Hair is a feminist issue. That’s a no-brainer. There are fiery feminist discussions over all kinds of body hair. Today though, today for me it’s just about the hair that grows atop my head.
It was long. And wavy-ish. Curly-ish. Frizzy-ish.
Hair made me distinguishable: I am a redhead. I identify with other redheads, but sometimes if there’s too many redheads around, I’m like— dude, what? I’m supposed to be unique and special! There’s lots of my heroes who are or who were redheads, like Eve Sedgwick and Pippi Longstocking.
My hair has been short before, but not too short. More like, pixie-short. Today I had ten inches cut off, and I’ll bring them to this woman in Vancouver who makes free wigs for kids with cancer.
Long, strawberry blonde hair is part of how I see myself. I love piling it on top of my head when I am working, and the bangs have certainly been a hair adventure. Long hair is part of what screams girly about me. This time, I was shooting for it to get down to my butt. Alas, no more. Of course, long hair isn’t all peachy. It gets in the way at yoga, it takes a lot of expensive shampoo to wash, and it frizzes out like you wouldn’t imagine.
The plan is to shave my head shortly, before I begin chemo. I just don’t want to deal with hair falling out. It sounds simply horrendous to me, to go around the house, hairs floating off your head to the ground. I know it isn’t exactly like that, but its close enough. More and more hair coming out each time you run your fingers through your hair; more and more strands on the pillow in the morning; bigger, thicker clumps gathering around the shower drain. No thanks. I’ll go bald on my own terms.
I’ve thought about this a fair amount. Women with shaved heads basically always look like bad-asses. They don’t even have to do anything, except be in the world with a shaved head, and automatically they are read as bad-ass. This afternoon, I said to my bestie, “Women with shaved heads—” and she finished my sentence, “–are so intimidating. Scary. Like don’t mess with them” I think the woman with shaved head equals total bad-ass is about women saying ‘Fuck You’ to the patriarchy, as in, who cares about my long tresses, don’t mess with me. It’s being aggressive, being a bad-ass, and you all know how I love aggressive. Its kind of awesome.
There’s really not a whole wide array of choices here for me to pick from, in terms of how I’m going to respond to this. People keep saying things like “you’re so brave,” in its various iterations, and yet— I have not done anything, folks. In fact, I haven’t even survived anything except more biopsies than anyone should ever have and some other random, weird procedures. I didn’t go running into a burning building to save someone, or make a speech to thousands or foster world peace, or lift a car off someone pinned underneath, or bunji-jump off a cliff. I just went to the doctor one day, and came out the other side with breast cancer. So, given that there are not endless choices for how to handle this, bad-ass with a shaved head seems like a good-enough bet, especially so because I don’t have to do anything to be read as a bad-ass once I have a shaved head, I just have to take my hat off. I could stand being treated like a bad-ass. It certainly feels more accurate than “brave.”
And if I don’t want to be the badass girl with a shaved head, I can always wear this long, perfectly curled dark red wig. Because you know, a girl needs perfectly curled hair at least sometime in life. Chemo seems like a good time. My real hair will never curl so nicely.
So, I’ve taken another step towards badass/intimidating/awesome on the hair spectrum today. This morning I called and made an appointment at a salon on Main. I knew it was the right place when I walked in, my hair matted under a beanie because I haven’t been able to show-show (as in, shower) since I had my Epic Day of Small Surgeries on Friday. I can’t yet get the port incision wet. Yah, that little collarbone incision is the top incision from the port. I have another, large one and a bump under which a plastic port sits a few inches below. Bionic woman, I am. Since my veins roll and retreat deep into my arms each time they try to give me an IV or draw blood, this thing is going to save us a lot of heartache. It hurt like crazy after they put it in, but it’s getting better little by little.
So, the hair is asymetrical. It’s fun. I think it will be easy to take care of, for the few days I will have it. The girl who cut is was just lovely- telling me about how her chemo clients come back with hair that is super curly. and giving me tips about short hair and buzz cuts and bald heads. I have no idea how it will hold up in yoga!
So, here we go. I start chemo in five days, and before then, I’ll shave this thing. Well, my friend C, who has a bad-ass haircut herself, will shave it. I’m slightly concerned I may have a blockhead, because I recall my brother and father having big square heads when they shaved them in the summertime. I’ve been assured by two hair professionals- the wig-maker and today’s hairdresser, that it seems I have an exceptionally round head. Which is good.
Speaking of hair, there’s a few other things that happened with hair this week. For starters, I shaved my legs, got my hair all rolled up like they did in the 50’s, and took some fun pinups! I mean, a girl must do something when she’s gonna chop her long red locks and start chemo and march forward toward mastectomy. We did all kinds of outfits, but here’s an (unedited) preview.