Saturday, July 16, 2011

Taking the Plunge: "Extreme" Hairstyles and Razor Shaving My Head

Look Ma!  No hair! (In all honesty,
it's actually really stubbly because I'm
awful at shaving my head!)

Ever since I decided I was going to have a mohawk someday (very early Freshman year of high school), I knew I had to razor shave the sides at least once.  I mean, if my hair was already going to be so short on the sides, what time would be better?  So both getting a mohawk and razor shaving the sides went on my list of things to do in my life.  Now fast forward to today.  Or last Sunday night rather.  I finally decided it was time to take the plunge.  Getting my mohawk, and then razor shaving the sides weren't simple decisions for me, so I want to talk about the thoughts and emotions that surround "taking the plunge" on extreme hairstyles.

Bold Hair and the Long-Term Commitment:
The first time I tried to put my hair up.
I still didn't want to take the plunge.
This is January 2009
Deciding to chop off all of your long hair (coming from where I was when I first got my mohawk), is no easy decision.  Although hair does grow back, making an extreme haircut an easier and more reversible way of expressing your “alternative” style than tattoos or piercings, it is still a commitment.  If you decide to shave your head into a mohawk, and you don’t like it, you have to live with the short hair until you hair grows back.  I’m very fortunate in that aspect.  My hair grows extremely fast (I bleached it out at the beginning of June and I have over an inch of my roots now).  Some people however, don’t have hair that grows so fast.  Even if your hair grows fast, you will still have years of shorter hair before you will have your old hair back.  My hair was shoulder length when I cut it off, and after six months of not cutting my mohawk, my hair was only a cute pixie cut length.  If I wanted my long hair back, I would have to be patient for years and years.  I did discover though, that I look adorable in a pixie cut, so if I had to cut off my mohawk again, a pixie cut would still be a cute short alternative.

Bold Hair and Reactions from "Normal" People:
I've heard horror stories about how people react to extreme hairstyles, but honestly, I have never really gotten any horribly negative reactions (at least to my face!).  My friends are a very joking kind of group, so they made fun of me, but I know them well and know that they were only joking around with me.  They are altogether very accepting, so suddenly having a mohawk didn't faze them at all.  (I think they may have expected it from me in the first place!)  My classmates and teachers all thought it was totally awesome, so I got lucky there as well.  I've never been obnoxious about my hair in class though, and I always try be respectful by sitting either on the sides of the room or in the back so I don't block other students' views.  What about people on the street, you might ask?  Most of the time they don't say anything.  Occasionally someone says they love it but would never be able to do it themselves, it's interesting, or that I am very brave for having it.  Sometimes people ask to touch my hair, which I generally allow, even if it is a bit weird to me.  I mean, it's just hair with a bunch of hairspray in it, but if I make their day more interesting, that's cool to me too.  I get asked a lot how long it took to put up; to which I surprise them and say 15 to 20 minutes depending on how long my mohawk is at the time.  I think I spend less time on my hair than a normal girl with long hair!  Most of the people that ask me questions or comment on my hair are elderly ladies, college-age "alternative"-looking guys, or African American women.  Little kids are the cutest because they stop and stare or point me out to their parents (who try to hush them up quickly)!  Once I had a little girl point me out to her father, who then told me he loved my hair and asked his daughter if she wanted to have hair like mine someday.  She nodded and he said something along the lines of "good girl!"  However there are some annoying people out there.  The most annoying/rude people are the ones who try to take stealth pictures of my hair.  I mean, if they would just ask, I would allow them with no problem, but they don't even say anything to me.  It's obvious they are taking a picture on their phones, so I don't understand why they don't just ask!  I haven't confronted any of these stealth photographers about it yet, but I might if it starts offending me enough. Do any of you have any experience with these kinds of people?

Bold Hair and Inner Emotions:
My mohawk right after I first got it.  My mom thought it was
so cool, haha!   This is February 2009, about a month after
I first tried to put my hair up!
Emotionally, deciding on a big change like this is a draining experience.  You have all of the long term commitment things to thing about, you’re worried about how you will look, and how people will react, among other things.  But when you actually make the final decision and either go somewhere to have you hair cut, or do it yourself, the adrenaline kicks in and it becoming the most exhilarating experience ever.  When I first cut off my hair, it felt as if a huge weight had been lifted off of me, and I was a new person.  I was still scared about how people would react, but I knew I could handle it.  I’ve always been a shy person, but chopping off my long locks that I used to hide behind forced me to come out of my shell in a way I never could have expected.  Not only could I not hide behind my hair anymore, both literally and figuratively, I just didn’t want to.  I strove to be more outgoing in all aspects; I knew I had to be a lot more outgoing if I wanted people to look past the extreme hair and see me.  I cut my mohawk off once and let my hair grow out a bit, but even the short hair (especially when I dyed it brown for a church trip that I had to look normal for) made me close back up and feel more shy than ever before.  I'm not going to say that I don't ever miss my long hair, because I do all the time, especially after going through all my old photos to find these pictures, but I wouldn't give up my mohawk for anything.  Cutting off my long hair was possibly the best decision I have ever made for me personally.  At the time I got my mohawk, I needed the big change to distance myself from the emotional situation I was in and who I once was, but now I love it for reminding me everyday to be a strong and outgoing person.  As I am always careful to say though, making a decision like this isn't for everyone, and I strongly encourage people to think about it carefully before taking the plunge!  But if you do decide to, I love to hear the stories and see the pictures!

Bonus Picture!
Some people have been asking me what my "natural" hair looks like.  Honestly, before I started coloring it with bright colors, I was putting blonde highlights in it all throughout high school, but this picture is about as close as it gets!  This is in my second year of college, when I didn't get highlights put in, so the light streaks are mostly from the sun.  Hooray for embarrassing awkward photos!
Yay Renn Faires!  This is sometime in mid 2008.
(Good gawd, don't look at my eyebrows!)