There are only two things I know for sure. First, my hair is my life. Second, that first point is not hyperbole. When I type "my hair is my life," I literally mean that the hair that sits atop my head is my primary source of energy. Like a spring flower, I rely on the radiant glow of my golden-brown hair to feed me whatever-the-hell photosynthetic magic life ether plants need to stay strong, colorful and healthy. My spirit manifests itself in my hair, and without it I am nothing.
This discovery came early in life. I was five, maybe six when my hair's mythical power first presented itself to me. As sweet, cherubic little white children do, I skipped through the woods one morning behind the one-room cobbled cottage my family of six shared in the 19th Century Swiss Alps, clad in railroad-striped OshKosh shorteralls over a bright pink G.A.P. tee-shirt (this flashback takes place simultaneously in 1876 and 1999, apparently), and swinging a hand-woven basket of daisies from the crook of my elbow. I couldn't tell you where I was off to--I'm not even sure I had a destination--but there I was, skipping merrily down the path to discovery.
Basking in the idyllic utopia of this completely historically accurate hyper-fantasy, I galloped freely, weaving through the blooming spring trees as I whistled Britney Spears' "... Baby One More Time" in unison with the cloud of bluebirds fluttering around me. Light blonde and stick-straight, my bowl-cut hair flounced with every skip. As I strode along, my youthful magnetism lured a mass of critters to my side. Foxes trotted alongside baby elephants, pandas alongside peacocks. There were some outliers, too: a tanuki, an emu, an alpaca, and a jackalope all followed along. Lastly, a legion of gorgeous stray cats of different breeds, sizes, and coats graced my posse, coloring it with a diverse, bizarre personality.
So we skipped along, parading through a montage of assorted, incongruous global backdrops. We pinballed through a street market in Marrakech, ice skated across the entire heaping ice-mass of Antarctica, scubaed in and out of Atlantis, and rappelled into the mouth of an active Pacific volcano island. At our last stop on this quick tour, we came across a small, gushing stream behind a quiet village in medieval Japan. The bursting sakura clouded the mossed woods in their signature, ethereal white-pink. With my horde of animals beside me, I approached the trickling stream, thirsty for something liquid, wet and watery to consume to add moisture to my body (which is to say I was just thirsty... for water.) Casually shattering the confines of space and time takes a lot out of a person—especially a miniature, cherubic one!—and I was parched.
Making my way to the shore of the stream, I took a moment to reflect upon my... well... reflection in the glassy water. By this point, I had just learned object permanence and was still new to this whole self-identification thing. Naturally, then, it took me a minute to recognize the unbelievably cute, chubby blonde kid staring back at me. Once I made the connection, though, an electric wave of self-indulgence swallowed me as I perched on my little rock, gazing longingly at the angel that was me.
As I scrutinized my reflection, I came across aspects of my appearance I'd never noticed before. Catching sight of my nose, I was startled by the impossibility of it—how it looked both knobby like a potato and perfectly sculpted at the same time. My deep brown eyes whimpered like a puppy, then pounced on me, blanketing me with their warmth. Just above, my thick, bushed brows asserted themselves into my gaze, beautiful in their disarray. And finally, my platinum blonde bowl-cut sparkled in the sunlight that peeked through the blossoms.
It would be years before the platinum faded to dirty blonde and eventually a slightly gilded light brown, but I didn’t know that yet. I was entranced, dazzled by my golden bowl, which continued to glisten in the light. There was a certain flair to it not present on rest of my face—a vaguely magical, mystical quality I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
A few hours passed, and I eventually mustered the energy to corral my animal friends to navigate back through the insane dream-path that led us to that fairytale stream. I made it back to reality, but I never quite lost sight of my hair’s enchanting nature.
Of course, memory is unreliable. I probably fudged the details of this story here and there, but the overall message rings true: My. Hair. Is. Magic.
Now, I like to think of myself as an understanding, kind, and empathetic person, open to discussion and willing to hear opposing views on an issue. That said, I'm not about to apologize for any perceived arrogance or vanity in this declaration. To reiterate: My hair is goddamn MAGIC. This is just fact—it isn't up for debate.
Strangely, this was not of the considerations I made before impulsively reaching for a set of clippers last January and shaving off every last strand. Of all the thousands of thoughts racing through my head in the 7-10 seconds between my decision to buzz my head and the physical followthrough, my hair's magic wasn't included. It just didn't come up.
Just like that, the priceless golden locks I depended on to keep me mentally, emotionally, and spiritually stable flitted and fluttered to the beige-grey tile of my bathroom floor. In an instant, all that made me magic was... gone.
