Posted by: julia
on Feb 10, 2016
(Sorry, couldn’t resist that post title.)
So a few days ago I went in to my trusted hairdresser Tracy (whom I’ve known for many years...she was the one who transformed me from long hair to shorter hair about 8 years ago) for my chemo haircut. In other words, the “cut it all off before I lose it” haircut. I had many people counsel that it would be easier if I had a little transition time with super short hair before getting to total baldness (and I think that was wise advice). I’d made the appointment a few weeks ago, and was dreading it as the time approached. Not because I thought I’d look bad with short hair, or that my hairdresser would do a bad job (she’s awesome). Rather, I was dreading it because I knew it was going to be another externally imposed transition, one that, just like with the boob reduction, touches on (and frankly, squeezes and stomps all over) core presentation of self and body image identity issues.
Now, I’ve done a lot of identity work in my life around my “outside standard beauty norms” body. (I’ve blogged about some of this before.) I had grown accustomed to and finally even proud of my zaftig curves, my curly hair, my Jewish nose. Sure, I knew I’d probably benefit from losing some weight, but I’d mostly made my peace with the pros and cons of extra flesh and knew how to work with it. I had also finally gotten to a point in my life where I was feeling pretty confident about my personal style (the clothes I wear, my hair and jewelry and accessory choices). So in general, I was pretty happy with the way I looked and the self I presented to the world. But cancer came along (AGAIN) and has been messing with that confidence, over and over. First it was the vast reduction in boobage (which even now nearly three months later, I am still displeased and distressed about, and we’re not even done messing with the boobage yet). Now it’s the hair. Dammit, I was happy with my hair. I had finally settled on a length and style I liked, I had dialed in my preferred styling products, and I was enjoying having all the sparkly colorful tinsel bits in it.