At Cultist, we (Yasi and I) spend a lot of time talking about hair. Head hair, $6 bang trims, cunty barbershop receptionists, those dreaded nipple hairs, and both the presence and absence of pubic hair. Cultist Zine in a nutshell: basically hilarious, perky-breasted women talking about hair.
Six years ago I shaved my head. Before you ask, NO I was not following in the footsteps of Britney Spears. I was first by exactly one week. I’m the queen of meltdown makeovers and she’s just a copycat crazy. (Sorry Mom, not making light of the situation, I know my buzz cut was hard for you).
So why did I do it? My fanatical obsession with Sinéad O’Connor and my desire to have the entire USC student body ogle me like I was a scary lez or a sad cancer patient, of course. That and the fact that, like many young girls, I used dabble heavily in self-loathing and was maybe a little sexually conflicted (I suppose scary lez wasn’t so far off). As a result, I would alternate between binging and starving myself and always being generally destructive (highlights include carving the letters F-A-T in to my thigh, self-medicating, and carrying on a relationship with someone who was in and out of rehab). The scars have since healed, but let’s just say it was not the best time for me or anyone who cared about me.
When I finally terminated my relationship with the aforementioned alcoholic/found out via My Space that he was “in a relationship” with some San Francisco skank who had a butterfly tattoo with wings spanning her entire back, the scene wasn’t pretty. After attending my roommate’s birthday dinner, we drove to Rite-Aid to purchase clippers and a six pack of Corona, and went back to our apartment where she proceeded to shave my head. I was surprisingly calm as I watched more than a foot of hair tumble to the floor of our living room, wondering, “To whom do those beautiful, luscious mahogany locks belong?” Surely they couldn’t be mine. My hair was mousy and bland. Not curly. Not straight. And not that sexy in-between-kind either. In that moment (or one of the many mid-therapy moments to follow) I had the transformational realization that as long as something was a part of my body, my fucked up brain could be counted on to mangle and distort it beyond recognition. But once my mane had been physically severed from my scalp, I finally saw it as God had intended, as hair that could have starred in an Herbal Essences commercial.
It took a while (and several packs of bobby pins) for me and my hair to outgrow the bull dyke/Chia Pet stage, and for me to turn into a confident woman who doesn’t rely on conventional canons of femininity to feel pretty. But eventually we did. And now I rely on my short, newly bleach-blonde locks for that feeling. (Mostly) kidding. But to answer my initial question, for some people hair may be no more than a blank canvas for random experimentation, but not in my case. My drastic physical change was a silent conversation with the world, a demonstration of what I wasn’t yet ready to say, things like, “I might like girls,” “I feel dark and twisty sometimes,” “I want to be a sex writer and date a biker,” and other things of that nature. Now that I’ve learned to use my words, I’m a lot happier, and my hair looks a lot better too.