i like the person i am without my hair

Bear and I decided to get our hair buzzed together. It was his idea. He went first, and came out looking like summer.

Then I sat down in the chair.

“Buzz it,” I told the elegant French stylist.

She had a good laugh. Then she looked at me hard. “You’re serious?”

“I’m serious.”

She needed some convincing. I promised I wouldn’t be mad at her. I swore.

She did it, a disapproving look on her face. I was encouraging the whole time. When she was done, I grinned at my reflection. “I love it!” I said.

(and then I did this, to be more convincing) 


She looked at me skeptically for a long time. Then she said, “It looks good on you. But only because you are young.”

“Then it’s a good thing I’m here now!” I said, and hopped up.

Bear rubbed my head. “You look great,” he said. “You look like a peach.”

“You too!” He looked really manly, with his very short hair. There was a chance I looked really manly, too. In my own way.

Off we went. It was Sunday evening. There was nothing to do. So I tried on a bunch of my favorite outfits with my new hair. My new/old hair. This is the second time I’ve gotten a buzz cut. The first time was a year ago. And I realized suddenly that I’d forgotten. Over the year, as my hair had grown back and grown wavy and puffed out and done curls and played tricks and I’d trimmed it a little and tried gel to tame it—and I’d forgotten what it feels like to get a buzz cut. The way your ears appear newborn. The way your face is brought into sharp clarification. Everything about it is so present, so eager. So bold.

I’d forgotten the way a buzz cut makes me feel about everything.

It makes me feel bold. It makes me feel brave. It makes me stand out. There’s nothing I can do except stand out. And I remember that I love standing out.

It’s funny, for someone who has been known to feel ugly. For someone who let a surgeon open her face with a knife. I like to be striking. (Remind me to write a whole post on this soon).

But it’s more than that—my hair won’t let me not be bold. It won’t let me not be brave. It won’t let me hide. And so with it, or, I guess, without it, I am my bravest self.

Weird. That not having some hair can do that to a girl.

But fantastic.

I bought a dress I’d been wanting—without sleeves. There was no time to feel self-conscious about my chubby arms, because my hair was commanding all of my attention. My hair had a mind of its own. It said, “Get that dress! Work it!”

(this is my friend Elena and me, working it. at this point i’m wearing her sexiest shirt, just to try it, and my tallest heels)

(we are really good at workin’ it)

It’s sort of amazing, how simple it is, as though I am cutting off my inhibitions with the hair. At a party, wearing the new dress and some very tall heels, I felt like being funnier—like talking more. A girl with a shaved head wouldn’t hold back. A girl with no hair in a long, fabulous dress would have something to say. She would be warm and clever and opinionated. She would be comfortable in her body. Otherwise, she wouldn’t be able to cut off all her hair.

So there. I was.

I hadn’t been feeling particularly bad at being myself before my buzz cut. I just felt better at being myself after. The way I did last time. The way I am pretty sure I will feel every time. Every time I am brave enough to try something ridiculous and striking and sudden. Every time I trust myself to carry it. I trust myself to be beautiful, anyway. Not because of, but just beautiful. Period.

Sometimes your comfort zone is cozy. It’s warm under all that hair. Sometimes it’s good to jump outside it and see how it feels. You might even find out what your ears look like, for real. They’re so pretty!

Or, you know, keep your hair and try something else that’s totally different. That’s fine, too :-)

(this is my more subdued thumbs up. it doesn’t look like I’m doing it right, though. is there some trick to thumbs up?)

*  *  *

Have you ever changed something about your appearance and suddenly felt bolder?

Unroast: Today I love my face. It’s so unapologetic.

This is the story of the first time I cut off all my hair.

Here is a reader pic of herself being sexy and awesome, celebrating her gorgeous body. She sent it to me and I asked if I could share it. Thank you, Kimmy Sue! And thanks to the photographer, CAT EDGE

If anyone else feels like sharing pictures of themselves feeling awesome, feel free! And of course, if there’s cake involved, it’ll go in the gallery.

Here’s a picture of Bear and I, as per reader request :-)

 (usually we smile more than this. but i thought we looked sort of mysterious and dreamy here)


Kate on May 15th 2012 in beauty, being different, body, hair

51 Responses to “i like the person i am without my hair”

  1. Jewels responded on 15 May 2012 at 7:18 pm #

    I love, Love, LOVE that you shaved your head! I am currently in a growing long stage and envy your super short cut. Mayhaps, I will have the guts to go short again soon.

