May 5, 2010

thoughts on baldness

It's taken me a couple of days to settle into my baldness. Here are my conclusions so far. Some of them are things I had already anticipated:

1. Your hair really does keep you warm/you really do lose a lot of heat from your head. It is BREEZY up there now. The best way I can describe it is that it feels like I have wet hair, constantly. The same sense of chill.

2. Reactions can be divided into three main categories:
a. Unabashedly complimentary: "You look beautiful!" (my favorite, of course)
b. Complimentary/fascinated: "Your head is a great shape!"
c. Covertly uncomfortable/needing reassurance/assuming I am uncomfortable with baldness: "Well, it'll grow out fast!"

3. I was right in believing that losing my hair would heighten my desire to perform my gender. I feel okay as long as I can wear eyeliner and earrings. Clothes I never would have given a second thought to -- the hoodie and jeans I wear to work at the barn, my running tights -- I am suddenly self-conscious in, aware now of their gender neutrality. I felt palpable relief last night when the cashier at the grocery store called me "ma'am."

4. Likewise, despite the plethora of compliments I've received, I feel significantly less cute and less noticeable as a girl. Already. A friend in my running group casually suggested we go out for snacks/drinks recently and I feel sheepish but I'm honestly nervous that he may be less enthusiastic now that I have no hair.

5. For all these reasons, it does occasionally take a great deal of my courage to step out the door. My coworkers were all warned, but there are plenty of friends/acquaintances who I see on a frequent basis who did NOT know about the shave. I was very aware of this at the barn yesterday, running in to a number of folks who weren't informed beforehand. Some commented on my head, some did not.

Overall, although I was expecting it I'm still surprised to feel that shaving your head -- as a woman, in particular -- is a real act, despite the fact that it is JUST A HAIRCUT. The people who seem to need my reassurance are exasperating; it's as though they subconsciously want me to feel as though I've made a mistake and regret my transgression. Another person close to me was positively horrified when she heard I was going to do it. She seemed to believe it indicated I was on a downward spiral. As if I'm a different person because my hair is a millimeter long.

I don't love it yet, but I don't regret it. I'm curious to see what happens as my hair grows in, which it's doing FAST; I suspect there will come a time when I feel less bald and it starts to feel more awesome. My current level of hair is a delightfully tactile level of fuzziness that still LOOKS too short for my taste but is really fun to touch.

And I raised $855 for St. Baldrick's, a number which surpassed my goal by nearly $400. You people are awesome.

day 2

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