bald and exposed

A couple things.

I’m writing a column for The Frisky now. It launched yesterday. This is my first piece for it. It took me around four hours to write, because I was so nervous. I have never written a column before. I started to write a column for Home Education Magazine and then the whole magazine fell briefly apart. I think it’s starting up again soon. So really, this is my first time writing a column. I read some other columns, and they were really funny and clever and involved lists of things. Instead of being especially clever and writing lists, I decided to be myself and write some more about body image. I did that. I hope it’s OK.

Tomorrow I am leaving for the Virgin Islands with my family, because my parents won a week-long trip. I wrote a post about being scared to wear a bikini during this trip. Then I went to H&M and bought a gold one.  It doesn’t have a terrifying face on it, like the really cool one in my post. I didn’t have time to get that one. In preparation for the trip, I decided to get my hair buzzed again (it’s really obvious how fast it grows when it’s so short). Last time, I went with Bear to a fancy salon, where I paid somewhere around $60 (holy shit) for a stylist to unwillingly and disapprovingly buzz my hair. This time I went to a barber. A burly Russian guy was happy to cut my hair off for $15. He did it even shorter than before. I am almost bald. It is a little scary.



The whole time he was talking and talking, and I told him about the trip and he said he wished his synagogue had contests for trips like that. So it turned out he was Jewish, too! I felt at home. And then my head was really naked and these guys stopped in the street and gestured at me, grinning and talking to each other. I was wearing the dress from this post. I felt like an alien. And this person who I couldn’t tell if they were a woman or a man said, “I love your hair!” Which made me feel a little better.

And I am about to meet up with my brother-in-law, who is back from a year in Australia, and who is very cool and very confident and who all my friends are like “Oh my god, he’s so incredibly hot!” about, and who I have only been around like five times. And I think there’s a chance he’s going to think to himself, “Who is this weird girl my brother married? She is totally bald and crazy!”

I realize that there is basically no way for me to look normal at this point.

“What do you do?” the Russian Jewish guy cutting my hair asked.

“I’m  a writer.”

“What do you write about?”

I thought about it. I still don’t know what to say. “Body image, mostly,” I said.

He was silent for a long time, thoughtful. Then he said, “Interesting.”

“I think so,” I said lamely. But really, I didn’t feel that lame.

“What does your husband think about your hair?” he asked.

“I think he likes it better long,” I said. “But he likes it short, too.”


“But it’s my hair anyway.”

“You should be happy.”

I wasn’t sure I was happy after. Maybe I’d gone too far this time. I looked like I was trying to prove something.


Am I trying to prove something? I wondered.


People were staring at me everywhere I went. I couldn’t tell if it was good or bad, but since I was nervous I leaned towards guessing bad.

I am about to hang out with my brother-in-law, and it’s clear that I have to be really, really awesome, to make up for having no hair. But he’s definitely cooler than me, and he will definitely see through my awesome act. So maybe I will have to resort to just being me. Like with the column. Mostly because I suck at pretty much everything else.

I hope he likes me.

I married his brother. We’re family now. Family is a funny thing. It’s funny how you might not even really know people in your own family.

It’s funny how you can be willing to look really bold but also feel secretly really shy.

Secretly, sometimes I just want to look totally normal. After all of my hair was gone this time, I felt this sinking sense of dread. It was too late! Now I would have to stand out even more! No turning back! I don’t even know where to find a good wig!

Shit. I’m going to just have to be myself. Totally exposed. I’ll just have to figure it out.

I think that’s a big part of why I keep doing this, anyway.

(this is how i take photos. with a laptop)

* * *

Do you ever finding yourself forcing yourself to be more like you? Is that too philosophical a question?

Unroast: Today I love the way my lips look with just a touch of vaseline. Does anyone else put vaseline on their lips all the time?

Speaking of cutting off hair (which I always seem to be these days), this reader sent me a photo of  herself after she cut off TEN inches of her hair and dyed it platinum. She said she read my posts about hair for courage before she did it. (Yay!!) The first thing I thought when I saw this was “elfyn queen.” Which is pretty much the biggest compliment ever, as far as I’m concerned. Had to share.

AND another fabulous reader cake pic for the gallery!! I wish I wasn’t hungry as I was posting this…Also, that is my favorite expression, on both of their  faces.


Send me yours!


Kate on June 8th 2012 in beauty, being different, body, family, hair

46 Responses to “bald and exposed”

  1. Kimmy Sue Ruby Lou responded on 08 Jun 2012 at 10:51 am #

    the more i force myself to be my self, the more i realize that it is only in the ABSENCE of force (and more importantly, resistance)…that i find myself, quite naturally…you’re getting there miss kate!