A modern tragedy, if there was one.
Well... actually... not really. Like, at all.
It turns out my head's got a nice shape to it. I was never fully aware of this fact with it buried under mounds of wavy blonde hair for so long. The tight crop highlights and accentuates my face's more interesting features, which is a sharp contrast from the nearly complete shrouding my long hair provided them. Example: though I have no physical proof of it, I'm confident the first words out of my mouth post-buzz were "I have cheekbones???" followed by "WHERE THE HELL DID THAT JAWLINE COME FROM???". My scribbled, bushy-ass eyebrows, once a mere accessory to my hair's fabulousness, lept to prominence, finally demanding the love and admiration robbed of them for the last five years. My deep brown eyes, already fairly welcoming and warm, were suddenly bursting with that weird projected love and generosity we arbitrarily assign to certain facial features despite them having no scientific or psychological connection to temperament or personality (??? ookay....). Also: my smile is impossibly straighter AND whiter since the buzz, but I won't get into that because it continues to baffle me (my only explanation: again, magic).
Now, one of the most significant concerns I had leading up to the decision to shave my head was a matter of perceived masculinity. Cropped hair had always been a signifier of brutish, militant masculinity to me. For an androgyne fairy princess such as myself, the style never really had an appeal—why cut my hair like a literal soldier when I could let it flow freely from my follicles the way mother nature intended? Somewhere down the line, the idea was planted to buzz my head, though I didn't pay much notice.
I could probably trace it back to that weird year in Hollywood when Anne Hathaway cut all her hair off to play Fantine in Les Mis and suddenly cropped hair was a thing. I saw all these accomplished, intelligent, and creative women shaving their heads with outcomes that ranged from unapologetically feminine to impeccably androgynous. Rather than take that inspiration and apply it to my own life, I projected it onto my circle of friends. I'd casually slip it into a conversation: "You should totally buzz your hair." The interjection wouldn't be on topic. I'd be minutes into a conversation about, I don't know, taxes when I'd rattle off some retort on Emma Watson's new hair. "But she, like, really pulls it off," I'd argue when my friends inevitably shooed the topic like a gnat, "and she makes it look so pretty and feminine."
Of course, it never occurred to me to take my own advice and embrace the buzzed look that in retrospect only felt inevitable... So a few months passed like this, my relentless push for shaved heads getting on every nerve of every girl I'd been lucky enough to call a friend until the fad eventually died down and all that hair grew back.
A few years passed without another thought. The idea didn't cross my mind again until last winter when, literally out of nowhere, that seed finally sprouted and blanketed my consciousness like crabgrass. Committed to finally embracing my inner femininity, I was seven inches into a personal goal to grow my hair out when the impulse to chop down hit. It seemed counterintuitive to me, cutting off nearly a year of progress in favor of what I perceived as blunt masculinity, but as the idea festered, that pop-culture moment that inspired me so all those years ago came back into focus.
Long story short: I half-heartedly fought that impulse to cut my hair for a month and a half until one Saturday morning when the pressure reached its peak, and I caved. And, unsurprisingly, the cut came across triumphantly androgynously, just as I suspected but was too scared to admit. A cropped cut, I realized, is neither masculine nor feminine. It's neutral, which, when it comes to gender identity and performance and all that jazz, is precisely where I need to be.
The neutrality my new buzzed hair offers isn't exclusive to gender, though. In my daily experimentation with clothing (aka getting ready in the morning), I've realized the neutral quality my hair brings to the table allows me to get away with a whole lot more shit without tethering me to any specific mood or look. With my almost-bob of yesteryear, every outfit ended up looking like a ratty, middle-aged woman who owns a crystal shop, regardless of what I had on. Don't get me wrong, that isn't a bad thing at all—It's actually pretty rad—but when your identity is in constant flux (like mine), it can feel suffocating to look so similar every damn day.
Rather than trying to describe just how diverse my styling can be with no hair, I'm just going to roll it all into a slideshow of sketchy mirror selfies taken over the last few months in the wee hours before work (notice how the natural lighting gets progressively brighter as the slides progress).
As it turns out (and as you can see), my buzzed hair has a magic all its own. Or, maybe my hair was never magic to begin with. Here's a hot take: maybe the magic was in me all along.
Nope! Nope, nope, nope. Not gonna say that. God, how cheesy. NOPE!
But I will say this: I do think my buzzcut looks damn good. On top of that, it's damn easy to maintain :')
But enough about me. Here's to you: may you find the hairstyle of your dreams, one that is effortless AND beautiful, one that complements any outfit without distracting from it, one that speaks to your heart and soul, one that is m a g i c.