This month marks the two-year anniversary of when I buzzed my hair. In reminiscing on my hair journey, I recently realized that the choice to cut off all my hair was a defining moment in developing my sense of self—and entering adulthood.
My point is, if you’re considering shaving your head, I think you should definitely do it.
I say this as someone who’s gone through pretty much every hair length imaginable. Growing up, I had hair that reached the middle of my back; I loved combining bright pants with large pockets, complex patterns, and mismatched socks, and did so without a care for what I looked like in family photos. My mom and stepmom would put my hair in cool braids and pigtails, always trying to match my eclectic style.
As I began to come to terms with my sexuality in the early years of high school, I impulsively decided to chop my hair to my shoulders. I loved it. I was very early in my young-bisexual transition. My understanding of queer fashion pretty much meant that I just wore button-downs and slacks. I tested out dressing “masculine.” My short hair fully worked with the new look.
Then, at sixteen, I got a pixie cut. From there I tended to keep it at a medium-long Kristen Stewart length with a middle part (scandalous, I’m sorry). And I loved it until I didn’t. At a certain point, I grew annoyed with having to constantly adjust my hair to get exactly the right angle of side bangs and the short-hair effortlessness I so desperately wanted.
Really, I’ve tried every option and seen every possibility—and I can say with confidence that shaving my head was the best decision ever.
I shaved my head at eighteen, right before the start of the pandemic and in the middle of my senior year of high school. My best friend, who always eerily prophesizes my haircuts, actually persuaded me into the haircut by showing me dozens of hot androgynous people with shaved heads on Pinterest. I had a similar facial structure to most of these people: subtle cheekbones, a nose that stands out, facial muscles accustomed to RBF. After about three months of this persuasion, I found myself in the middle of a romantic crisis with a partner that I both found boring and feared losing. This combination of stagnancy and nervousness led me to make a hair appointment. I needed a change. According to TikTok, getting an intense new haircut was an excellent solution to any problem. I made such a big deal about the impending cut: I told all my friends about it and posted an Instagram Story countdown, all in preparation for the big day.
With a haircut as dramatic as a full shave, I will say that the outcome is shocking at first. I wasn’t into my buzz cut for the first two days after I got it. It was jarring to see my scalp and the shape of my skull for the first time. I immediately missed the weight of my hair. I started to wonder if maybe I’d made a mistake, and whether I was going to be able to pull this off.
This unsureness was followed by a couple of weeks of pure euphoria. Once I got used to how my hair looked in the mirror, I started taking pictures and sending them to my friends. People were looking at me, and they were interested in my decision to do something so out of left field. It felt good to be seen as courageous and willing to try new things. As the initial excitement faded, I carried that positive energy and its accompanying message with me: making shocking changes can be a really good thing.
There were parts of truly getting comfortable with my buzzcut that took longer, though. Creating a cohesive look for myself that matched my new hair took some time. Of course, you don’t have to change your style when you get a new do. But I didn’t feel like my hoodie-and-denim-centric wardrobe suited the clean edges of my hair, so I did.
I’m nonbinary, and my look is super important to my gender presentation. Because of this, my post-buzz-cut aesthetic became more masculine, as it made me feel more affirmed. I moved toward earth-toned, high-waisted pants and big belts with tight-fitting shirts over my binder. It took me maybe a year to rotate through the pieces I didn’t like in order to find what worked for my self-esteem.
Interestingly, I also found that I felt more comfortable dressing feminine after my buzz cut because I knew my shaved head provided me with an edge. I felt like a cool biker or an indie rockstar when I was wearing a flowy pink jumpsuit with black heeled boots. The ability to play with femininity was an unexpected side effect, but one I definitely appreciated.
I also didn’t predict how much the buzz cut would make me want body modifications. After shaving my head I got my second and third lobe piercings, cartilage piercing, and all four of my tattoos. It’s cool not to have your hair blocking your piercings all the time. Even better, it feels good to know that your piercings, fashion, and haircut are all contributing to a cohesive look, not a disjointed one.
Having a buzz isn’t all perfect, though. The most annoying part of the buzz-cut lifestyle is probably how often I have to touch it up. After getting my first shave done at a salon, I realized how pointless it is to have someone do a haircut that you can so easily do yourself.
In the last two years, I’ve probably given myself about 70 haircuts. I’m attuned to the timeline at this point. Once I buzz, it takes about two days for it to even out, dulling the edges of the cut and creating a cohesive shape. Around the two-week mark, it’s time to buzz again. I’ll look into the mirror and see uneven growth and hedgehog-like prickles all over my scalp. The ease of the day-to-day hairstyling (no hairbrush, maybe some gel) does mean more haircuts are needed.
Cutting my hair saves money, but more importantly it makes me feel more confident and independent. Standing in the shower and watching chunks of hair fall around me feels empowering; it’s a way of taking control of my appearance. It’s also a form of self-care. I could have someone else cut my hair—but I’m actively choosing not to, because I trust that I’ll do a good job and buzz it exactly how I want.
Really, my growing comfort with my hair has become synonymous with a growing comfort with myself. Every time I see someone with a shaved head on the street, I feel a deep sense of kinship. Choosing to get a buzz cut and then grapple with all of the questions it raises is a profound journey and one that fundamentally changes a person. It’s strange to look in the mirror one day and look entirely different, to see parts of your body clearly that you’ve never really focused on before.
I think everyone should make a dramatic change like this at least once in their life. It’s just hair. If you don’t like it, it’ll grow back. And whether it works for you in the long term or not, it’s incredibly refreshing either way. Just the act of buzzing will make you attentive to your look, your presentation, and the way you take up space.
Shaving my head reset my life and made me feel equipped to start adulthood. If I could make this leap of faith and trust in its eventual positive effects, I could do anything. Two years in, I’m still planning on many, many, many more buzzcuts and all that comes alongside.