  2. Frankie responded on 08 Jun 2012 at 10:51 am #

    Loved your piece in The Frisky. And I think you’re amazing and brave and beautiful for buzzing your hair. I don’t think I could ever do that and it makes me sad. Remember to put sunscreen on your head at the beach- so your head doesn’t get burned!

    Also, I agree that elfyn queen is the best compliment ever, and that your reader totally deserves it. What a beauty!

  3. Maureen responded on 08 Jun 2012 at 10:54 am #

    I think your hair cut looks great. I shaved my head in college, about as short as yours is. I loved it, but I did get a lot of looks, which made me uncomfortable. However, it also made me realize that I’m a short hair person. I just feel more myself that way.

    Enjoy your trip and remember to wear a hat. Scalps burn. Ask me how I know!

  4. Erin responded on 08 Jun 2012 at 10:57 am #

    Your hair is fantastic. It looks fantastic on you. Stop questioning it!

    In highschool, I cut my hair really, really short. It was winter and I wore wool hats to keep my head warm. We weren’t allowed hats in school, but I was a rebel and I wore one anyway and just took it off when anyone scolded me. It was the beginning of the semester and I was reporting to a new class for the first time when the teacher asked me to take off my hat. I started to comply, when she saw my head and gasped, “Ohmygosh I’m so sorry! You can keep it on!”

    And I was like, “Awesome, thanks!”

    And then I realized that she thought I had cancer :/

    I’m surprised that you get strange looks in NYC, but in my small town I learned quickly that the only girls with hair as short as mine were skinheads and cancer patients. I could tell when people were sizing me up and trying to figure out which I was (neither!).

    You’re an anomaly. People probably stare not because they disapprove, but because they’re referencing their mental database for info on bald girls and crossing things off in an effort to figure you out. Just save them the effort and tell them that you’re bald because you’re fabulous.

  5. Caitlin responded on 08 Jun 2012 at 10:57 am #

    I think your haircut looks fantastic – so dramatic! I always stare at women with short hair on the street, trying to picture it on me. I try to always compliment them, as well, so they know why I’m staring.

  6. Sam responded on 08 Jun 2012 at 10:57 am #

    Your hair looks AMAZING. And i love, love, love your earrings.

  7. San D responded on 08 Jun 2012 at 11:11 am #

    Great article for The Frisky! I hear your voice, and that is most important when writing. Your “head” looks adorable. Bring sunscreen and a hat though, because well, you are exposed “up there”. Bear’s family, from what I can see, sees you as a breath of fresh air…a sprite…and I am sure his brother is looking forward to seeing you with a smile. Enjoy!

  8. Cara responded on 08 Jun 2012 at 11:21 am #

    Kate, I read your blog religously , have done for years. I’ve been captivated by your writing about your life and loves, and always so inspired by your self respect and sense of self. You and Bear’s relationship is what I aspire to have. This is the first time I’ve seen you have real doubt in yourself and it compelled me to comment. You wear your style darling, it does not wear you, and you wear it well. In the absence of the distraction of hair all one can see, must see, is that beautiful face, those eyes, lips, that bone structure. I don’t think you brave for buzzing as it highlights your beauty. And it will look killer with a gold bikini and I’m sure lots of amazing accessories, as is your style. Just sayin’…

  9. Melanie responded on 08 Jun 2012 at 11:26 am #

    I think the shorter buzz is even MORE stunning then the super short shag. Really I do.

    I have often pondered getting a cut like Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby, but I don’t think it would compliment my very round face well. So I stick with my really severe a-line. It suits me.

  10. Amy responded on 08 Jun 2012 at 11:57 am #

    Congrats on your column!

    Please don’t worry about what your cool brother-in-law thinks of you! If you’re anywhere near as charming and adorable in real life as you are on this blog you have nothing to worry about! Plus, he probably doesn’t think he’s cool, and wants to impress you too! I know when my brother brings home girlfriends I want them to like me, as much as I’m sure they want me to like them!

    I love that bit about family, how it’s always kind of growing and you can absorb new people into it so readily. It’s one of the best parts about being in a relationship – extra family and friends.

  11. Liz responded on 08 Jun 2012 at 12:26 pm #

    I think it’s important to experiment with looks and hairstyles and all that. Sometimes it feels funny after making a bold change. Either way, haircuts aren’t permanent, so it’s cool to go nuts now and then with them. Personally, I’ve been doing that dye, and I’m having a ton of fun with it! :)

    Have a blast on your trip! I don’t see a big difference in your hair, but maybe I’m bad about noticing things like that. I notice your pretty eyes and face, first!

