My Tweenhood was a Haze of Baldness and Shame



When I was 13, I shaved my head.  Bald.

It was a quadruple-dog dare.  I didn't want to look like a coward.

It all seemed like a fantastic idea while it was happening.  I was the center of attention - especially in the eyes of the boy who had dared me to do it.

I really liked this boy.  I had liked him since the 5th grade.  He had always been cooler than me, which really wasn't very hard to accomplish.  I mean, I wore wolf T-shirts, had giant braces and thought that it was socially acceptable to own elastic-waisted jeans.  I don't know how I came to the conclusion that shaving my head would make things any better.  I really didn't think it through properly.  Like I said, I really liked this boy.  I thought maybe I'd look like Demi Moore in G.I. Jane.

I called my mom at work:

Me: "Hey mom, is it okay if I use the dog shaver?"

Mom:  "For what?"

Me: "To shave my head."

Mom:  "Um... (prolonged silence in which I am sure she felt torn between her duty to protect my self esteem and her duty to allow me to express myself)... It's your hair sweetie.  Do what you want."

Me:  "Thanks."

My mother passively taught me a very important lesson about thinking things through.

My friend didn't just use the dog clippers.  He braided my hair, cut off the braid, used the dog-clippers on me and then went and found my mom's razor in the shower and shaved my head until it sparkled.  Everybody laughed.  Allie is so crazy!  I laughed too.  Look at how silly I am!  I am out of control!  I am so extreme right now...

...My time in the spotlight lasted about 4 minutes.

That evening, I eventually got around to looking in the mirror.  I had never been very self-conscious - I didn't have the fashion sense to know what to be self-conscious about.  But I knew ugly when I saw it.  I spent about an hour transfixed in front of my hairless reflection.

I was confused.

I wondered why I didn't look like Demi Moore in G.I. Jane.  

Was it my jawline?

I calculated how long it would take my hair to grow back.  I started to weep. (You can laugh.  It's okay.)

The ensuing months were filled with the kind of life experiences that force a person to develop their "inside beauty" lest they become devoid of any value whatsoever.

For example, I was waiting in line for the next stall in a public restroom and a little girl started screaming "this is the girl's bathroom!" I soon realized she was screaming at me.  I looked her dead in the face and said "I'm a girl."  Neither of us walked away without significant psychological damage and gender confusion issues.

Despite having my gender-identity ruffled, my interest in boys began to intensify.  Looking back, I am so sad for myself.  The futility of it all was mind boggling.  My best efforts at attractiveness only succeeded at making me look vaguely like something you'd see in Cirque de Soleil.   Apparently, this wasn't what the boys were looking for in a girl.

My friends were getting into makeup.  Not wanting to miss out on the fun and hoping to disguise myself under a thick layer of feminine awesomeness, I joined in.

We were terribly misdirected in our attempts at looking beautiful, so I ended up strutting around town with whore-red lipstick (it was like a neon frame for my giant, gnashing braces!), bright blue eye shadow and a nice, shiny, bald head.  I think I may have been wearing my wolf shirt.

Sadly, my best attempts at looking feminine and smokin' were not convincing enough.

I had been selected to play the lead in the school musical that year.  However, the lead role was a woman and my appearance-altering decision made it difficult for me to effectively portray that.   My teacher gently requested that I give my part to a more "convincing" classmate.  Instead, I was to play a male role.  To make it worse, I had to sing.  Like a man.  All I remember is being up on a stage, fake beard clinging fake-beardedly to my face, belting out some annoying song in my best baritone and wondering how my life had gone so wrong so early.

My hair eventually began to grow back, as hair is wont to do.  First I looked like a skinhead or cancer patient, then like a Chia pet, then like a marine, then like Gary Busey and finally, kind of girl-like.  I got rid of my wolf shirt.  I started plucking my unibrow.

Gradually, I began to fit into society again.  I almost learned how to put on makeup.  I bought a dress.  I even got my first boyfriend.  I think he turned out to be gay, but whatever.  If I was going to look like a dude, at least he reassured me that I looked like an attractive dude.

