Monday, April 8, 2013

Being Bald

On the bright side:

Great savings on hair care products.

No time wasted in beauty salons.

No bad hair days.

You can shock the shit out of people by simply taking off your hat—

Oh, wait. I’m too embarrassed to do that. The best I’ve done, in terms of public rebellion, is to wear a black head cover that has little white skulls all over it.

I really do hate being bald. Not in the house, alone—I’m quite used to it. In a weird way, I even think it’s kind of cool. But the way I look to others if they catch a glimpse of my bald head—

For example, not long ago, I was sitting at the dining room table, eating eating my breakfast, and I looked up and saw two 20’s-ish guys walking their dog. One looked up and I saw him see me and think: there is a bald woman eating breakfast in there.

I was embarrassed. I felt like I should run out and apologize for making him feel uncomfortable.

Which I realize is totally absurd.

Even more absurd. Some years back, when I was buzzing my own hair, I once forgot to put the attachment on. Standing in front of the mirror, I took the first swipe up the middle of my head with the shaver and—

Crap. I had a freaking reverse Mohawk. I stood there, horrified. Then (what else was there to do?) finished the job. I wasn’t completely bald, but close enough that I felt like I needed to wear a hat everywhere.

(“Hat! Hat!” my then two-year-old granddaughter, Heidi, said, alarmed, whenever I took it off.)

And even with the hat on, one day I was picking out fruit in the produce section at the grocery store and the woman standing next to me glanced over at me and asked, quietly, “Are you undergoing treatment?”

I should have said, yes; accepted her sympathy and, perhaps, commiseration, which she clearly wanted to give—then fled. But, no. I tried to explain what had happened. The more I talked, the stupider I felt.

She was the one who fled, no doubt thinking that it was bad enough to have cancer, but really pathetic to pretend you don’t.

I’d love to be the kind of person who said, “Fine. I’m bald. I’m just going to be bald. If people have a problem with that, so be it.”

I don’t actually know if I believed I would be that sort of person if the occasion arrived, but I’m guessing I did. Or at least hoped I would be. I know I’ve always admired women who have the courage to do it. But it turns out that I am not that kind of person.

I feel a little diminished by this piece of information about myself.

Meanwhile, my hair is growing. If I look in the mirror and squint, I can see a faint halo of hair on the sides and in the back. Not much on top, though—which is making me a little anxious. God. What if I end up with a permanent Bozo effect?

But that’s a whole other story.


Steven Pettinga said...

If life gives you lemons, make lemonade. It sounds like your sense of humor is still intact. At least you are smiling.

Barb, you will always be beautiful no matter the condition of your crown. Although, I do prefer your usual cut.

Shawndra said...

Maybe you could play that "Halo" pop song over and over to encourage the hair to grow, hah! Thank you for being so forthright and self-aware (as always) in sharing your experience with us. I just read the April 1 post as well. The thing about the "battle" and the need for a positive attitude and all that. That strikes me as way too much pressure on the person with cancer. I appreciate how you make space for the entire experience. Seems like writing is good training for that, huh. Take care, Barb!

Christina Williams Saulter said...


I shaved my head many times right after high-school and in my early twenties. You know what? I was trying to pull-off the Barb Shoup look (which I could never do with any success). There just aren't that many people with heads as amazing as yours.

Once, in my early twenties, I did this exact same thing (with the buzzing and the forgetting to put the guard on). Reverse mohawk. Crap. The whole thing.

I was working at Staples (office supply store), cash register. I was so mortified. I wore a bandanna to work and begged my maniacal manager to let me where the thing during my shift. She refused.

It was a humbling month.

Needless to say, I'm praying for your follicles to grow, grow, grow.


Scott Atkinson said...

"I know I’ve always admired women who have the courage to do it. But it turns out that I am not that kind of person."

Sweetheart, you just wrote a blog post about it with a picture on the internet for the entire world.

You are that kind of person.

You are also beautiful.

Love from Michigan,


Unknown said...

You look great in that picture, Barb. I don't know what you looked like before. Great smile! Don't worry. Peace


HiddenMinnie said...

Forget the hair on your head - the part about having no body hair was pretty awesome. I was surprised, though, how cold your head gets when you sleep as a baldie - I tried to bring back the nightcap as a fashion statement but it somehow never caught on.

Keep rocking the bald head, and don't worry about what anyone thinks.