Imagine running your fingers through your hair, only to feel a clump breaking off into your hands. This was the reality for my friend who had been battling cancer. Though she had already been wearing wigs for quite some, she couldn’t seem to find the strength to simply bite the bullet and get rid of the rest of her natural hair... even though she had been wanting to.
When I asked her about why she didn’t just want to buzz her head, she told me that cutting off the last of her natural hair was admitting to herself that she might not get better. In her mind, if she cut her hair, she was letting the disease win. So despite how awful her changing appearance was making her feel, she was firm in her resolve.
This got me thinking, if I were in a similar situation would I make the same choices she was? Though I have always loved my hair, the idea of buzzing it had always seemed like a taboo or something that I simply shouldn’t do because then I "wouldn’t be beautiful". And that really got me thinking. Why would I think of buzzing my head as being taboo despite the fact that it is a perfectly fine thing to do?
All of these questions swirling around in my head made it easier to understand the pain my friend was having while she was struggling to cope with her diagnosis and her constantly changing appearance. Women in society today - though fashion and expectations have changed exponentially - still have certain fears and concerns when it comes to how we present ourselves.
At about the same time as all of this, I was scrolling through my social media feeds when I saw that Halsey had just buzzed her head. She looked so powerful and amazing and I again found myself questioning why this was something that for so long was considered to be taboo? Why would a woman only be viewed as beautiful when her hair matched that of a L’Oreal commercial?
Halsey rocking her beautiful, shaved head.
The answer, after I saw Halsey’s transformation, became clear: you don’t. Though beauty is in the eye of the beholder, that doesn’t mean that feeling beautiful should be completely dependent upon the opinions of others. I took this photo to my friend to show her that she wasn’t going to lose herself when she loses her hair, and that night she actually let me help her buzz off the last of her hair.
Once I had finished, I rested my hands on her shoulders as she waited for me to tell her to open her eyes. When I did, she was initially shocked, but after a few minutes her smile returned to her face. We then took what seemed like 85 selfies and when we finally settled on one to post, we captioned it simply in the words of RuPaul that are both true and poignant:
“If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love anybody else?”