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Why I Decided to Shave My Head as a Sexual Abuse Survivor

“I’ve been thinking about shaving my head like Rose McGowan in solidarity with the #MeToo movement,” I said to my cousin. We were shopping for a retreat she was hosting for women on the topic of confidence that I was the guest chef for. She knows that I was sexually and emotionally abused as a child and I told her I really wanted to do it as a kind of “f*ck you” to my covertly incestuous mother who always harassed me about my already-short hair.

My mother thought it made me look like a boy. She asked, “What does your husband think? Doesn’t he prefer you with long hair?” He doesn’t care, to be frank. He finds me attractive no matter what my hair looks like and is supportive of whatever I do with my hair because it doesn’t make me who I am. But I digress.

So my cousin and I decided, what better way to show confidence than to shave my head as part of the retreat? We’d let all the women participate and show them you can do whatever you want as long as you are true to yourself. So that’s what we did. When I texted my husband, his reply was, “Awesome. Send me a picture.”

I loved it. Everyone did. It suited me somehow. It made me feel liberated as a woman and it made me feel like a warrior. I couldn’t stop touching my head. I instantly felt more confident. Then I came home and was surprised by the reactions I got from a lot of people. The questions I got were:

“Why did you do it?”

“Are you going to grow it back?”

“What does your husband think?”

“Are you having a mental breakdown like Brittany Spears did when she shaved her head?”

“No,” I replied, “It’s my way of saying #metoo and of asserting that being a woman isn’t defined by what I look like, dress like or how I wear my hair. What makes me feminine is being comfortable in my own skin and loving my body.”

They replied, “Oh, OK. I guess that makes sense.”

I don’t think they got it. Or did they envy me for having the guts to do it? I couldn’t tell. Either way, I felt like all of the sudden, I was put under a microscope and I didn’t like how that felt.

But I’m not growing it back just to appease everyone. I refuse to cave to the “shoulds.” I’ve spent far too much time in therapy, healing from abuse and the subsequent insecurities about who I am to cave to what others deem as “normal.” If I’ve learned anything from the process of healing it’s that there’s no such thing as normal. We are all unique and the way we choose to express that uniqueness is what makes us human. I’m unabashedly and unapologetically me and proud of it.

woman smiling at camera with shaved head

Image via contributor