Alright, you knew it was coming: I have to talk about my hair.
Objectively, the hair thing just seems so…trivial. I mean, if a genie came up to you and said, “[Your name,] I’m going to let you live a long, healthy life – provided that you go six months completely and utterly hairless. If you refuse, there’s a 30% chance you’ll die.” You’d obviously take the half a year of baldness, right? I mean, I totally would. Wouldn’t I?
Also, what kind of asshole genie would ask that?
But subjectively, when B-Day (that’s Baldness Day) starts to sneak up on you, it becomes this big, distracting deal. I was tired of dealing with the stress of that when I really needed to be focusing on the fact that while yes, chemotherapy will make me look temporarily like an alien, it’ll also be saving my life. So I made a decision that I was going to take charge of the hair situation. And then I hemmed and hawed about it for a while.
As a woman with cancer, there’s just no getting around the hair thing. As a guy, maybe you can pull it off. Maybe you joined the Marines or you’re taking control of your premature balding. But as a woman, owning the baldness thing takes a whole lot of swag – swag, I am sorry to say, I don’t possess. I dress more or less like a 20-something Liz Lemon (blazers and cardigans FOR DAYSSSS), and the most adventuresome hairstyle I ever had was the full, blunt bangs my mom cut me with manicure scissors when I was 4. I’ve spent all of my teen and young adult years with hair cascading in waves down to at least my shoulders, in varying shades of blonde and brown. I barely even ever wore it in a ponytail. And I’m supposed to jump from that to bald?
Nuh uh, my friends. I need a transitional phase. I need something to help me adjust.
See, when you don’t have any hair, all that’s left is your face. You can’t curl your hair nicely and hope it’ll distract from the zit on your chin. You can’t sweep your bangs down over your eyes to hide the fact that you haven’t tweezed your eyebrows in weeks. Without hair, your face is the main attraction. You’re a walking marquee sign proclaiming the latest features: CHECK OUT MY NOSE. DO I HAVE ANY PIMPLES? I MIGHT KINDA HAVE A UNIBROW. I DIDN’T PUT ON EYELINER TODAY!
I happen to be of the opinion that cancer has taken enough from me, especially when it comes to my femininity. It took my breasts (although my plastic surgeon gave me better ones to replace them, if I’m being honest). It may take my fertility (although the fertility doc says we’ll be getting 12-15 eggies in the freezer by Monday). So if it’s going to take my hair, it’s going to do it on my terms.
I’ve been determined to go ahead with this pre-chemo cut since my diagnosis because it’s basically my hair’s way of saying, “You can’t fire me, I quit!” But I have to admit that the whole ordeal was a lot less frightening because my bold, beautiful friend Katie Bo went before me. Without telling me, she cut her own long, dark, voluminous hair into a pixie and donated the rest to a cancer charity. (I’m secretly hoping I’ll get the resulting wig because her hair is far more beautiful than mine ever was.) Anyway, because she looked so chic, stylish and feminine in her pixie, I was excited instead of filled with dread when I walked into the salon.
I told my hairdresser the situation and warned her that I might burst into tears at any moment during the cut. “I promise it’s not because you’re doing a bad job,” I added.
“Don’t worry,” she said. “I’m going to make you adorable.”
How’d she do?
Truthfully, the experience was far less traumatic than I was expecting it to be. There were no tears, but plenty of laughter. And because it was a laid-back Friday afternoon in the salon, lots of the hairdressers came over to play with my newly shorn locks, apply product and show me all kinds of styles. I briefly sported a fauxhawk, which actually looked cute, if I do say so myself, and may be recreated on a day when I’m feeling particularly bold.
I thought I’d leave the salon in tears, hating my pixie cut. Instead, I honestly love it. It’s a pity that it’ll all fall out by mid-March.