  2. San D responded on 15 May 2012 at 7:18 pm #

    You go with your bad self. ;-)

  3. Maggie responded on 15 May 2012 at 7:25 pm #


    You look absolutely gorgeous! It probably has something to do with a palpable confidence that comes from a liked new haircut (or other change in appearance).

    I’m thinking about this because I got bangs a few weeks ago and, trite as it may seem, like looking at my face quite a bit more. Good stuff :-)

    Hope all is well!


  4. Kristina responded on 15 May 2012 at 7:28 pm #

    i adore you and your buzzcut. i find that, for me, having long hair is sort of like a security blanket; it gives people something to focus on other than my face. i don’t have the balls to cut it off. you have some balls kate!!

  5. Mary responded on 15 May 2012 at 7:46 pm #

    I had my head shaved from the ages of 20-23. I adored it.
    I echo all the feelings and impressions and good vibes you write of having with no hair. I felt bolder, braver, felt like going without makeup more. Of course, with my no boobs, I got mistaken for a boy sometimes. But man, is it tempting to do again!
    You look amazing and sexy, and I know exactly how awesome you feel right now!!!

  6. craftosaurus responded on 15 May 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    “But only because you are young.” Wow, I feel so sad for her. Initially infuriated, but fundamentally just sad.

  7. Rebecca - we are large people responded on 15 May 2012 at 7:55 pm #

    werk it girl! It looks great! You know I’m a fan of buzzcuts for everybody!

  8. contrary kiwi responded on 15 May 2012 at 8:48 pm #

    Yes! I love this post. This is exactly how I feel about my buzzed head. It was my second time doing it as well, and I’d forgotten the lack of inhibitions that a shaved head gave me. All of a sudden I can’t choose whether to be receiving attention or not, because my head is a beacon that gets people staring. And it gets me feeling like I must be brave, because I can do brave things like shaving my head!

    And the best part is that no part of the world explodes or collapses, like sometimes you think it might if you do something so “unnatural”. I don’t get ignored at parties, I don’t get ignored when I need help at a store, I don’t get killer death lasers aimed at me when I walk around in public. I expect people to treat me as though not having hair is perfectly normal, and most of the time they do. With just that leeetle bit of fear/respect/awe that I am very happy to receive xD

  9. Kay responded on 15 May 2012 at 10:50 pm #

    Awesome. It suits you (and not because you’re young!) I want to do something bold/different with the color of my hair, but I’m wondering if it will be too much work to try to be the kind of person who would do that to her hair. lol.

  10. nyssnoo responded on 15 May 2012 at 11:52 pm #

    Pretty pretty Kate!!!!!
    So you just sit down and say buzz it… huh. it seems oh so simple.
    any way i love it!!

  11. morgaine responded on 16 May 2012 at 12:43 am #

    Gorgeous! Can we see a picture of you and Bear with matching buzzes?

  12. morgaine responded on 16 May 2012 at 12:45 am #

    Kimmy Sue, you rock that dress, and I LOVE your hair. That’ll be my next color, when the magenta grows out.

  13. Stephanie Ivy responded on 16 May 2012 at 1:03 am #

    Cutting your hair off makes you stop hiding. I’ve gone pixie-cut several times for that reason. It made me be braver each time.

    Now I’m growing my hair out. I’m not sure if or when I’ll cut it again. It’s different, but I think I remember what having to be bold feels like and it helps.

  14. Dane responded on 16 May 2012 at 2:45 am #

    I feel like this about my mohawk every time I redo the sides. I always forget how much tougher and punky-sexy it looks when it’s really shaved down with a fresh colour on the top. I like what you said about feeling better at being yourself, I really agree with you on that one.

  15. Rapunzel responded on 16 May 2012 at 5:46 am #

    Cute. And I love your big earrings! I never think I could work a buzz just because of how round my face is. I sort of feel like my hair makes my head look less ball-ish. If I shaved it all off, I’m afraid I’d look like a huge beach ball body with a volleyball for a head or something. Or an apple, orange, soccer ball, or any other kind of round fruit or ball I suppose (well, at least my head isn’t shaped like a football or starfruit). And I’ve never believed my neck is long enough to wear big earrings like that, not to mention I don’t have girly clothes to wear them with. I’ve wanted to get a new wardrobe for a long time and have more “girly” stuff than jeans and men’s t-shirts (women’s tshirts are often so thin and flimsy). But my weight fluctuates so often it’s hardly worth the money I spend on clothes anymore, so I stopped buying. Bah!

