Shaved head - courage to be ugly?
Before I begin, I am not pulling a Britney Spears; in other words, I am not going through a rough time, I am not hating myself, I am not going through a divorce or the kind.
I am also not doing this because I want any other kind of unwanted attention.
The main reason I am shaving my head is, because I want this spiritual experience to teach me something. I don’t know yet what it is or what it will be, maybe I won’t learn anything, but at least I don’t want to regret not having it done at least once in my life.
Many years ago, I went to India to become a Buddhist nun. Well, we all know by now it didn’t happen. Too soon I realized I am not able to follow the outdated rules of monastic life, where women have more vows simply for being women (sounds like Trump and his cabinet are not the only ones to consider being a woman is a pre-existing condition). Nuns are not allowed in certain teachings and empowerments, they are ranked second and third places while many still believe that as a woman you cannot - or with more hardships - reach enlightenment.
I think that’s BS and I didn’t want to commit my life to that, so I turned away and continued to search for something else. But I missed on one experience: Getting my head shaved.
Of course as a lay Buddhist practitioner I am not required to do so, but I wanted to see how it feels to be less attractive (according to society’s beauty standards), how it helps being less vain, how it helps letting go of this ego clinging in times of social-media-self-optimization and obsession with the self.
And so I did it - I shaved my head knowing that at age 36 I am not the prettiest to pull it off, knowing that my husband’s uptight family will openly disapprove and possibly shower me (and him) with all kind of dismissive comments and knowing that microaggressions are coming my way.
My husband helped to shave my head and supports me in this experiment that also has a lot to do with defying people’s idea of how women have to look and have to be.
Before I shaved my head I was nervous, maybe even afraid. As a child I was not really cute, as a teenager I was considered ugly. So I made my “ugliness” my strength and went over to provoke: Short hair, military boots, ska, punk, rude girl.
Eventually I physically became more tolerable, and the ugly duckling became better looking. But unfortunately my family never fully inspired me to see my beauty, to accept me the way I am. Instead I was criticised by my mother that I looked like a slut. Irony is, I was always very prudent and far away from being one.
My father told me I looked too pale, Mexican men said I wasn’t feminine enough. And yet, I got groped, sexually assaulted, and - yes, why not openly speaking about it - raped. So much of being feminine and a woman - I guess it doesn’t matter how you look like, as a woman you always have to deal with sexism.
It took me going to India, to break into pieces and patch myself up again. It took me getting married, suffering depression, self hatred and eventually seeking therapy. Above all that, it took one person to tell me every single day without failure, that I am beautiful and it was until then, I started to see beauty in myself: My husband.
And that’s where I am now: Centered, strong, and with enough self esteem to endure whatever comes.