Shaving My Head, and How to Survive the Policing of Alternative Black Bodies

I wanted to openly relish in my new color-coded electric clippers I had planned to use to shave the nape of my neck, but it was nearly impossible to do when everyone around me polices my body.

I’m a sound decision-maker, but for those around me? They feel I’m lost and confused when I want to style my body in a way that “isn’t me.”

You know… in a way that isn’t what your family “trained you up to be.” Which can be as simple as wanting tattoos when no one of older generations would ever dare get one.

They tell you what YOU think:

”Oh no no no… You like that kind of stuff on others, you mean. Not for you.”

No no no noknow the difference between styles I like for me versus styles I admire on others.

Why is being sure about what modifications I decide to make to my body such a major concern to others?

Let’s explore this as I shave my head behind my family’s back.

I’ve daydreamed about how I’ve wanted myself to look for over a decade. Written poems, short stories, saved pictures, and drew myself in all the possible ways I wanted to see myself.

But aside from life just happening to stall transformation, there’s also people/society/influences that can pressure us to postpone taking up what we’d honestly love to do with our lives.

Today, I wanted to talk about the physical aspect of running through a gauntlet when trying to just exist in wanting to mold yourself to be more…well… you.

““””

This whole head-shaving experience is fresh in my mind since it just happened, but it reminds me of the anxiety I went through during my ear-stretching journey years and years ago.

It was something I wanted to do, something I researched, and something I paid for with the money I made… yet to this day (a good 5+ years later) I’m still told from time to time that I regret them.

Yes… I’m told what I regret.

Shaving My Head Under a Conservative Roof

Okay, so I didn’t *completely* shave my head.

Just two or so inches from the nape of my neck, up.

But that’s still a big deal! I haven’t had less than an inch of hair on any part of my head since I was a newborn!

It h““””onestly should’ve been a super exciting experience for me, especially since it was something I had planned to (and did) do at home rather than at a barbershop (liberating!).

I was actually looking at how to care for shaved heads and electric clippers… that’s how geeked I was.

But instead of just openly doing it, I had to sneak off to my dad while everyone else was asleep and ask him to start me off, line up my part, etc.

It’s hard feeling liberated when you have to tiptoe and whisper.


My Sound Reasonings for Getting a Nape Undercut

Just like stretching my ears, contemplating new piercings, and designing new tattoo ideas… I think through changes I wanna make to myself, research what maintenance will be like in the future, and if I feel I can personally handle it.

Shaving the nape of my neck seemed like a brilliant idea:

  • It was a subtly edgy look (I LOVE edgy looks!).
  • I could test how well I’d maintain the look without it being blatantly in yo face if I got lazy.
  • I could see what it felt like to have a shaved (portion of my) head!
  • I’d have less hair to maintain.
  • Having less hair to maintain may mean I’d be more eager to wash/detangle/style what’s left.
  • I could get rid of the annoying hair at the nape of my neck that I can never thoroughly wash, pull into a pony tail, and causes my neck stress and overheating even when in a ponytail (byeeee!).
  • I can (I think!) still wear wigs (which I did anyway during days I simply couldn’t with my hair).
  • Hats can still be (and always have been) an option.
  • I absolutely HATE messing with my hair. HATE. H. A. T. E. (So the less hair to maintain, the better!)

Afro-textured hair is something I’m proud to have, and I loooove how others rock theirs. It’s MAGICAL… but NO.

I cannot deal with the mane I have, and ever since I fought to take over ownership of my hair in my early 20s, I NEVER wear it out.

Well, I did for a short time.

I just did twists all over my head, which took 8+ hours to do… Which is something I dread doing. Especially for a style that barely lasts two weeks.

So in conclusion… shaving the nape of my neck? Yaaaaaas!!!

But my family was very firm on their NO!!!

Which is unfortunate since hair just isn’t my thing… so why should it matter to them?

What Your Blood-Boiling Climax Probably Looks Like

The decision to follow through with my choice to buzz the back of my head became stronger and stronger the more eye-roll-worthy the things said to me became:

”You should’ve grown out of this phase back in high school!” (This is a pretty long “phase” then…)

”Stop acting like a child, you don’t need to do that.”

”You don’t take care of your hair anyway, why cut it off and give yourself more work to do?”

”You’re not gonna want to pay and go to a barber every week…” (Helloooo? DIYs exist, and I LITERALLY don’t care how short I cut it. Aside from a lineup, I’m not trying to do anything intricate to it.)

