“Don’t shave your head. Don’t do that to the world,” said Victor, before he took my face in his hands and kissed me.
I shoved him off, and, thankfully, didn’t listen to him.
I’ve always had a lot of hair. It’s always been curly as fuck. It hasn’t always been red though, it’s been black and blonde and mousy brown and green and various awful shades of ginger when the dye washed out.
I don’t know when I first started considering a head shave. Maybe it was about two years ago when my then-boyfriend had just done his own head, and told me that he didn’t think I could pull it off (he said a lot of things much worse than that, some of them I even listened to as well). But I knew it was something I wanted to do, something I needed to do “before I die”, just to experience what it was like to have no hair.
I decided to do it while I was away, just in case I hated how it looked, and then it would grow back a bit before I got back to England. I was expecting to love the breeze on the back of my head, the ease of washing, especially in my little home in the jungle without running water, not having to worry about monkeys grabbing and pulling it.
I wasn’t expecting it to suit me so much.
I don’t feel full of myself for saying that; I’ve utilised my hair to look good for so many years, hid behind it, used it as an excuse not to project my personality to the fullest because, let’s be real, having a head of full, voluminous, curly red hair does that for you to some extent.
I wanted to feel full enough and beautiful without it, too. Thankfully, I do.
The head shave took place on my first night in Padre Cocha, a tiny jungle pueblo. It took place in a room by myself, sitting naked on the floor, hair falling into an old drawer and the overflowing bin. As soon as it was done, I took a swim in the moonlight and felt new and clean and happy. It seemed like a big deal until I actually did it.
I love it. And it has really helped with the monkeys.
Find a poem below which I’ve been working on since I shaved my head! It’s more widely inspired by the healing process I have been through over the course of my two weeks in the jungle but the head shave started all that (it’s also not a spoken word poem, it’s not about the patriarchy and it doesn’t rhyme????)
"In the end, it was easy"
- thoughts, floating in a shallow pool.
Moonlit, alone and bitten by mosquitoes,
These the conditions which herald my rebirth.
Companionship found in the earth
And plants I don't know the names of.
Clippers my tool
Rainforest my witness
A low, quiet buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz my accompaniment
As I perform my own caesarean
And smile at reincarnation
In cracked mirror
Siete anos malo suerte
Pero yo tengo ya
Seven lines, done my time,
Carved on wall already
So let's have seven more.
Snake of healing, Kundalini, awakens
Uncoils to stretch, spine length and
Aligned, for the first time.
As spun gold falls on pile, in drawer
Defying predictions of monsters
Is my reflection and tie dye centres of energy
Is me, anew, against all odds,
I am Samson's foil.