I entered the dance class late. I was rushing from work to make a beginners kizomba class. I walked in and tossed $5 in the jar. Took my sneakers off and laced up my tango shoes. Trying something new. I walked into the dimly lit class and I instantly saw what I perceived as feminine confidence. Hips swayed in slow motion from side to side, front to back. Delicate yet aggressive all at the same time. This dance was for the bold, the confident, the sexy. I shrunk on the inside. nerves high. Interestingly enough, my attention went to every woman’s hair.
See, I am a cosmetologist. every day I manipulate strands of hair that are directly attached to self-esteem. I navigate color and cuts from women trying to fit the mold and those trying to free themselves from it. in that moment, I was in a room full of women, every race, every age, and every body type. The areas that these women were obviously confident in, I was not. They were honoring the silhouette of their frame and how it uniquely moved with the music. Curvaceous women, slim women, tall women, short women all melting into their partner for a sensual dance.
And here I was.
Fighting. Fighting to find something, ANYTHING that would give me leverage amongst these striking women. And there u have it: HAIR. My hair was long with extensions and tied up in a pony tail. “Oh I am sexy, see, I have long hair”. “Oh, I can let my hair down and I will definitely be just as feminine as these women”. It was the weirdest thing. Every solution that popped in my head was directly attached to my hair. Not my courage to sign up for the class, my tango background giving me a unique edge, hell, the fact that I was a WOMAN.
In that moment, I knew I had to do it. I would let go of the thing I nurtured and took care of for others, but didn’t realize the very same thing hindered me.
I would shave my head.
I wanted make sure that as I deal with the vanities of those around me, I was good without the one thing that I manipulated the most. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t allowing my hair to be my femininity, my attraction source for men, the thing that I subconsciously held responsible for making sure I aligned with societies idea of a woman. it was time for me to break the limiting mold I didn’t realize enslaved me. it was time for me to feel my femininity by DESIGN.
And so it was. on Dec 30th 2016, 7 hours before I was to board a plane for Anguilla, I said yes to the ultimate experiment; to put myself in the circumstance that would expose the areas of disconnection lurking within me. I wanted to once and for all move past my insecurities that I beautifully camouflaged… and what better time to do it than at the cusp of a new year, in a tropical paradise, where no one knew me.
Hands shaking, NERVES ON 💯, I called my long time barber friend. Without hesitation he came to the salon, cell phone in hand playing the classic hair liberation anthem, “I am not my hair”. As the clippers started to buzz, and curly hair hit the floor, I was numb.
My head was shaved.
I ran home and threw a few clothes in a bag. Put on an army fatigue cap and arrived at the airport 40mins before my flight departed. The sun started to rise and the sky was absolutely gorgeous. Almost breathtaking. I found my seat, tossed my bag overhead, sat down and starred at the back of the head rest in front of me. I took my hand and repeatedly ran it across the brim of my cap, tilting it up and pulling it back down. Reality was causing anxiety to pulsate more intensely with each passing attempt to take if off. Buckle seat belt sign comes on and the engine began to rumble. I felt the cool air having new and direct access to my neck. a foreign feeling. I shivered. One last attempt, as I became aware of an onlooker in the row across from me, witnessing the dance between my hand and my cap; tempting to take it off, then hesitating. his attention made me commit. not wanting to appear crazy, I took my hat off. I felt a rush of cold air. I took the other hand and touched the top of my head attempting to smooth the non-existing hair flat. [The classic image I saw guys with low cuts do all the time]. Then plane took off and I felt…
…to be continued.