  16. Celynne responded on 16 May 2012 at 8:48 am #

    You’re really tempting me to get a super short hair cut again. My hair is SUPER long right now, down to the small of my back, and has been like this for years. The most I’ve changed is to cut bangs back in December and half the time I hate them. I used to have hair about an inch long back when I was in high school, or in that range, and I would spike it with gel in ridiculous colours. My father told me I looked like a little old lady, or a chubby boy. I miss the lightness of it though, the ease, the freedom… As much as I love my long hair, I don’t look forward to a summer spent suffering under its suffocating blanket in the sticky heat, or how it gets soaked with sweat when I dance and looks like crud… Oh man, now I’m gonna contemplate short hair all day. All week. Eep!

  17. Mary responded on 16 May 2012 at 9:03 am #

    Awww yes.

    I just went from a short-ish wedge style (i.e., I could, and did, still hide behind my hair) to a VERY short pixie cut. I marched in, told my hairdresser to google Natalie Portman’s old pixie cut, and she worked from that. I love it, madly, and what you said here nails why: it won’t let me not be bold.

  18. Lisa F responded on 16 May 2012 at 9:16 am #

    Talk about working it! You look absolutely, utterly stunning with your buzz cut, Kate. It’s breathtaking on you. I tried something similar (not quite a buzz, but close) and I tried it doggedly, for a couple of years, but it didn’t work on me…so work it, girl, because it definitely works on you!

  19. Eve responded on 16 May 2012 at 9:27 am #

    Your hair looks FANTASTIC! You have an amazing face and it really lets your features shine.

    I chopped my hair yesterday in a dramatic asymmetrical fashion and while I was excited, all I could really think about is, “But what if I’m ugly afterwards? What if I’m just That Thing? What If I come out looking like Kate Goselin before her make-over?” I ended up LOVING it and got some new eye-makeup to go along with, and have all these plans to try some new styles with it. Things I’ve never thought I could pull off or do. It makes me feel more confident, because (like you said about your haircut) a shy, unsure person wouldn’t have gotten herself such a dramatic haircut.

    I love that you had the courage to do this, and that you are working it in your favor. So many people see things like this and say, “I wish I was brave enough to do that.”, but you get to say, “I DID do that, and I’m glad I did.”

  20. Dorothy responded on 16 May 2012 at 11:04 am #

    Love, love, love this post! This is exactly how I feel about having short hair. The pictures of you and your friend ‘working it’ are awesome!

  21. Kimmy Sue Ruby Lou responded on 16 May 2012 at 11:08 am #

    KATE!!! I love the buzz cut, again!! You do look like a peach :) Love this post too, it celebrates feminine power at its best and most interesting.

    Morgaine…thanks! You too can have hair like that…it’s called “Ruby Rush” by Feria :)

  22. Kate responded on 16 May 2012 at 11:42 am #

    @Lisa F
    what’s your dramatic appearance change that totally works, then? Or do you not want one?

  23. Kate responded on 16 May 2012 at 11:43 am #

    I think long hair is gorgeous, honestly. I loved having it, when I did. And your dad should not have said those things.
    When I first cut my hair, my dad and brothers called me a boy for weeks, actually. Then they gave up :-)

  24. Kate responded on 16 May 2012 at 11:44 am #

    You got it! I put one up at the bottom of the post.

  25. Melanie responded on 16 May 2012 at 11:52 am #

    First, I love your hair. The enthusiastic thumbs up picture is awesome. I tried to do that for my dmv photo once. They totally weren’t buying it. Even when I pitched, “I will totally do that to the officer if I get pulled over, so they know it’s really me!”

    That lady in the denim dress is smokin’. I never thought I’d like a denim dress, but I really like that one.

  26. Kate responded on 16 May 2012 at 11:53 am #

    LOL!!! I wish they’d let you!

  27. margosita responded on 16 May 2012 at 12:01 pm #

    I love it! It makes me want to get a buzz cut. I have long, curly hair that everyone sort of loves. It is, hands down, the thing I get complimented on the most. I’ve cut it short before, and dyed it and until I read this post I don’t think I felt all that attached to it. But thinking about buzzing it off makes me realize how scary that would be, to suddenly be without this really identifying feature.

    Yet, I’ve always thought I’d cut it really short after I have a baby or if I were traveling for months. It’s a lot of work to maintain and both those scenarios seem like a good occasion to cut that worry and time out of my days!

