Hop back to the summer of ’96. I was glued to the TV watching the gymnastics competition, completely fascinated and also slightly embarrassed that I couldn’t even accomplish a cartwheel (Still can’t). What resonates the most with me, aside from the cartwheel-induced-shame, was watching a Russian gymnast prepare for her routine. She had steps shaved into her eyebrow, and the booming announcer’s voice explained that the girl had shaved her eyebrow because it made her feel like a warrior. It’s no wonder I’ve been fascinated by this concept ever since.
It was just my luck that sidecuts crept back into fashion. Not that every single girl was rocking some visible scalp on the street, but it also wasn’t so extreme that so and so’s grandmother was clutching her pearls either. Here was my chance. At 26, my hair had already been every single color of the rainbow, even swampy moss green, which I could tolerate less than a day before retreating back to royal purple. It was time for something new.
It was time to feel empowered – with a startling mix of elegant and extreme, making those two concepts synonymous. I toyed with the idea of shaving my head for a few weeks, gathering opinions and inspiration. Everyone seemed on board. The second I mentioned it to my boyfriend, he was convinced I was going to do it regardless of whatever anyone said. (Don’t tell him he was right.)
So in I went to the hair salon. When I jumped into the chair, I claimed all I wanted was a trim, but my creepily omniscient stylist knew better and gave me a knowing look. “Okay, let’s shave it off,” tumbled out of my mouth.
We decided to only shave one side because initially, that’s all I thought I wanted. But a week later, feeling asymmetrical and incomplete, I went back and had the other side buzzed. I felt strong, as if I should be toting around a massive sword, like some slick character from a video game.
Reactions have been surprisingly positive. You know you’ve won society over when your 84-year-old grandma calls your weird haircut cute. The only bad reaction I’ve received was someone asking me if I had been in an accident. Though it’s far too late, I regret not retaliating with, “Yeah, I got attacked by punk rock.” Really, who can argue with that?
Months later, when I’m usually feeling the itch for something new, I’m still in love with this style. It’s refined but still fairly rebellious. I don’t feel as vulnerable as I used to. Maybe it’s because I defied society. Girls aren’t supposed to, and I say this sarcastically, walk around with shaved heads unless there’s something wrong health-wise, and even then, these girls are supposed to be ashamed of how they look. I disagree.
It’s not just hair; it’s something more than that. I’m taking something that is generally viewed as masculine, and completely off limits to women, and mixing it with my own characteristics. I’m taking it back. I’m taking it for my own.
I feel like a warrior. It’s something that I, along with women everywhere, have been fighting for; engaging in a battle for ownership of our bodies, our appearances and ourselves. So take it. It’s yours. Whether it be hair, clothing or something completely different, it’s your life, so fight for it.
And yes, I realize that last part totally sounds like a cinematic before-the-battle-speech, but that’s the effect this sidecut has on me. Case in point.
Written by Beth Musni
Check out her blog, EveryRoadARunway!