As we enter the new year fresh and are ready for a new start, we also think about what to leave behind. Whether it’s letting go of bad habits (hello procrastination!) or things that no longer serve us, nothing symbolises change quite like a brand new hairstyle – which in this context is shaving my head. 


This is why the makeover scene is such a pivotal part of every movie. Everyone loves to witness dramatic character development because deep inside, we all crave a deeper purpose. 

 

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Makeovers also have the same type of magic in real life. Remember the asymmetrical bob done by Rihanna during her Umbrella era? Though the haircut might’ve not been the sole contributor to her superstardom, Rih’s willingness to take on such a bold shift in image made her an iconic figure in music, fashion and beauty. 

Feeling inspired, I wanted not just a haircutI wanted to shave everything off. I had baggage that was too heavy for me to carry and I needed to shed, ala Britney Spears in 2007. 

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Like most women, I too have felt immense pressure to fit into society’s idea of conventional beauty. My features aren’t the slightest bit sharp, so contour is my best friend. I also have visible acne scars, from years of picking on my skin. As cheesy as it sounds, I didn’t want to work around my insecurities anymore.

So here’s how my journey unravelled, and what I’ve learned along the way from shaving my head. 

Read: How to save your self-esteem from social media

Shaving my head taught me liberation and self-acceptance 

The first time I requested a shaved head at the salon, my hairdresser compared my face shape to an egg (rude much?). I was told that a buzz cut would only emphasise my ‘ethnic features’. Regardless of the discouraging comments, I know I didn’t want another hairstyle that would “complement my face”, I wanted to love my face in its most organic state. 

 

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It was completely unplanned when I finally did it. Without much thought, I allowed my friends to cut off my ponytail first, and then the final plunge: the electric shaver. The whole process was incredibly cathartic; I felt as brave as Mulan when she chopped her hair off with a single swipe of her sword. Everything that was hidden behind my long hair is now highlighted. My eyes appear rounder, cheekbones fuller and ears bigger. I looked softermore feminine. 

I have always turned to drastic hairstyle changes whenever I needed a boost. It started with some simple highlights, and then a full head of purple. But shaving my head gave me a feeling I’ve never felt before. With nothing to cover my ‘imperfections’, I had no choice but to humbly embrace my very human qualities: the good and the bad. 

Shaving my head liberated me. Image: Nia Leah

Shaving my head gave me a different sense of control

Many people use physical transformations as a way to reset. It’s a form of self care too, as quoted by therapist Christy Beck in an article by Quartz. The Covid-19 lockdown has no doubt taken a toll on many people’s mental health, mine included. I grew tired of the mundane routines and the feeling of hopelessness, on top of a breakup from a four-year relationship. 

 

Image: Unsplash/ Marah Bashir

Desperate for control over a life that no longer interests me, I opened up to friends, returned to therapy and got myself a new wardrobe. The buzz cut however, helped me cultivate patience in the midst of this scary but necessary transition period. It’s important to take action in order for changes to happen, but I’ve learned that it’s equally important to slow down and trust the process. 

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I’m not saying shaving my head solved all my problems, it’s certainly not a revolutionary step in humankind either. What it truly did is that it changed my perspective on beauty, what it means to be confident and what that confidence can lead to. It’s empowering to know that you are powerful enough to do what you set your mind to. 

I’m also not saying you should shave your head right now, it takes a certain amount of crazy to do it. But hear me out, maybe we’re all a little bit crazy? Whatever you decide to do with your mane, I’m here to remind you that hair will grow, and so will you. 

Read how accepting one’s curviness changed the way this writer dressed.