I write this instalment of ZFs with a chilly head. Yesterday I shaved my hair off.
Many of you will be familiar with the “I look like a pencil” haircut scene in Fleabag (watch the clip here - we all need some happiness right now). It ends in the universal truth that all women, and only women, can understand.
“Hair is everything. We wish it wasn’t, so we could actually think about something else occasionally but it is; it’s the difference between a good day and a bad day. We’re made to think that it’s a symbol of power, that it’s a symbol of fertility… hair is everything.”
My recent announcement that I was going to shave my head for charity re-confirmed a) that this statement is true and b) Phoebe Waller-Bridge wields a knock-out feminism with a subtlety that makes the hairs on my arms stand on end. The underlying premise - that hair is not simply hair but a political, social and cultural statement - is a unifying fact amongst women.
Thus, hair is a complex topic and so I hadn’t managed to pre-empt the reaction I’d get to going at it with some clippers. A common one from female friends was “nooo, but you’ve got such lovely hair. Are you sure that’s a good idea?” Another response was “you’re so brave!” The final, and my favourite, was “you’ll rock it; you’ve got the cheekbones for it.” The fact that I was already banking on my cheekbones pulling through for me anyway, plus that I had short hair originally and I’m predicting we’ll still be in lockdown by the time it’s grown back, meant that I regarded the The Great Head Shave of 2020 as a low-risk move. That, plus I gave zero fucks about how I would look once shaved. Strangely, other women cared more about my big shave (why does it always sound dirty?) than I did.
Interestingly, every man I told responded with a simple “awesome” or similar. It seems only us women feel the true weight of the patriarchal pressure to uphold the sanctity of the most essential element of our femininity. Men don’t seem to outwardly acknowledge that burden at all, as though it doesn’t exist. They, frankly, don’t seem to care. Funny that. The patriarchy: created by men, dragged through life like a ball and chain by women.
Lockdown seemed to put some of my friends’ minds at ease. The perfect excuse to hide away, should it all go tits up! I could even wear a cap if I really didn’t like it. This speaks more widely to the effect I’ve noticed that lockdown has had on our personal appearances. Most women will agree that there is an inverse correlation between the duration of lockdown and number of days spent wearing a bra. Our boobs are sagging but we’re so joyfully comfortable and so we just don’t care if our tops look like they’re concealing two deflated balloons holding tennis balls. I reported my makeup bag as missing; it’s been 44 days and I worry she’s laying lifeless, moss-covered, under a log on Hampstead Heath. And I see no possible need for jeans.
With the need to go out, or for other people to see us, more-or-less completely removed, surely it wouldn’t matter if I like my new skinhead look? Just like it doesn’t matter if my armpit hair is long enough to plait right now. The thing is, although I’m happy with my Jessie J look on the whole, when I woke up this morning and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and felt a little ugly and “unfeminine”, there was no one there to make me feel “less than” other than me. We don’t need the gaze of others to tell us that, as women, we should feel shit if our hair is shit. We’re ever so good at doing that all on our own.
I told myself that I really don’t care what my new (lack of) hair looks like. Had my cheekbones not come through as I hoped they might, would the story be different? I can’t say, but I do know that lockdown played a part in exercising my perceived “bravery”. However, I will eventually be stepping out into the world with a shaved head as this is the most low maintenance style a woman with short hair can have while the hairdressers are closed. And I’m hoping that when I do, when all of this is over, I’ll be greeted by a few more beautiful, natural women in the streets - tits swinging as they walk, monobrows glinting in the sun as they talk. We’ve had five weeks and counting of getting used to our naturalness, with no occasions to dress up or “look nice” to remind us what eyelashes with mascara on look like. And, let’s face it, no one gives any fucks apart from us.
And, very finally, may I recommend shaving your head: it’s completely freeing.
I shaved my head to support my flatmate running the London Marathon for the Spinal Injury Association. She’s raised 75% of her target at the time of writing and I’d love your support in helping her reach it. I’d love you very much if you would donate.
Want to spread the zero fuck-giving? Pass this on to someone who gives so few fucks they shaved all their hair off two sentences into this newsletter (and they can subscribe)