incredibly empowering and so that now you not only feel beautiful, but strong and resilient, too.
    It's been three years, now, since I last used my clippers, and in the meantime, my hair's grown past my shoulderblades and is white as snow, is lionised by friends and mesmerises strangers in the street, but I still miss my bald head, and how beautiful, and strong, and somehow soldierly it made me feel.
    Rock on with the chrome-dome, pretty lady. πŸ™‚

    1 agrees
  32. i love my shaved head. only .25" long. not skin, butt still short enough to bother family. XD did it at first to clear bad dye i didn't like. but enjoyed it alot. so did it again to my mothers dismay. (my husbands favorite part of cutting my hair short is upsetting my mom.) my dad was very huggy and affectionate after i shaved my head the first time too. it was really weird. my mother didn't let me cut my hair till i was 16 then i was not allowed to have it shorter than my chin. so any chance i get i go short. i enjoy it so much.

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.