Rachel Heath

Intentional Living: learning to be fully present

On Shaving My Head

About 4 months ago, I shaved my head.  I had long curly hair at the time, and shaved it clean off, to about an eighth of an inch long.  A friend who had recently done the same thing told me, “if it’s really in your heart to do this, you won’t regret it for a second.”  And I haven’t.  I give the same advice to everyone who asks me about it, or says wistfully, “It looks great on you, but I could never pull that off.”

long red hair- shortly before I cut it off 

When people asked me why I did it, I had a standard answer.  Isabella is always pulling my hair, I don’t have time to shower every day so it looks nice, this is easier and faster, I haven’t seen my natural color in 10 years.  Which is all true, but I was motivated by something much deeper.

When Izzy was tiny, I would read to her while she nursed.  One book I chose (because it was the only book I could reach on my sister’s bookcase from where I was sitting): Captivating- Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul by Stasi Eldredge (the partner book to Wild At Heart).  I had avoided this book for years because everyone and their mom has done a bible study on it but, for lack of any other options, cracked the spine and started reading.  I was hooked after the first chapter.

As I read, God did a massive work in my heart.  He began to show me that, because of my history of sexual abuse, my view of femininity was incredibly distorted.  I’ve always equated sexuality with femininity.  I’ve thought of beauty as something dangerous.  Thus, I’ve spent most of my life alternately giving the middle finger to anything stereotypically feminine and secretly desiring being objectified.  I’ve written diatribes on this blog about being catcalled at while at the same feeling in my heart of hearts validated by the behavior.

My hair has always been an expression of this confusion over my femininity.  Most people who know me would say that I don’t care what anyone thinks of me, that I’m a nonconformist and that I do whatever I want, societal expectations be damned.  But everything I’ve done with my hair has been in hopes that I would be perceived a certain way- it’s been every color under the sun, long and short and straight and curly and everything in between.  I was desperate for someone to tell me who I was.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with expressing yourself with your hair- it’s fun- but I did it to make myself into a certain person.  I’ve been goth and emo and punk and hippie and pin-up and flapper and although it often does change the way people perceive me, it hasn’t helped me accept myself.

Stephen cutting my hair before
we taking clippers to it
So when I shaved my head, I started fresh.  I cut off all of my striving, all of my needing other people to tell me who to be.  And I’ll never forget the way I felt when I looked at myself in the mirror for the first time, curly locks laying around my feet.  I felt beautiful- really beautiful– for the first time in my entire life.  I felt settled, comfortable in my own skin, imperfections and all.  Suddenly the things I dreamed of doing seemed possible.  Suddenly I felt comfortable in any situation, sure of myself, and not desiring validation from anyone.

It seems counterintuitive to get rid of one of the things society tells women they need in order to realize your worth and power and beauty as a woman, but isn’t that just how God works?

Me with 9 month old Isabella
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6 thoughts on “On Shaving My Head

  1. oh well your hair looks GREAT short!

  2. Thanks! I think I'm going to keep it short!

  3. I LOVE your short hair! I’ve done the head-shaving thing, too, and felt so empowered with short hair. Right now I’m enjoying the very different kind of empowerment of my recently regrown longer hair, but that short hair is always calling my name… 🙂

    p.s. I’m totally subscribing to your blog. Love your thoughts!

  4. Pingback: On Living in Relationship Without Facebook | Rachel Heath

  5. Pingback: On 174 Pounds | Rachel Heath

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