”I just don’t understand why you’d wanna do that…” (There’s nothing you need to understand when it comes to what wanna do to my body.)

”You’re not a singer or tattoo artist, so that style is not YOU…” (Fun fact: you don’t have to fit in a stereotypical box in order to be interested or partake in something you enjoy. #BreakStereotypes2017)

(Said to another in my presence in a condescending tone:) ”She just doesn’t know what she wants is all.”

Warning: do NOT talk about me like I’m a dense child.

Do you get similar comments when you want to drastically change your hair? Add color to it? Wear grunge clothes or platform shoes? Debate getting tattoos and/or piercings?

Yeah? Sucks, huh?

So how do you deal with constant pushback when you are just trying to live your happiest life? (!!!)

You find outlets, you find support, you find solutions.

““Shaving”

What to Do When Loved Ones Get in the Way of Who You Want to Truly Be

When you think of self-care and mentality and the like… you may think of someone who looks more in touch with the flowers than with a studed bracelet. But I feel as though I’ve clung to the concepts of self-care, personal development, and more in order to help me navigate all the pushback I’ve received for my “alternative” interests.

It’s a draining interaction to have whether you live with someone who doesn’t support your personal self-development or not. So I want to be of some help (cause Lord knows I’ve gone through the ringer over the years).

Outlets to Use

Sometimes you’re just trapped. So the best thing to do here is

I’ve written about Amina Mucciolo who suffered from depression and had an epiphany (post-suicide attempt) that if she was to live, she needed to be doing what she wanted to do with her life!

Otherwise, what was the point if she struggled to find joy (or any reason to be completely honest) in living?

It hasn’t made depression disappear, and I’m sure she stills has her share of bad mental days, but it helped her tremendously to just… wholeheartedly be herself.

Trying to fight living up to a standard set for you by society and folks around you is tough.

But your ultimate happiness is worth the battle in the end. 🙂

Where to Find Support

In-real-life friends (if available) is a support system to have… that, and family.

But in case you don’t have those resources, you can find plenty of people with the same passions and mindset as you online! I’m so serious.

I don’t think I’d be as far along as I am if I didn’t have people online in my corner who understood me and kept pushing (and rooting!) for me.

You can find your crew through my community, and other places like Twitter Chats and Facebook Groups.

Your Solution

In most instances, you may just have to bite the bullet when ready and do as you please. I know in most cases I prefer not hearing feedback about what I decide to do to my body.

And if I don’t think I can handle it, I give myself prep time before following through.

Because even though there’s a sense of self-care by doing what makes you happy, there’s also self-care involved by avoiding unnecessary drama however you can.

Something wonky happened to my Resource Library and I plan to add way more to it! 🙂

If you want in on it, and to be a part of my intimate bi-weekly email… sign up here for the password and to be part of the club!

See you soon, lovelies!

Warmly,
Cierra M

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4 Comments

  • Bre

    Congrats!!! It’s great you went ahead with what you want to do. It’s just hair. It literally just grows back.

    October 10, 2017 at 10:32 pm Reply
    • Cierra M

      Woot! Thanks so much, Bree! And RIGHT?! It’s JUST hair! But the way people talk about it ’round these parts makes you think you’re thinking of undergoing lung surgery for fun or something??

      I feel like in most instances, people ROAR in hatred of what you did initially… but then they get over it or tolerate that you’re your own person… whether they like it or not. Haha

      Thanks again for reading!

      October 13, 2017 at 12:56 am Reply
  • Ann

    I can’t tell you how much this really spoke to my heart. I had to “come Out ” to my conservative family time and time again with personal choices i made and make with my body. This was such an encouraging and supportive piece and I’m glad you shared.

    P . S. Remember that time i cut my hair with kitchen shears in the bathroom of our air-b-n-b in Seoul ? I enjoy So much freedom from cutting my own hair precisely how I choose whether everyone else thinks it’s pretty or not !

    October 12, 2017 at 5:57 pm Reply
    • Cierra M

      Ann!

      I’m so so happy to hear that this hit a chord with you (well, it’s bittersweet… I hate that you’ve felt this before!)

      Messages like these are what keeps me going, so thank you!

      And YES! I remember! And exactly! It’s SO irrelevant when people say THEY, or OTHER PEOPLE won’t like what you like… so?? It’s not your body or choice! It’s SO therapeutic every time I buzz the back of my head. I LOVE the transformation! I love doing me for me. 🙂

      Thanks again SO much for commenting, Ann. It means the world to me. 🙂

      October 13, 2017 at 2:16 am Reply

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