What Happened After I Shaved My Head
I shaved my head a month ago!
After turning off the camera, sweeping up all my hair, and coming to terms with the fact that my hair wasn’t coming back anytime soon, my experience as a bald-headed woman quickly became centered around the sensation of having a naked scalp. The phrase “exposed to the elements” took on a whole new meaning and all of a sudden I was a lot more concerned with finding a high enough SPF sunblock and how much wind was too windy for my scalp to endure without a hat.
At least once a day, a woman would take a good look at my bald head and tell me of her dreams of shaving her head. “I don’t know if I could ever do it though,” many women would say. One of my clients in cosmetology school told me her story of shaving her head because of a medical condition. Months before I had even considered shaving my own, she told me she believed every woman should shave their head at some point in their life. Even after doing so myself, I can’t say I completely agree with her. Yes, I believe that every woman should question how narrow beauty standards, especially with regard to hair, have affected her self-image, but I don’t think that means shaving every head out there. Rather, in these moments of questioning, I would recommend focusing on self-acceptance and appreciation regardless of whether you have hair on your head.
At the salon, my baldness became a catalyst for discussing my trichotillomania with clients. No, I hadn’t shaved off my beautiful red hair - that was a wig and I’m not a natural redhead. I had even found a new point of connection between balding male clients and me as I could finally ask someone with first-hand experience about scalp care routines. Ultimately, I found my new identity as the “bald hairstylist” (a name coined by one of my clients) to be positive. I hope to one day open a salon where clients with trich are not only accepted but embraced with welcoming arms. Conversations today with my clients about why my trich lead me to shave my head are the stepping stones to creating the salon I’m envisioning.
Outside the salon, I began to feel more comfortable telling strangers I have trich when asked why I decided to shave my head. Even though I am open about my experience on the internet, I still struggle discussing it in person. I kept my trich hidden for so many years that I built up an automatic reaction of shying away from questions regarding my hair. Every post and conversation is my own form of exposure therapy to feeling comfortable with my trich.
The hardest thing to get used to is catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror and not recognizing the person staring back. It takes looking at a picture or a mirror to truly see what we look like, and my self-image was tied up in a version of myself with hair. I assume this will go away over time, but for now I still jump a little at a reflection of myself.
I rocked the bald look for a week and finally had to come to terms with the fact that I needed to put a wig on again. Without my “hair jail” (aka wig), I struggled to control my urges to pull the “five o’clock shadow” on my head. It got to a point where my pulling was beginning to interfere with my daily tasks. I was disappointed and still am. Shaving my head was supposed to be this big moment in my trich journey and instead it became a reminder that my trich is still alive and well. Needless to say, I am still learning to embrace my disorder and forgive myself when things don’t go as planned. Here’s to moving forward on my journey.