  12. Joy responded on 08 Jun 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    Both you and your brave reader look fabulous! I’ve had “boy short” haircuts, but never all-out buzz. I think your facial features are beautifully highlighted with your hair now. So way to go, wear it proudly!

  13. Mara responded on 08 Jun 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    My freshman year of high school, I cut my hair off up to my ears. Previously it had gone all the way down to the small of my back, this long thick curtain of hair. I’d just gotten sick of it. XD
    Short hair wasn’t really my thing. The reduction in the amount of shampoo I used was wonderful, but I let my hair grow out again because I missed it. Kudos to you for keeping it off, though! :D

  14. T.K responded on 08 Jun 2012 at 1:46 pm #

    @ Kate – talking about Russians and gorgeous sexy bold ( in every sense of that word) women – did you see the vodka commercial for a Russian vodka ( i forget which) but they use a model with buzzed hair ( she doesn’t drink and drive, she takes her jet)? I hope you’ve seen it. made me think of you. She is smoking hot and her character is a conventional kind of hot. They could have used any model for that part, but they chose her. Probably because in addition to being hot and conventionally pretty, she is also striking, which the long haired models don’t have.

  15. Dorothy responded on 08 Jun 2012 at 1:51 pm #

    You can’t hide!!! And that’s okay because you look great! Have a great trip and make sure you put sunscreen on your head – trust me, that is an incredibly painful burn.

    Your elfin queen reader looks great too!

  16. Twyla responded on 08 Jun 2012 at 2:15 pm #

    I like the short buzz even more.

  17. NB responded on 08 Jun 2012 at 2:17 pm #

    So much wonderful, all up and down and elfin and woodland nymphing all over this post (You too, you know, with your daring, striking, close-cropped head. You look like perhaps you could flit between the trees with a bow and arrow and pretty wicked aim).

    …I would, however, like to second the reminders about sunscreen. It’s hard to be any kind of bounding woodland hero when your scalp is fried to crispy little bits. Ow.

  18. Bianca James responded on 08 Jun 2012 at 2:21 pm #

    I rocked this look for about two years, it’s just a teensy bit longer and blonder now:

    I think super short hair with earrings and lipstick is super hot! Of course, everyone assumes I’m a lesbian, but I don’t really care.

  19. Alice responded on 08 Jun 2012 at 2:38 pm #

    Elfyn queen? Definitely the best compliment ever, thank you! Your buzzed hair looks beautiful, and suits you. Prior to cutting off my hair, I had enviable hair. Long, thick, just the right amount of curl, blond highlights (paid for) – which may be why I kept it long for so long. How could I cut such pretty hair? And although it looked fine, it wasn’t nearly as flattering as the short (elfyn queen!) style. It wasn’t me. I have never felt more like myself, never felt prettier or more comfortable in my own skin, than I do right now with almost no hair. Some people feel like that with long hair, or dreadlocks, or bald. The important thing isn’t really the hair, but what makes us feel our best. I live in the suburbs of northern VA; not exactly known for an abundance of fashion risk-takers. I no longer blend in no matter what I wear or where I go. That’s ok now, I was ready for that. It may have taken me 36 years, but now I can honestly say that I am comfortable being my authentic self, inside and out. When people have negative reactions to my hair (which baffles me on so many levels), it says more about them and their own insecurities than it does about me and my hair.

    Great post, as usual, Kate!

  20. Annie responded on 08 Jun 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    So at first when I was reading this, I wondered why you would care more what your brother-in-law thinks of your hair than what your husband thinks. But then it occurred to me that it is probably just because you know your husband loves you no matter what your hair looks like, which is great! At the same time, though, I don’t think you should worry too much about your brother-in-law, because he’s not the one you’re spending the rest of your life with!

  21. Lacey responded on 08 Jun 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    Bad. Ass. You’re so awesome! I can totally identify with the feeling of having to force myself to be more like me – but I think maybe that’s because I’m always so tempted to cover myself up in an attempt to appear “normal.” But heck, normal is so boring.

  22. Emily G responded on 08 Jun 2012 at 3:36 pm #

    I have dreadlocks that are over two feet long. And they get a lot of attention–mostly positive. But sometimes I think that I just wish I had normal, smooth hair because then I’d be more conventionally attractive. Or I think that I need to dress more plainly because a white girl with dreadlocks is one thing, but a white girl with dreadlocks with crazy clothes is a whole other thing. I’m especially nervous around my boyfriend’s father because he’s a very conventional, non-urban man. I feel like I need to up my I’m-social and not-weird persona in order for him to make sense of his son’s relationship with me.