  28. Krystina responded on 16 May 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    Very cute Kate!! I am almost done with my 12 months of chemo and my hair is growing really fast! Thank God!! I have a feeling I won’t get to keep it though so I am enjoying it while I have it! I know my brain tumor will eventually come back – it’s just a matter of time. You are the one who gave me inspiration to go ahead and shave my head a year ago. I needed that push! Plus, you looked so good I felt I had nothing to lose. So thank you for letting me release those fears and stepping it up. I have had fun over the past year growing my hair out and trying to tame it at all these different lengths. I always love your posts about hair – because it is a subject that has affected me so much and I always feel silly worrying about my hair when I should be worrying about cancer!

  29. Liz G-D responded on 16 May 2012 at 2:21 pm #


    I just read this article before I read your blog. I love your buzz (and I loved mine in 2006). Just thinking about all this myself and thought I’d share! Hugs.

  30. Emily Merkle responded on 16 May 2012 at 3:45 pm #

    you rock, so hard!!

  31. Megan responded on 16 May 2012 at 4:13 pm #

    The thought of cutting my hair even as short as my chin makes me feel panicky, let alone buzzing it. But, woman, you look amazing.

    I think the reason I could never do that is because my hair is my one feature that is always complimented; therefore, it’s my favorite feature. So if I do something crazy, it’ll have to be something else. I’ve been considering a tattoo—although that’s sliiiiightly more permanent than a haircut.

  32. Brandee responded on 16 May 2012 at 10:05 pm #

    I just commented on your last post, so I hope you don’t mind me posting again, so soon…

    I really like that cut on you. I’m still a fairly new reader to your blog, but every time I read your post, it reminds me of something I’ve gone through and makes me feel better about my life.

    I cut all my hair off last year, and I definitely agree with you — getting it all off is such a freeing, amazing experience that can really set you apart and make you feel pretty durn good. Thank you so much for sharing. Stay bold!

  33. Madeline responded on 17 May 2012 at 2:25 am #

    You look rad Kate, I love it!

    I’m curious, what made you want to really go for it again? Was it just spur of the moment kinda thing?

    I keep flip flopping about my hair – would love to try a pixie, but have been growing my hair out for about a year – I wish hair grew more quickly, and then there’d be so much less agonizing about going for a bold cut or color!

    For me I want the pixie partly cause I think it would be fun and cute, but mostly because I take long enough to get out the door in the morning and I find hair washing/styling/grooming blah etc to be super tedious. But I fear that choosing a cut cause it’s easy would mean I’m giving up on the effort it takes to have pretty long hair… oh crazy societal messages about women and our hair!

  34. Jo responded on 17 May 2012 at 5:32 am #

    Kate, what a fantastic way to draw on a different part of your personality, I love the confidence it gave you and the different perspective on life. I’ve just gone from blonde to brunette – not half as daring – but the response from others has been fascinating and I feel kind of perkier just for the change of colour.

  35. Jennifer responded on 17 May 2012 at 6:36 am #

    @Kimmy Sue (the pictures at the end of the post): my first thought was of Mad Men’s Joan.

    I adore Joan and her dangerous curves. She liberates me from feeling ashamed of the parts that round out (or round in, as the inner thighs do).

  36. Rachel responded on 17 May 2012 at 10:36 am #

    I always say a truly beautiful woman can do a buzz cut. You look great!

  37. Ilana responded on 17 May 2012 at 10:45 am #

    I love it! I also have very short hair, though I’ve never had a full buzz cut (shortest my hair has been is about 1 cm long). You look great, and you’ve underlined all the reasons I love having short hair- it’s easy, I feel elegant, I feel powerful, I feel strong.

  38. Eat the Damn Cake » little victories: the kind of beauty that stands out in a crowd responded on 17 May 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    [...] the buzz cut piece reminded [...]

  39. Friday Favourites » Amy Elizabeth responded on 18 May 2012 at 4:02 am #

    [...]  I like the person I am without my hair - I want Kate to be my best friend even more now [...]

  40. Karen responded on 19 May 2012 at 8:56 am #

    I love this post. For me finally going copper with my hair did just the same: totally and utterly being me is so liberating.

