by Tiffani Michele
**This is not your normal holiday tradition post, either. Going into it, I already know what’s in store for you oh gentle reader. And it may be TMI, even for my blogging standards of overshare. If you know me, think you might meet me one day, or have just eaten a meal, it may be wise to skip out on this one. I’m not sure in what order I will craft my masterpiece of a post but I know it will include nipple hair, menstrual blood, and shaved heads. You have been warned.**
Last year, I started a new holiday tradition. I have a bunch of oldie but goodies that I like…advent calendar, fancy hot chocolate and scones, decorating the inside of my minivan, dipping everything I can think of in chocolate, mason jar dessert mixes for presents…but last year I came up with a little tradition I like to call, “Shaving My Fucking Head, Bitches!” Until recently I didn’t know it was a tradition, except as the anniversary approaches I realized that I missed my shaved head and really really want to do it again.
I’m not done with the experience. I’m not done with the delicious way it feels when I shower, or a wind blows, or someone rubs my head. I’m not done with how badass it feels to say “fuck you” to societal norms on women’s appearance. I’m not done with how completely vulnerable it is to shave away something so feminine and present myself to the world with only my face. I’m not done with spending no money and no time on my haircare routine. I’m not done with wearing cute knitted hats to keep me warm and then immediately regulating my temperature by taking the hat off when too hot.
Last year I did it on my own, and month by month a few more friends of mine shaved their heads (and loved it!) until now I figure at least 25 of my facebook connections have done it. This year, I’m giving you, oh awesome reader, a chance to join in if you’d like to. You have a month to think it over, and then on Jan. 1st…BAM, MOTHERFUCKERS! It’s time to take it all off. I’m not suggesting everyone should do it, but if you feel a tingle of anticipation and a rush of excitement just thinking about it then you totally should. Just do it.
Gearing up for this big shave, (and here’s where you should stop reading if you’re prone to queasy) I’m not only letting my hair grow on my head but I’m growing my hair *everywhere*. *All over.* *No razor allowed!* *Anywhere!* At the same time I’m exploring what it means to be feminine without hair, I’m exploring what it’s like to be feminine with hair.
This all came to me a couple weeks ago while washing menstrual blood from off my legs in a rushing river. I was driving up the Pacific Coast Highway to meet 7 friends in Santa Cruz, and I guess the anticipation of so much female power unlocked my inner goddess and she decided to respond by giving me the gushiest start to a period EVER. While I was camping by myself in a clearing, next to a river. I wasn’t due to start my period, but it didn’t stop it from happening when I woke in the morning and stood up to eat some trail mix. With blood running all down my leg I did the only thing I could do…stepped into the running water, crouched down, and rinsed myself. I felt like a freaking pioneer woman or something. Just taking care of shit in a river.
I hesitated a bit, though, even covered in blood with no other option. “Would I be polluting the water? Is it OK, to just rinse myself like that? Is it right? Is it proper? Is it gross?”
And then I thought, “There are countless corporations defiling billions of gallons of riverwater a second, which you’re actually not aware of but probably should be more vigilant about, and you’re wondering if your natural body fluids are shameful? What is wrong with you?!”
For the rest of the drive; after purchasing Motrin, a chocolate bar, and tampons from the nice gas station dude, I wondered about what other things made me feel shameful about my femininity.
Let me tell you, that opened a big can of whoop ass worms.
I realized that from the time I started shaving, around 12, until that moment, that I’d never stopped shaving. That, in fact, I added more and more things TO shave until a significant part of my shower routine was spent with razor in hand.
At 12, it started with my lower legs.
At 14, it was my lower legs, upper thighs, underarms, and general bikini area.
At 16, a friend pointed out that I should start shaving my nipple area because some chicks got hair there. I didn’t, but started just in case.
At 17, a boyfriend commented I had “monkey arms” and instead of breaking up with him I started shaving them.
At 18, it was my lower legs, upper thighs, underarms, half my arms, nipple area, more focused bikini area with landing strip pubes.
At 21 it was my lower legs, upper thighs, underarms, half my arms, nipple area, bikini area, and asshole area. To be a more proper lady, of course.
By 30 it was all that and also my upper arm area and also tweezing my eyebrows and waxing my upper lip/chin.
That continued until recently. In fact, not only did I do that…I did it religiously every other day. I wouldn’t even have sex unless I’d shaved within the day or two. I never thought about it, it was just an effort to be “attractive”, “womanly”, “feminine”. It was driven by shame. Not that the act of shaving is shameful, but how I felt if I didn’t shave was. Why? I don’t know. It’s just hair! But I have no idea what I’m like au naturale. Do I have nipple hair? Don’t know! Do I agree that I have monkey arms? Don’t know! But probably not, since that dude was an asshole and why the fuck did I keep shaving my arms long after he was gone?
A few friends have pointed out that being a single woman is not the best time to experiment with a shaved head and hairy legs.
Fuck that, why not? Beyond the obvious, of course.
Who could ever fall in love with a bald, hairy woman? Who can even like a bald hairy woman who may or may not have nipple hair? Is that even dateable?
And that’s when it hit me. I’m done doing things from a place of shame because I think it will please other people and therefore make me more pleasing. I got shit to work out before I worry about who will or won’t love or even like me. Date me or don’t. Kiss me and my unwaxed upper lip or don’t. If hair or no hair is really a dealbreaker to someone, then it’s best I know that up front because that shit would never work out. None of that even matters until I can answer one simple question:
Can I ever fall in love with a bald, hairy woman?
Not that I’m a lesbian, I meant, you know, me.
Can I like myself even if I’m bald and hairy?
This is the month I’m starting to figure it out. I’ll have a merry christmas and then BAM! Time to shave.
You, of course, are welcome to join me for any or all of this experience.
Happy (Hairy!) Holidays!