Why I Buzzed My Hair, and Why You Should Too
It was a few days after the snowstorm and the sun was finally shining on campus. The ice had melted, everything was thawing out, and I felt happy for the first time in a while. So I decided to do something I had been waiting on for a really long time: I drove myself to Target, bought a cheap pair of beard clippers, and I sawed all of my hair off into my dorm-room trash can. My girlfriend took the clippers to my head, and twenty minutes later, my long brown hair had been replaced by a short, sharp buzz cut.
I got a lot of mixed reactions about my hair. Some people asked if something had happened, if I had cut my hair off mid break-down in a crazed daze, and, if I was alright? Others really liked it and thought that it was cool, and fun. There were also others that didn’t say anything, opting only to stare open-mouthed (and occasionally asking to stroke my short hair in awe). Mostly, people just asked why. Why had I decided to cut off all my hair? What was it about the buzzcut that I wanted? Wasn’t I afraid of looking too masculine, too edgy, too much like a boy? And why now?
My answer was always that I wanted to. I wanted my hair gone, I was tired of having long hair, and I thought it would be fun. This was all true, but it was also much more than that. So much of our identities, especially as women, are tied into our hair. The way we wear our hair is subject to judgement in a way that it is not for men, and people derive societal meaning from something that has very little inherent meaning. If I kept my hair down one day, people would perceive me differently than if I wore my hair in pigtails the next. A woman with a bob cut may be viewed as mature and professional, while a woman with long hair may be viewed as youthful or carefree. Regardless of how we personally feel about our hair, our culture will place value on the way we present ourselves.
I was tired of it. There’s nothing wrong with having cultural meaning tied to our appearance, but I was tired of trying so hard to conform to how I “should” or “shouldn’t” look. This year has been hard for everyone, and I’ve found myself, more than in the past, trying to cope and find comfort in validation from others. If I was out of control in every other aspect of my life, at least I could seemingly control how people saw me. I could be put-together and stylish and normal, despite the fact that everything seemed to be falling apart.
Yet cutting my hair would be a breach of conformity, a rejection of social status, and a relinquishing of the control that I so wanted. I didn’t buzz my head to see other people’s reactions; rather, I cut all my hair off as a defiance of people’s reactions. I finally decided to do something for myself, to make a decision that I had wanted to for such a long time regardless of how I would be viewed. I just wanted to. I was tired of having hair, and I thought it would be cool and fun. I took the plunge for all of these reasons, despite all of the fears that I had about how I would be perceived.
I thought I would be sad after I did it, or I would be horrified and regret it. But, I didn’t have any of those thoughts. I was only relieved, and the happiest I had ever been with my appearance. I feel so free, of both my own expectations and those of others. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!
There are lots of things that are unexpected about having a buzz cut; one of them is how many people told me how much they wished they could shave their heads as well. From teachers to baristas to fellow students, I’ve had so many people say that they wish they could, but didn’t for a variety of reasons: too old, afraid of looking bad, not brave enough. If you’ve ever wanted to buzz your hair, but don’t for any of the above reasons, then let me provide you with six reasons for you to take the plunge and chop it all off:
- Cutting all of your hair off is so satisfying. Ever taken scissors to barbie hair as a kid? Imagine that, but ten times more fun. It’s a super cool sound, and you can give yourself a bowl cut for five minutes without ruining your life.
- It’s super cathartic, and a great way to release emotion in a way that is constructive instead of destructive. In a lot of ways it was symbolic for me, but cutting your hair like this can mean whatever you want it to mean, and it can be a good metaphor for letting go and releasing the things that are weighing you down.
- It’s super convenient. I never have a bad hair day, and I never have to worry about how to wear my hair in the mornings. It never gets in my way, never sticks to things, and you can see all of my cool piercings all of the time.
- You’ll save so much money on hair products. Shampoo, conditioner, dry shampoo, hair gel, hair mousse, even hairbrushes? Say goodbye. You’ll never need them again.
- The buzz cut is iconic. I’ve never seen a woman look bad with a shaved head, and every room you walk into will notice you’re there. It will bring attention to your features, and make every outfit you wear so much cooler.
- You deserve to be happy, regardless of what other people think. You deserve to be free of societal expectations, and do whatever the hell you want with your hair.
This was my first step to freedom over my body and the way I approached society, and I so highly recommend it to everyone.
I admire this young woman in so many ways. I wish I had half her courage when I was her age. Well done, Ms. Jury!
I’ve Known Hannah since she was tiny. To see her making bold decisions and acting on them gives me comfort that the future is going to be ok. With people like her taking care of the world when my generation is old is going to be just fine.