  41. Kae responded on 23 May 2012 at 12:04 am #

    Congratulations on your new haircut! I love that it was a joint husband-and-wife venture – that is seriously awesome!
    I used to have really short hair too – it started out by accident, I was 16 or so and fed up with my hair, and said to the hairdresser, “I’d like one inch off, with layers” – or so I thought! I ended up with my hair one inch long (with layers). I was really shocked at first, but I grew to love it and in the next few years experimented with growing it back and then, getting it cut shorter and shorter. So I totally get the thrill about the buzzcut – and it’s really apparent in the photos, you look absolutely radiant!
    In the last two years or so, I’ve been growing my hair back – it got to shoulder length last spring, and then I got it cut off again (after a break-up), but that time not ultra-short, but experiment with asymmetry… Anyway, I got my last haircut last September or so, and have been pushing my boundaries with growing it back since then! While the really short hair thing was about liberation and a “daring to be different”-kind of femininity, this longer hair (with layers from earlobe-length to creeping over my shoulders) is about a different kind of woman-ness… I sometimes still see a woman with short hair (like on your blog) and I think, “wow, she looks really awesome with that look – maybe I should just get my hair cut off again, too!” – but, for now at least, I like the longer hair on me… Now I’m experimenting with styling and taking care of long(ish) hair, and that’s a whole different kind of challenge! (I have no idea how to “do” your hair “up” at all… I find the whole “ballerina bun”-thing quite intriguing though!)

  42. Gina responded on 23 May 2012 at 12:07 am #

    That was cool and brave and liberating and fun. But of course, I have to ask, did you donate your hair to chemo-balded women? Don’t know if you had enough length, but if so, hope you shared it!

  43. Heather responded on 23 May 2012 at 10:13 am #

    I love that you are able to do this and be proud of it. Personally, I know I’m not strong enough and still do hold a vain attachment to my very long hair. I often wonder what it would be like to go Natalie Portman in “V for Vendetta” and just get rid of it but alas I doubt I ever will.

    Kudos to you!

    Sidenote – I love your blog. I found you on The Frisky and followed you to here. I read every day. Feels like I’m reading my own mind – short of the fact that I’m not living in New York =)

  44. Dominique responded on 23 May 2012 at 1:19 pm #

    I stumbled on this via the Huffington Post. Your story and pictures are great. In college, I had my hair in dreadlocks for about 2 years and then shaved my head when I got rid of the dreads. It was an amazing experience, for all the reasons you described as well as the immense freedom I felt with very short hair, and one I hope to repeat at some point. (Unfortunately, I was in a motorcycle accident abroad last year and the scars on my face, although relatively small, make me hesitant to drastically change my hair.) Around the time I had dreads and shaved my head, I read the book Rapunzel’s Daughters: what women’s hair tells us about women’s lives by Rose Weitz. I would highly recommend it to anyone exploring the question of how our hair fits into the image we present to the world. She also explores changes in hair trends and the different aspects of our hair that we can or cannot control and how that affects different women.

  45. Heavy responded on 29 May 2012 at 11:42 pm #

    Fantastic post! I’ve been braiding my hair for a year (I’m black) to give it time to grow out all the chemically straightened hair on my head. In two months I plan to take out this last set of braids, cut off all the straight and have an Afro for the first time since I was 8 years old. I have been *terrified* of wearing my hair naturally my whole life and I’m loving that I’m finally ready to do it. I can’t wait! I think it will force me to live boldly in a way that I haven’t ever before. I shall send you before and after pics!

  46. Heavy responded on 29 May 2012 at 11:42 pm #

    Oh and the buzz looks wicked on you!

  47. Kate responded on 30 May 2012 at 12:37 am #

    I can’t wait to see your pics!!

  48. Eat the Damn Cake » the girl someone should write a book about responded on 03 Jul 2012 at 1:12 pm #

    [...] normal (although I see women with hair as short as mine plenty in this city. Hell yeah, NYC!), but I didn’t think that made it crazy or unhealthy or ugly. Perhaps naively, I am surprised when the world [...]

  49. Eat the Damn Cake » getting better at being embarrassingly earnest in a snarky world responded on 05 Sep 2012 at 12:44 pm #

    [...] was a long time ago. I’m better now, at being the way I am. I’ve shaved my head. I’ve told a few of my sadder [...]

  50. Eat the Damn Cake » the epic tale of how I stopped using shampoo responded on 06 May 2013 at 9:18 am #

    [...] combed the vicious knots out of it. It took forever. I grew it down to my waist as a teenager, and later walked into a barber shop and asked for a buzz cut. My hair and I tend not to get along—you could say we have a kind of persistent, bitter rivalry [...]

  51. Eat the Damn Cake » what older women should look like responded on 02 Apr 2014 at 10:40 am #

    [...] so it’s practically irrelevant. Sounds like fun! I picture myself, seventy-seven and sloppy, my hair buzzed for convenience, sunbathing in the floppy nude on a European beach. Now that’s the [...]