Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Time I Shaved My Head

When Maxie wrote about the possibility of shaving her head while in Las Vegas this weekend & having to wear wigs for the rest of her life, I realized that I've never told a pretty major story on here: the story of the time I shaved my head. Want to hear it? Well, OK, if you insist.

During my junior year of college, I was the Greek life reporter for my campus newspaper, a well-respected student daily where I hoped to work my way up the ranks from my somewhat embarrassing initial beat. As a transfer student late into my college career, I knew just about no one, but I committed to making myself known. That's not why I shaved my head, but, uh, it didn't hurt.

I'd been doing background reporting for a few weeks on an upcoming event to raise money for the Cleveland Clinic's Taussig Cancer Institute. The goal of the event, sponsored by a campus fraternity in honor of a brother they'd lost to cancer, was to break the world record for Most Heads Shaved. I no longer recall what the original record was, but these guys were dead-set on blowing it out of the water.

The day of the event went like this: The fraternity set up shop in the quad on a sunny spring day, local barbers donating their time to take the razor to the heads of as many people as wanted to participate. I? Did not have any intention of participating. I was there to report, & a good reporter stays impartial. With her head full of hair. But when the brother in charge asked me if I'd be joining the head-shaving party, I joked, "If you can find 10 girls to shave their heads, I will, too." Impossible, right?

But he did. And so... I did. I could've ducked out of that bet, this I know. But I was at a point in my life when I'd recently been accused of a lot of things - chief among them dishonesty & an inability to keep my word - & I couldn't bring myself to let them be true. What better time to be spontaneous & promise-keeping than when it's for cancer research?

I'm sunburned. Also: BALD.

We beat the world record that day, topping out at more than 300 heads shaved in just a couple of hours. We raised thousands of dollars. We looked like a campus full of skinheads, but... you know, for a good cause.

So that's it, the fairly straight-forward story of how I became the eleventh & final girl to shave my head that day - the story of how I went bald at age 22. I wish I could say I didn't regret a second of it, that I was self-confident enough to always feel awesome about my decision, to look in the mirror & say, "You're beautiful!" even on the days when a policeman accidentally called me "sir" or when an acquaintance covertly asked one of my friends if I had "become" a lesbian (not a thing). But mostly, I just felt like the bald girl, & then the girl with a bad faux hawk, & then the girl with a Spock-like 'do bordering on a '90s bowl cut.


Still, I don't regret it. It remains the most spontaneous thing I've ever done. It was for a cause that matters deeply to me. I stayed true to my word. I learned a lot about myself & about society, about standards of beauty & femininity & bucking them. I focused on my personality instead of my hair. Also? The next semester, I was made assistant news editor of the paper.
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