The important point is, I made it.  I survived the catastrophic ugliness that once shrouded my future in uncertainty.  And I learned an important lesson about being mindful of the consequences of my actions.  
Kind of.

Okay, so here it is in all of its blurry, hairless, dog-presenting glory:


P.S.  I think my dog (who was usually a morbidly obese chunk of pure disobedience) won that ribbon only because the judges thought I was a cancer patient.  After the competition, my mom overheard them talking about the "poor girl with no hair... what do you think she has?  Do you think it's terminal?"

My mom interrupted them and said "you must be talking about my daughter.  She did it on purpose.  There's nothing wrong with her physically."

I like how she included the word "physically" to insinuate that yes, there may be something wrong with me mentally but I definitely didn't have cancer  :)

39 comments:

The_Mandinator said...

You shaved your head? Wow. That takes some balls.

canadiandoubles said...

I'm not sure what the appropriate response is to this situation. I'm gonna cop out by slow clapping.

darsden said...

OMG YOU make me laugh so hard... all the time.. you are hilarious...now mind you I am laughing with you NOT at you :-))

Ben said...

Oh my....this sort of hurt to read yet, I feel oddly connected to you.

Although I should point out that back then? It didn't take a bald head to make me that socially awkward.

Win or lose? Hard to say.

Lunatron (aka Jamie) said...

I'm right there with you, but opposite in action. I let my hair grow out and I got a perm. All over. I looked like a French Poodle trying to look like a cool dude. I took some heat for that one...

nursemyra said...

I bet you'd make a real cute Chia pet

Nik said...

WOW. I mean WOW. I totally understand about doing something because you liked a boy. I joined the track team and stayed in it from 7th grade until I was a Senior. I never shaved by head . . . but I feel ya girl. I feel ya.

:-) Nik

Holly said...

You really make me smile with your posts. It's great seeing a new post from you because it's garenteed to brighten my day.
Thanks Allie ;)

Holly ♥

Stephanie said...

If it were me? I would have let people think I had cancer and then milked the "sympathy boyfriend" situation for all it was worth. Apparently my adolescent self was not too proud for pity dating.

Loys said...

Wow, shaving my head is definitely something I would never do to impress a guy. But what is wrong with elastic-waisted jeans?? I still wear those.

Kidding.

Nooter said...

smooth move sinead, did adults rub your cute bald head for good luck? hee hee

That Chick said...

I was dared to shave my head when I was 12. I was cowardly. To this day I wonder what would have happened if I had done it. Now I can look through your eyes and take a shot at what a possible following sequence could have been.

Thanks for that. Love your blog. I laughed. :)

Kb_Mal said...

1. PLEASE tell me there's photo evidence of this "look"

2. My first middle school boyfriend also turned out to be gay

3. You rule, Allie

Kb_Mal said...

1. PLEASE tell me there's photo evidence of this "look"

2. My first middle school boyfriend also turned out to be gay

3. You rule, Allie

Allie said...

@Kb_Mal: I will ask my mom to scan a picture. You may regret asking me to do this...
On a related note, nursemayra, we shall see if your theory about me being a cute Chia pet holds any water...

@That Chick: as you can see, you didn't miss out on much. Other than lifelong self-esteem issues, that is. Kidding! I'm totally normal...

@Nooter: I actually did get a lot of head rubbing. Some welcome, some not so welcome...

@ Me: why do I use the ellipsis so much...?

@Stephanie: I may have milked the cancer sympathy just a little - my dog won runner-up grand champion in an obedience competition despite not being overly obedient. I later came to find out that the judges had not based their decision on merit.

lotgk said...

'cause nothing compares,
nothing compares.....
to you...

Your new Delta Tau Chi name is Sinead O'Connor....

Daddy Papersurfer said...

@The_Mandinator Shaving your balls takes more balls ..... whoops, sorry Allie, my first visit and I've spoken to someone else first ..... blame it on my age.

Anyway kids always do stooopid things .... [kids age range 0 to ∞] ..... we're all doomed I tell you - DOOMED.

Allie said...

@LOTGK: Can we change my nickname to "The Baconator" please?

