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“There was a point where I experienced crippling anxiety, and shaving my hair was how I reset myself.”
Sitting in a stylist’s chair and watching as they shave off your long hair is one of the most unexplainable emotions. One can experience joy, or fear, or just pure adrenaline—everyone is different. And now, with quarantine in the mix, it seems that more and more women are eager for the change.
Quarantine buzz cuts became a surprise trend last year, going viral on TikTok following a late-2019 video reminding everyone, “You only live once, it’s gonna grow back.” (There’s no shortage of #QuarantineHaircut material on Instagram and YouTube, either.) Below, four people share their experiences with shedding their hair in 2020—including one woman who let her 10-year-old do the buzzing—and they answer all the questions you probably have if you’ve never tried it.
I initially buzzed my hair six years ago after leaving a domestic violence relationship. There was something about knowing he touched the hair on my head that disgusted me. Buzzing meant being free from him. From that point, anytime I felt like I needed to free myself from a feeling or a situation, I’d buzz it again. 2020 was one of those times for me. There was a point where I experienced crippling anxiety, and shaving my hair was how I reset myself.
I feel my most beautiful bald. It’s almost become a life hack for me. Anytime I need to pivot, focus, or shed, I know exactly what I need to do.
This year, I let my 10-year-old cut it for me in our bathroom! The initial cut happened in 2013/14. I felt emotional, relieved, renewed. I think every woman who has a feeling deep down that she wants to go for it and shave it should absolutely go on that journey. There’s another level of self-love, self-acceptance, and self-awareness waiting on the other end of that fear. Shaving your hair really sets a tone. It’s one less thing to do, less distraction. It inspires me to work harder. It makes me feel bold, it boosts my confidence. I also find that I get the most compliments with my buzz cut.
Before my cut, my hair was a chore. I found myself hiding behind it. I found myself not working out because “just got my hair done,” or maybe not feeling my best when “my hair wasn’t done.” As a kid, I faced a lot of trauma surrounding my hair being biracial. I was made to feel like it was difficult or inconvenient.
Shaving it freed me of that. After the cut, I find myself having absolutely no patience for it after it gets to a certain length. I feel my most beautiful bald. It’s almost become a life hack for me. Anytime I need to pivot, focus, or shed, I know exactly what I need to do.
I had wanted to buzz my hair for a while before lockdown, as I had a buzz cut in my early 20s, but obviously now being in my 50s, I was forever putting it off because I thought maybe I was past the age of a buzz cut. When we went into our first lockdown in March—and obviously my hairdresser’s was shut down for a few months—my hair just went wild. That’s when I decided, what the hell, I am going for it, and I have never looked back. My partner, Allan, was in charge of the hair clippers, and I told him to go for it, and he did. The initial cut took place in May.
I have learned that worrying about ‘Am I too old? Will I look ridiculous? What will people think/say?’ is nonsense.
Everyone should try it just once, but it’s a personal decision and needs to be thought through, because once your hair is off, it’s going to be quite some time before it’s back to the way it was before. I felt really excited by the prospect of having a buzz cut. I was ready for a complete change of image, and once I had made the decision to have a buzz cut, I wanted it done as soon as possible. It feels liberating, fabulous, and empowering.
Just making the decision that I was definitely going for it after thinking about it for so long felt amazing and exciting. I have learned that worrying about ‘Am I too old? Will I look ridiculous? What will people think/say?’ is nonsense. If you have made up your mind to try something new and you feel confident with your decision, then go for it. You will feel so proud of yourself for doing it.
Earlier this year in lockdown felt like the right time for me, because with all the sadness brought by COVID, it made me realize you have to live life to the fullest, take chances, embrace change, do things for yourself, ignore negativity, stand tall, and live your life in the way you want. Because, if you do that, it’s amazing how many other people you will influence and help them do the same.
JoHannah Yankey, 21, Student at the University of Tampa
Once quarantine happened, I flew back home to Maryland to be with my family, and I was just doing a lot of self-reflection, searching within. I was going through a time where I was trying to work on forgiving myself and letting go of the past. I feel like hair carries a lot of weight. And I woke up one morning feeling a strong urge to cut my hair, and I was like, “Why not do it? I’m in quarantine, I’ll have the time to gain the confidence with short hair and everything.”
When we’re born, we’re born with short hair—we’re newborns. I think of myself as like, ‘Oh, I’m a newborn!’
I had my brother cut my hair, actually. And it wasn’t, like, an emotional breakdown or anything—I know people typically assume you must be going through a lot to cut your hair. And I was like, “No, I’m not!” I was mentally stable. I was aware of what I was doing. I did not regret it afterwards. It was actually very relieving afterwards. I was like, “Wow, I actually did it.” It felt like a weight lifted off of me.
If you don’t want to have an attachment to your hair all your life, I would [recommend a buzz]. I feel like everyone should try cutting their hair. It does bring a different type of confidence that was never there before.
I feel like the hardest part was getting that confidence to walk outside with short hair. Before I had cut my hair, I was questioning if men were going to still try and talk to me, are guys still going to approach me? Hair, it means beauty. People think long hair is beautiful. And so it helped me with my confidence and my security within myself.
I would say me cutting my hair represented a fresh start. When we’re born, we’re born with short hair—we’re newborns. I think of myself as like, “Oh, I’m a newborn!” I’m starting all over again, I’m growing my hair out again, and I feel like it’s a learning experience getting to know yourself again and the new person you’re becoming every single day.
Nastia Cloutier-Ignatiev, 23, Art Director & Photographer from Montreal, Canada
If I didn’t do it now, then when? I was also starting to process many traumas and needed to let go of my attachment to my conditioned version of beauty. I wanted to let go of the conditioned version of myself and actually start to be me for me, not for others. I had the help of my mom and my nervous lover. It took place in August. Honestly, while shaving, I felt indifferent. Then, I was obsessed with touching my head. It felt so lovely and comforting.
I learned people really judge you on your appearance, even if they pretend they don’t.
I find [cutting your hair is] a great way of letting go and moving on when you are ready and need to. Yes, changing your hair color or radically changing your cut can make you feel brand new, but I believe nothing beats the feeling of shaving your head. Imagine not having to worry about your hair in the morning, having the male gaze on you reduce significantly, not spending outrageous amounts of money on products and hair appointments, or not having your hair to hide and getting used to showing yourself as you are. No doubt people say it’s liberating.
I learned people really judge you on your appearance, even if they pretend they don’t. As a woman, I realized that people with less feminine appearances are taken more seriously, seen as smarter, and talked to more. I went from being treated as dumb, innocent, or as a desirable object to just an actual person.
Interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.