  23. Helen responded on 08 Jun 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    I actually like it even better shorter! It looks awesome!!

  24. Lynn responded on 08 Jun 2012 at 5:09 pm #

    You look like a Warrior, and by that I don’t mean that you look violent or masculine. You look Strong, Brave, Sensual, having the short-hair makes it look like you’ve embraced your inner woman-ness :)

  25. Kate responded on 08 Jun 2012 at 5:14 pm #

    My god, thank you guys so much for these incredibly kind words! Here I am, feeling uncertain, and you are telling me I look like a warrior (thank you, Lynn!), and like I could potentially rock a bow and arrow (thank you, NB!), and that it looks better even shorter. THANK YOU.

    I needed that today! Suddenly, I feel the slightest bit like a warrior.

    Everyone was staring at me on the subway, but I felt like maybe some of the stares were positive this time :-)

  26. Kate responded on 08 Jun 2012 at 5:14 pm #

    @T.K. I NEED to see this!! Is there a stand-alone clip somewhere?

  27. Kate responded on 08 Jun 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    @Bianca James
    HOLY SHIT you’re hot!

  28. Kate responded on 08 Jun 2012 at 5:20 pm #

    Oh, and thank you to everyone who told me about sunblock on my head. Yes. You’re totally right. I was out in the sun briefly today, and I could feel my head start to burn. I feel like a little boy. I remember my brothers used to get buzz cuts when they were little.

  29. Sarah the Violinist responded on 08 Jun 2012 at 5:53 pm #

    Kate, I love the look! As everyone has been pointing out, it puts all the emphasis on your striking and gorgeous features.

    It’s funny you posted about haircuts today, as I have been a short-hair person for more of my life than not, as I think it suits me and my quirks better. In an effort to stretch myself, though, I’m making an attempt to grow it out and look more conventionally pretty (I’ve also gained about 20 lbs in the last year and want to explore this soft-feminine thing). Every time I go for a trim my stylist has to talk me out of cutting it again; instead of feeling “feminine” and “pretty,” I feel dumpy and ordinary. :p I suspect that by not allowing the way I look to correspond to my personality I’m forcing myself to figure out EXACTLY what’s inside.

    Thanks for the insightful post, and have a great time on your trip!

  30. Stephanie responded on 09 Jun 2012 at 12:16 am #

    Kate, this is the first time I’ve been too inspired to not leave some kind of comment. I can’t believe that a few millimeters could make much difference, but this even-shorter-than-the-already-short-buzz cut has taken your features to new heights of awesome! A-mazing.

  31. J responded on 09 Jun 2012 at 12:47 am #

    I put vaseline on my lips all. the. time. I’m addicted. Sometimes I can feel that my lips are still moist from the last time I put it on, but I keep rubbing them together and they somehow still feel dry. I have a problem.
    In other news, do you have the biggest eyes in the world or…

  32. Carolyn responded on 09 Jun 2012 at 7:52 am #

    I think you look bad ass. And not in a biker-tough way, but a feealess, carefree way. It looks easy and fresh and different, and people strae because it makes you stand out like a bright crayon in a box of number two pencils. That’s why I’d look, anyway.

    I am getting a rather large tattoo in ten days, and I’m nervous and excited. It’s funny that you asked about doing things to make you feel more like yourself. I just thought yesterday that my tattoo is perfect, and very much “me,” and how strange that is, considering I’m not a tattooed girl. But I guess I have always felt like a tattooed girl who didn’t have tattoos yet…. I know many people will be surprised, and many may wish I hadn’t done it. I’m a nurse, and I just graduated first in my class in nursing school, and it doesn’t fit how others see me or think of me… but it *is* me. I designed it based on my lifelong fascination of Pennsylvania Dutch art, and it has beaning for me, and I can’t wait to get it… But it will be interesting to see how many people disapprove of me being me or looking more like me, but less like the me they think they have figured out, I guess….

  33. Carolyn responded on 09 Jun 2012 at 7:53 am #

    Also, please excuse my typos above.

  34. Vicky responded on 09 Jun 2012 at 9:58 am #

    Kate: you’re so cool.

  35. shana responded on 10 Jun 2012 at 10:18 am #

    beautiful! if i were staring it would be because i want to copy your look.

  36. Anna responded on 10 Jun 2012 at 6:15 pm #

    This inspired me to finally o something I’ve been thinking of doing for months: Blunt my bangs off. I’ve been afraid of doing this since I’ve never had bangs before.