@ Daddy Papersurfer: nice balls joke :) However, we cannot be sure which act truly does take more balls, since it is difficult to compare literal and figurative balls quantitatively.

Jen said...

OMG, I'm rolling over here! This post is worthy of putting your blog up on my iGoogle! Thank you! I'll be back soon!

Kit Walker said...

Elastic jeans are socially unacceptable? Well then call the fashion cops; I don’t care. Given that expansion thing women do during the full moon, I’ll never give up mine!

In junior high, tired of getting teased about my slow development in the frontal area, I went through a phase where I took the tomboy thing a little over the top, keeping my hair cropped short and dressing like a guy, simply to enjoy messing with people’s perceptions of gender. Thanks for making me think, maybe that’s why my first boyfriend turned out to be gay.

You are hilarious!

lotgk said...

"@LOTGK: Can we change my nickname to "The Baconator" please? "

Point of parliamentary procedure!
Of course it can be changed. Your new new Delta Tau Chi name is,...
The Baconator.

Hope said...

In retrospect, though, all your classmates probably remember you as the best kid ever. This post is hilarious and you totally rule.

Organic Meatbag said...

Oh shit, we need a picture of this bald head of yours! Hahaha!

Boomka said...

So I couldn't even shave my head until I was like 22 because I couldn't man up enough to do it. And even then I couldn't do the whole Lex Luthor. Once again, proof to me how little of a man I actually am. Awesome.

alexa - cleveland's a plum said...

i think i love you.

Kb_Mal said...

I thought this post was great even before the visual aide. Now extra points for awesomeness.

Sissy said...

cheese and rice, woman, you fucking KILL me!
I've gotta go call my mom cuz we were just talking about how you make us snort and she is gonna go nuts over this one.

jazzlamb said...

Aww. Thats a pretty heart rending story. I almost had a tear in my eye laughing. Oh god, your blog is the coolest thing that happened to my computer screen:D

Jovial Connoisseur said...

i fell like i just finished reading something written by mark twain or such writer!!! man this is awesomeness.you have superb talent to write.. the way you can look back an poke fun at things happen, satire, and artistic nature of the whole thing... this is great
but doesnt have your trademark your own temperament which i can find in recent posts.
:)

Jovial Connoisseur said...

i too shaved my hair but that was not due to a relationship matter. beside i did it just after finishing high school, few years ago
:)

King of Fools said...

Am I the only one concerned for the fact the boy you shaved your head for could apparently braid hair like a woman-pro?

He was probably into other guys for sure. :)

But yeah, I always talk about shaving my head every summer. But I do not have the sack to actually do it and thus I commend you for your courage. :D

Heidi said...

i feel creepy leaving comments on old posts anyway.

don't feel bad. i used to look like sam from different strokes. see link...

http://heidi21678.blogspot.com/2009/06/what-were-we-thinking.html

Kendall said...

Holy CRAP! That post is so rediculously funny and sad at the same time. But your mom sounds awesome! I happened on your blog by mistake but I have taken to going back and reading from the beginning. It is thoroughly enjoyable and keep it up!

Lowri said...

You were decades ahead of Britney.

jn said...

It's OK. Everyone looked ridiculous in the 90s.

Sherilin Riley said...

i found your blog recently & you're my new best imaginary friend. i laugh till i pee when i read your stuff & my husband just says, "are you reading that blog again?" but he's read a couple things & now understands.
i shaved my head when i was 21. i saw demi on oprah & thought i could pull off her bald awesomeness. and as if that wasn't bad enough, my husband shaved it off for me again a few years later. i worked the cancer angle for free drinks. maybe a little.

Kara said...

I'm crying and choking on laughter at my desk. My co-workers think I'm dying...Thanks!

Zoe said...

So they could give you a fake beard but they couldn't just give you a damn wig!? Sheesh.

I am currently reading your blog from finish to start. I'm allowed toilet breaks.

Chelsea said...

"I like how she included the word "physically" to insinuate that yes, there may be something wrong with me mentally but I definitely didn't have cancer"


I love you. And your mom.