During my sophomore year in college, I had a truly enlightening experience one semester in my Psychology class. Midway through the semester, we were assigned a term project that counted for half our grade for the semester. It called for each student in the class to sacrifice something very important to them–something they dearly loved–for two-week period, and then write about the experience of living without it. Some people gave up smoking, junk food, beer, watching television, etc., and one guy who was really into cars, gave up driving for two weeks. My grades were down most of the semester, and I knew my term project would have to be very creative to bring my grades up. I struggled to come up with an idea of something in my life to sacrifice.
On the day before I was to submit my proposal to my professor, I was still undecided about what to do for my project. I racked my brain all afternoon, but couldn’t come up with any brilliant ideas. I turned on the TV and watched Oprah for a while, and the topic that day was breast cancer. A woman in her early 30s on the show spoke about how she lost her hair during chemotherapy, and even removed the wig she was wearing to reveal her totally bald head. I was amazed at how attractive she remained, even without hair. A few minutes later, another bald girl appeared on the show. She was closer to my age, and even prettier than the first gal. I began to wonder what I’d look like minus my sandy blonde curls, which reached my shoulder blades. Then it dawned on me–this would make for a perfect term project. I could sacrifice my hair! Then I immediately thought, “No way! Not my HAIR! It took me years to grow it this long.” I loved my hair, and the thought of parting with it gave me a chill. “Then again,” I thought, “If I do this, I’d be sure to get a good grade for the semester. These women on ‘Oprah’ are really beautiful, too.”
My idea stirred up a lot of emotions in me. I did not relish the thought of shaving my head, but I kept thinking about my grades and how important my education was. If I was going to major in Psycho- logy, this would be an important experience for me. I certainly wasn’t coming up with any other ideas for a term project, and time was running out. I agonized over this for hours that night, and before I went to bed, I decided to sacrifice my hair.
The next day, I met privately with my professor and submitted my idea to him. “That’s the most original idea I’ve ever heard,” he smiled. He then offered a suggestion to help my grade. “Try going out in public after you shave your head. Experience what it’s like to be a bald woman in our society. I think it would make for an excellent term paper.” I cringed at the thought, but I didn’t dismiss the idea. “I heartily approve your proposal,” he said, “and I wish you luck with this.”
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That evening, I went to a wig salon at the mall and browsed at wigs. I found one I liked and tried it on. It was shorter and darker than my real hair, but was the closest thing they had. It looked okay on me, though, so I bought it. I shampooed my hair one last time when I got home, and spent my final night with my hair sleeping in fits.
The next morning, I drove to a nearby barber shop and nervously waited my turn in the lobby. When the next barber was available, he ushered me to his chair and asked, “What brings a pretty young lady like you here?”
“I need you to shave my head,” I told him.
“I beg your pardon?” he replied. “You mean bald?”
“Totally,” I said. “It’s for a school project. I have to be a bald woman for two weeks.
“You’re kidding!” the barber laughed. “Are you sure you want to do this?”
“No,” I sighed, “but I have no choice. I’ve already committed to it.”
“You’re definitely one dedicated student,” he remarked as he draped the cape over my head and fastened it around my neck. My knees were shaking, my heart was pounding and I nearly chickened out, but I remembered my priorities, and took one last look in the mirror as the barber brushed out my hair.
“Hurry, before I change my mind,” I ordered. On went the electric clippers, and the barber raised them to my forehead and ran them over the top of my head, leaving a bare patch of fuzz behind. I couldn’t bare to watch, so I just closed my eyes as they welled up with tears. The barber continued running the clippers over my head, and I could feel my hair slipping off my head. I was already be- ginning to regret what I was doing, but it was too late to stop now. The barber ran the clippers up along my right ear, taking all the hair off the side of my head, and the coolness of the air hitting my scalp gave me a chill. In less than five minutes, the barber had sheared off the bulk of my hair and turned off the clippers. I wiped my eyes and opened them to see a totally different person in the mirror. My head was now covered with mere stubble, and it looked like a dirty tennis ball.
I raised my hands to feel my scalp and just started bawling. “My hair!” I sobbed. “All my hair! It’s gone! Why did I do this?” I felt helpless at this point, when I realized the finality of it all.
“What do you want me to do?” asked the barber. “Should I keep going or not?”
“Yes, please continue,” I sniffed. “It’s too late to turn back now.” The barber coated my head with foamy white shaving cream and carefully shaved my head smooth, using short little strokes that made little skritching noises on my scalp. I didn’t bother to watch in the mirror, and just looked down at all my sandy blonde hair lying on the floor. The barber rinsed my scalp and lathered it up a second time and shaved me even smoother. Upon completion, he coated my scalp with baby lotion to moisturize it and I looked up to see my new look. I didn’t cry this time, but I was still shocked to see myself with no hair. I felt my shaven scalp, and it was such a strange sensation. My scalp was very soft and sensual to the touch, though. I paid the barber for his services, pulled my wig out of my bag and put it on and left the barber shop, full of doubt and regret.
I returned home and removed my wig and just stared at myself in mirror. Tears welled up in my eyes again as I sat there on my bed. “My God,” I cried, “What have I done? I wish I’d never thought of this!” I eventually pulled myself together and tried to carry on with my life. I put my wig back on and to become accustomed to wearing it. It did look nice, so at least I wouldn’t have to worry about it looking phony. I later took it off and just walked around my apartment bald. It felt so strange to not have hair. I kept touching my barren scalp and feeling how smooth it now was. It felt odd not to have hair touching my shoulders. It was all a little overwhelming, and I realized that being bald would take a lot of getting used to. I went to bed that night feeling very confused.
