We all have special days in our lives, that are filled with memories and make us smile. February 28, 2009, is one of those days. It was the day I was going to shave my head for the first time for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. My parents drove to North Carolina to support me, and I had every intention to grow my hair back, but something inside of me changed that day. When I looked in the mirror for the first time and saw a girl with a shaved head, I thought of myself as beautiful, a verb I had never used before to describe myself.
I often joke that God did not intend for me to have hair. I wasn’t born with good hair, it was too thin and too straight and when I lost my hair due to chemo it grew back again too thin and too straight. To me, hair is overrated and Bald is Beautiful!
When I got home after the head-shaving event, I wrote this…
How shaving my head changed my life
Back in January 1994, when I was told I had Leukemia, I immediately asked my doctor if I was going to lose my hair. When he told me I would, I was thrilled. I had always hated my hair, it was much too thin, straight and I couldn’t do anything with it. I loved being bald – it was fun pulling my hair out, it’s the weirdest feeling when you can pull hair out without it feeling it. I remember being told by many people that I had a nicely shaped head. It’s a strange compliment, but a great one to hear especially when you have no hair.
Jumping forward to January 2009, I decided to shave my head for St. Baldrick’s in February. I always knew that one day I would shave my head and St. Baldrick’s provided me with that opportunity. When I told people what I was doing, most reactions were “it will be so freeing and empowering.” I laughed at their comments and thought “that’s not why I’m doing this, how is it going to be freeing and empowering? I’m shaving because I loved being bald, I’m raising money for pediatric cancer research and I want to honor my friend Amanda who is fighting pancreatic cancer.” Plus I figured my hair would only take a year to reach the length it was.
February 28th was the day. That morning, while I was in the shower I remember thinking “goodbye hair, goodbye conditioner” and when I was finished styling my hair I put my brush and blow dryer under the sink, knowing that I would not be using them for many months. I was excited the whole day, and finally, it was my turn to go on stage to have my head shaved. I remember being slightly nervous because I didn’t know what I would look like and if I would still have a nicely shaped head. As my head was getting shaved, it tickled and I could feel the cold air on my scalp with each pass of the razor. As I sat in the chair getting shaved, one of the hairdressers who volunteered to shave heads leaned over to tell me I have a nicely shaped head. I laughed because she didn’t realize that I had been told that many times 15 years earlier.
When I left the stage with my shaved head everyone told me that I looked great. Even people who didn’t even know me said how beautiful I was and that I had a nicely shaped head and could pull off the ‘shaved head’ look. I was amazed since I never had considered myself a beautiful girl. When I finally looked in the mirror I hardly recognized myself.
I was not prepared for the change that would take place within me over the next few days. Before when I had hair when I looked in the mirror, I often would see a pretty person but never used the word “beautiful” to describe myself. I now believe in some ways that my hair held me back. Even after cancer treatment when my hair grew back, it was still thin. I never really knew how to style it so that it would look good and in some ways that made me self-conscious. With a shaved head, I don’t have to worry if a hair is out of place or starting to look stringy (since thin hair usually does so after a few hours.) Now, when I look in the mirror I am amazed at how beautiful I feel and I smile.
Shaving my head has been one of the greatest decisions I have ever made. I now know what everyone meant when they said shaving my head would be freeing and empowering. With this newfound confidence, I have started to embrace my femininity. This is a shock to my family since they all know me as the girl in the comfortable clothes, who hated to be called “cute”, never wore makeup, and would only wear “girly” clothes if I was forced to. Over the past month, I have bought makeup AND use it daily, bought “girly” clothes AND enjoy wearing them, and have decided to make sure I look “cute” even when I just have to run errands or go hang out at the dog park. I had professional pictures taken and again I was amazed at how beautiful they were. I feel the beauty that I have always felt was within me, which is now shown on the outside as well.
Bald is Beautiful!