Hair obsessions and compulsions

By Brooke

I don’t really know why I did it. Except that I wanted to.

There is no worthy cause like locks of love (has my hair ever been long enough to donate??). No statement about society, women, body image, sexuality, race or politics. My awkwardness in the face of comments (even nice ones) makes the idea of doing it for attention laughable. I hate being awkward. And it’s not like I just really wanted to have the same haircut as my son.

But I do now. I buzzed my hair off.

There’s nothing like trying to grow your hair—making a goal out of it—that makes you really want to cut it. So four weeks ago, after stewing (obsessing more like) over the idea of it  for a couple of nights (thanks to amelia and G for stirring it up in the first place), I grabbed some scissors and started cutting the parts that were bugging me the most. Can I just say how good it felt? I have had a (wonderful, talented, professional) hairstylist giving me the most amazing haircuts for the last 6 years. I hadn’t touched my own hair with scissors (except just barely) since I found her. But this night I did, after everyone was asleep, and it was simply cathartic. I went to bed peacefully after a good percentage of my hair was in the wastebasket. The next day I warned my husband and kids before I got the clippers out, put a 1/2 inch guard on them, and began to buzz. And when it was gone, my husband gladly touched up the edges and spots I had missed. It was fun, exciting, and free of charge.

I did it once before, in college. Kind of on a dare. So what if I say I did it this time just to see if I could get away with it again. Out of vanity—to prove I can be beautiful without hair (because honestly, I’ve never had great long hair). To show myself how much confidence I have (my husband would laugh at this one—he’s always the one listening to my self-doubts). Was it because I was coming out of a winter funk? Perhaps an outward manifestation of hidden suffering. Maybe it was just to jolt some normal people out of their normal stupor. Curiosity—I wanted to see if it would bother anyone and who. Perhaps I was trying to add some mystery to my image. Or to say “look how much I don’t care about my looks.” And what about pure shock value?

Whatever my reasons, I’m happy with the results. How liberating not to have to think about my hair (though I think about my scalp more than I used to). But, I put earrings in for the first time in years because I wanted to feel more feminine. And I have been trying to dress less boyish. Really this is all just to say that I have really, really short hair. And I’m just as self-conscious as the next person.


I am a children's librarian. I have 2 kids. I have a professor for a husband. I obsess about writing and about making things.

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15 Responses

  1. Hokie says:

    Wow. I’m jealous. It’s time for me to get a haircut, and I can’t decided whether to keep it long (shoulders) or chop it (chin). I’d love to cut my own hair, but I know I’d ruin it and I don’t have the self-confidence to buzz.

  2. Kim B. says:

    I do not know you, but I love the hair!!! I think you look darling. I also enjoyed your thoughts on why. It is very liberating to cut it all off, although I have never tried the clippers before…

  3. jddaughter says:

    You look stunningly beautiful and awesome. You and Natalie Portman won the bone structure genetic lottery.

  4. Caroline says:

    I love it too, Brooke! Looks fantastic. Only in my dreams could I pull something like that off. I also don’t have the confidence – I like my wall of hair to hide behind at times.

  5. Deborah says:

    Oh, I love your adventurous spirit! And what cool pictures with you and your boy.

  6. Jackie says:

    Beautiful. Really. If I saw you on the street I would stare out of admiration and desire to do the same. And then I would stop gazing for fear that you would notice and think that I was judging. But secretly want to continue the stare in hopes of finding the strength to do the same.

  7. Kiri Close says:

    WAY cool.

  8. elizabeth-w says:

    As a girl with short hair (but not that short unfortunately), I love the freedom of shortness.
    If my hair grew like yours, instead of out and mainly upward, I’d buzz mine, too. I have also embraced my grey. At first they made me feel old, but now I think of them as ‘sparklers’ in my hair.
    Laughing about the earring thing 🙂

  9. Brooke says:

    Aw, thanks for your nice words, everyone.

  10. G says:

    (wow, this has totally made me think about pulling out the clippers again…)

  11. laurenlou says:

    i love it, brooke! i saw you at the claremont conference and have been jealous ever since.
    i understand about the earrings–in college my roommate chopped her hair super short, then spent all the time she saved doing her on her make-up instead 🙂

  12. EmilyCC says:

    If I thought I’d look as cool as the other Exponent ladies, the buzz might be my new recession hairstyle. Meh, another couple months when we’ll be in 110 plus degree weather and maybe I will…

  13. Jessawhy says:

    Great post!

    You know I LOVE your hair buzzed. Like others, I’m jealous that you’re so brave and beautiful. But, I must say I’m surprised to hear you say you’re just as self-conscious as the next person.
    I guess we really can’t know how self-conscious the next person is, can we?

    Also, darling photos with your son. He’s adorable.

  14. Kiri Close says:

    Along the same grain, I’m going honey-blonde & straight soon. Lovin’ the hair/hairless freedom, creativity. Teleology can kiss my jumbo sized posterior.

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