On shaving my head

(This is a post about intentionally shaving my head. I know that a lot of people don’t have a choice about not having hair; if reading about someone choosing to temporarily remove their hair will bother you, then you may want to skip this post.)

Many years ago, a friend and I discussed the possibility of shaving our heads. I don’t remember what sparked the idea, but I was kind of curious about what I would look like, in much the same way that I’ve sometimes gotten curious about what I would look like without my beard. (And once got curious about what I would look like with blond or red hair.)

At any rate, I continued to be mildly curious over the years, but never followed through.

Until now.

In spring of 2020, I had a haircut at my regular haircut place. I generally went for a haircut about once every six weeks.

But when the pandemic hit, I stopped getting my hair cut.

It had been a long time since I last grew my hair out. I decided I might as well grow it out and see what happened. I like long hair; I just don’t like taking care of it.

(On that last point, I recently figured out that I could go a few days without washing my hair, and still have it look OK; I think previously when I had had long hair, I had tried to wash it every day. So it was easier to maintain this time. It also helped that I wasn’t seeing other people all that often, and when I did it was often on video calls, so just tying my hair back in a ponytail was often sufficient to make it look more or less presentable.)

By mid-2021 or so, I think my hair was at least a little longer than it had ever been before. I started thinking about maybe cutting it off. And I thought that if I were going to cut it off, maybe I should consider completely shaving it off. And I thought maybe I could donate the cut-off hair to one of the hair-donation places.

But a colleague recommended a particular hair-donation place that (iIrc) wanted hair that was a little longer than mine was at the time. So I figured I would keep going for a few more months. But then it was winter, or what passes for winter around here, and I figured I would wait for warmer weather. But then when warmer weather came, I thought I might get a nice fancy frock coat, and that that would go better with long hair than with short hair. And various other things came up, and what with one thing and another, I kept delaying, and kept growing my hair out.

(Side note: When Kam took some photos of my long hair in September, she mentioned that I had a bald spot. That really surprised me; I wasn’t aware of it until then. There’s nothing at all wrong with it; just didn’t fit my self-image.)

Jed with shaved head
Jed with shaved head

Anyway, I recently talked it over with KTO, and she agreed to do the cutting and shaving parts, and I decided it was finally time.

So two weeks ago, Kat followed the instructions on the organization’s hair-donation page, and cut off my hair. And then used a trimmer to cut the remaining hair down to just stubble. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my razor with me, so she couldn’t fully shave my head.

I spent the next week that way, with stubble slowly growing out. Oddly, anytime when I wasn’t touching my head with my hand, it still felt to me like I had hair. When I was outdoors, wind made it feel cold in almost exactly the way that it feels when wind blows through my hair when it’s wet.

Jed with shaved head 2
Jed with shaved head 2

When I touched the stubble with my hand, it felt a little bristly. After a couple of days, I used shampoo and conditioner on it, and it felt a bit softer, at least when I moved my hand across it in one direction. (Still a little bristly in the other direction.)

But I was still curious about what it would feel and look like to be completely bald, and it seemed like this was probably the best opportunity I would get anytime soon to find out. So a week after the hair cutting, we talked about it some more, and Kat completely shaved my head, with a safety razor.

As happens with my facial hair, it’s hard to remove enough of my head hair to make it look smooth and non-stubbly. Kat got it to the point where it felt smooth when I ran my hand over it, which was an odd but neat and interesting feeling. But even then some parts looked a little stubbly.

Stubble, four days after shaving
Stubble, four days after shaving

By a day later, of course, it was back to stubble length. This shouldn’t have surprised me; the same is more or less true for my beard. But somehow I was thinking it would stay mostly-bald-feeling for longer.

And though I thought the completely-bald feeling was kinda neat, I didn’t like it enough to want to put in the work to maintain it. And I like how I look a little better with hair anyway. So now I’m growing my hair back.

Stubble, seven days after shaving
Stubble, seven days after shaving

Remains to be seen whether I’ll grow it out long again (or just grow it to the length I used to keep it at, and then get it cut). I suspect that I will grow it long, because given the ongoing pandemic, I doubt that I’ll be up for sitting in a hair salon yet (even masked) by the time my hair gets long enough to need cutting; but we’ll see.

The main thing that I observed during this experiment is that (to me) I still look like me when my head is shaved. When I shave off my beard, I look to me like another person; but apparently the beard defines my self-image of my face more than the top-of-head hair does.

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