    Also, if I send a picture of myself eating a muffin, would that be okay instead of cake?

  37. Annie B responded on 10 Jun 2012 at 7:10 pm #

    Beautiful! You look great with or without hair :) The shaved look suits you really well!

  38. Melissa responded on 11 Jun 2012 at 3:41 am #


    I’ve been following your blog for ages now, but this is the first time I’ve really been compelled to comment (I can be a little shy sometimes). I must say, I’m super jealous of how awesome you look with nearly no hair. I’ve been a short-hair person (above my shoulders) most of my life and have recently been trying to get used to having longer hair but sometimes dream of just shaving it off. So far I haven’t dared… It’s the ears, you see – my ears stick out and I have a hard enough time tying my hair back because it exposes them. But then I think maybe I should do it anyway and stop worrying about how I look.

    All this to say, you’re either super inspiring or a bad influence, depending on how you want to look at it. :)

  39. Emily Merkle responded on 11 Jun 2012 at 4:33 am #


  40. j responded on 11 Jun 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    You look amazing. In fact, you are making me need a trim. Hooray!

  41. Lisa F responded on 12 Jun 2012 at 8:40 am #

    Kate – remember all of those posts you’ve written about feeling stunning and lovely and beautiful and unique? Well, you were right about all of those qualities. You look beautiful with your new buzz cut – honestly! The spareness of the hair cut really emphasizes the aliveness of your face. Gorgeous!

  42. Maya responded on 13 Jun 2012 at 2:45 pm #

    I think you look lovely- classy and happy and self-aware. I bet your brother-in-law will get it.

    As for keeping up with a short haircut of the buzzer-friendly variety: consider getting one. If you trim even fairly regularly, it’ll become financially worthwhile, as long as you’re either ok doing it yourself or Bear will do it. I do my husband’s hair, and it works out just wonderfully (we usually keep it a smidge longer than yours is now, because he’s given in to my taste in hair lengths a smidge). Otherwise, if you happen to have more time than money, talk to me and we’ll make a haircut date.

  43. Amanda responded on 14 Jun 2012 at 11:24 pm #

    I love your short hair posts. I’m not as brave as you, but after only ever having hair as short as just above my shoulders… Emma Watson short was a big deal :) … I chopped mine off back in March and was SUPER self conscious about the length. The (strong, independent) women I work with told me it was awesome and a woman has to be in a good, confident place with herself to not feel like she needs to hide behind her hair. Between that tidbit and your earlier post about buzzing your hair, and how awesome and brave it makes you feel… I felt confident enough to rock (and continue to chop off) my short cut.

    I think short hair (especially as short as yours!) is incredibly feminine and sexy. Rock it :)

  44. Eat the Damn Cake » don’t you dare use that tone, young lady! responded on 19 Jun 2012 at 12:59 pm #

    [...] and they’re not even NICE. What a loser. How is her brother so much better than her? Also, what is with her hair? Is that, like, some kind of statement she’s trying to make or something? SO MANY [...]

  45. Tiogshi responded on 07 Sep 2012 at 11:13 am #

    (the following is not directed to anyone in particular, but to the nervous-about-body-image readership in general)

    Meet my mother, the happiest person I know; a short-haired, blonde-and-sometimes-red mohawk’d (though today she’s going gel-less), upbeat metalhead and punk rocker.

    She wears anything that’s sun-yellow, whether it’s silk, cotton, leather, fur, or chain mail. She doesn’t drink beer because she’s celiac; she drinks añejo tequila and mead instead. She works as a dental receptionist, and has a 2nd-dan black belt in a Karate style practiced all over Canada and China. She enjoys mosh pits as much as the insect zoo.

    Image, body or otherwise, is just a facade people will use to assume that you’re single-faceted. Why worry about it? Others will slot you into whatever category they want, no matter how you look and dress, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Just relax, and be comfortable with what you like, because when the day’s over, you’re the only person who matters to you.

  46. Carrie responded on 30 Apr 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    This look is so cute on you! I love it. I am sorry you had regrets after but it is beautiful. You can rock this style and it would look awesome. I have looked at a lot of buzz cuts lately. Thinking about trying it myself but I will probably chicken out and go with a short pixie. It is awesome you had the guts to do what you wanted though. Definitely something to feel good about. Don’t let what others think ruin it for you, and don’t just assume they are thinking bad things about it or you. Maybe they were thinking “hey, I wish I had the guts to try that” or “that style looks really hot on her”.