During the night, though, I had the most wonderful dream. I dreamed that I was making love to a gorgeous guy. I had hair in the dream, but he kept running his hand over my head, gently taking my hair off with each pass until I was totally bald. I was enjoying this, and he told me I was now a sexual goddess minus my hair. I was totally enthralled by him, and before long, we were making love in the sexiest dream I’ve ever had. When I awoke, I quickly grabbed my vibrator and worked myself into a frenzy that led to a powerful orgasm. Suddenly, my baldness didn’t seem so terrible.
I had no classes that day, so the day was mine. I got dressed and sat in front of the mirror and stared some more. I began to marvel at my appearance, thinking to myself, “Hey, this isn’t so bad.” I noticed that my eyes stood out more, and my face seemed to have more of a presence than it did when I had hair. I put on my make-up and earrings, and started to put my wig on, but though better of it, and decided to venture out in public bald for the first time. “This is what I shaved my head for,” I thought, “I might as well go through with this.”
I decided to drive across town to a shopping mall where no one knew me. I was terrified as I strolled through the doors and entered the mall, wearing a blouse, jeans, and heels. As I walked in, I could immediately feel the eyes upon me, staring at my bald head. I had never felt so alone in all my life. The sound of my heels clicking on the marble floor seemed even more amplified as I walked along, drawing even more attention to me. I wanted to turn around and run, but I somehow remained focused on why I was doing this in the first place. I walked to the other end of the mall, and encountered a lot of stares along the way, and I could hear some kids making fun of me in the distance. “Look at the bald girl!” they snickered. I held my head high, though, realizing that what these people thought didn’t matter. What mattered is how I felt about myself, and I was beginning to earn a new respect for yours truly! It takes a lot of courage to be a bald woman in our society, and I kept that thought in mind as I passed through the mall, and it gave me strength.
I eventually made my way into one of the shops and browsed at some skirts. The salesgirl smiled at me and offered her assistance and showed me some that were on sale. “By the way,” she said, “That’s a lovely hairstyle you have!” I was shocked (and flattered) to hear her say this. “If you don’t mind me asking, are you bald by choice?”
“Yes I am,” I replied, and explained my term project to her.
“I have a friend who was bald once,” she said. “She lost her hair during chemotherapy. She was beautiful with no hair, but I think you’re even prettier.” I was flattered beyond words. Later in another store, I had a guy tell me that I was cute, and that really made my day.
Of course, my hour-long excursion wasn’t all pleasant. I encountered a lot of stares, and a few rude and stupid remarks. One idiot said to me, “Bad hair day?” and some redneck actually walked up and ask me if I was “one of those Neo-Nazi Skinheads”. I also had a couple people ask me if I was a cancer patient, etc., but it all made for excellent material for my term paper, and I spent most of the evening at my computer documenting it. More importantly, my trip to the mall made me realize that I could be whoever I wanted to be and that it was okay to be a bald woman in public. My self-esteem was suddenly a mile- high.
Throughout the next week, I went out in public wigless to various places, like the grocery store, the bank, the laundromat, etc., and gained more and more confidence with my bald look. I felt especially sexy one afternoon when I went shopping downtown wearing a pretty dress and high heels. After about four days, I began to experience some regrowth of my hair, so I returned to the barber shop and had my head shaved smooth once again.
About the only place I hadn’t gone bald yet was at school. I wore my wig to class because I wanted to wait and reveal my secret after the first week when the professor asked each student to share their project with the entire class and give a progress report. I had gotten a few compliments on my “hair”, and no one had a clue it was a wig. I was really excited as I waited my turn to talk about my project.
The professor called my name, and I stood before the class of 30 students and began, “Well first, do any of you notice anything different about my appearance?” No one responded, so I continued, “Take a good look at my hair. Does it look natural to you?” Most everyone nodded in agreement that it did. “Well, would you believe me if I told you this is a wig?” No, was the general consensus. “Well it is,” I said. “I am standing before you wearing a wig. Why, you ask? Well, for my project, I sacrificed something I truly loved–my hair.” I then slowly removed my wig, exposing my bald head to the astounded eyes of my classmates. Stunned silence filled the classroom, and my professor just beamed his approval. I heard a few gasps as I discussed my experiences to that point, and when I finished, I received a standing ovation from my classmates. After class, several students came over to talk about my new look, and they were all very supportive. I felt so elated that I left my wig off and roamed the campus bald for the first time. I never wore my wig again after that.
Following the second week, I typed up my term paper and turned it in to the professor. He gave me an A+, and even asked my permission to use it as part of a book he was writing–quite an honor! Meanwhile, I was amazed at how my baldness was accepted by my friends, family, and classmates. When I first had my head shaved, it felt like I was losing part of my femininity, but I soon learned that having hair has nothing to do with being a woman–it’s how you feel on the inside that counts. I kept my head shaved for several months after that memorable semester, and experimented with short hairstyles for a few months after that, but eventually returned to shaving my head and maintained the bald look from that point on. Never in my life would I have believed I would enjoy being a bald woman, but a fateful semester change my life for the better. And I owe it all to my dedication as a student way back when.
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