- Edition 2, Chapter 9 -
Grace Yang, 26, is a visual and audio artist who freelances in digital strategy, and a copywriter with a fresh voice. Her one condition before agreeing to a session at Hairstory Studio: “Freedom from stereotypical norms of beauty (and please don’t put a weave on me).” Here she writes about attitude, androgyny, vulnerability and empowerment – and everything that comes with the radical act of shaving her head.
"Yeah, I totally get it," he nodded. "Ya can't control a lot in life, but you can choose how long your hair is." Tinder date sat across from me, looking smugly wise. I unreasonably felt he probably had dirty feet. And If I wanted to sleep with him, we'd have to go to my place, I think. Having sex in a Quaker commune could be fun, though… .
I shaved my head the week before this date.
I felt obliged to explain the different lengths of hair in my Tinder profile picture collection, because I remember when I felt that girls with shaved heads were way too 'radical'; the circumstances of Britney's fresh, honest scalp didn't help the image. And sure, Natalie Portman rocked it, but her character was practically raped – forcing someone to shave their head is a strange, super violent thing. You're depriving someone of a symbolic and visceral self-protection. Yet conversely, shaving one’s own head... felt extremely empowering.
Every time after the first time is just as cathartic and liberating. I got used to the look. The practicality and ease of the style overwhelmed any hesitations I had about the image, because it's attitude, it's all about the attitude – chin up, calm gaze, shoulders back – and crowds on 5th Avenue part sweetly, miraculously, whether or not you're sporting long locks or a brain handle. You have to wear the hair; don't let the hair wear YOU!
A relatively flat-chested girl, the look also works for me. I love the vulnerability of it all, the androgyny; it becomes a shocking power in itself; the vulnerability projects onto people as they seek the assumed strange in you through furtive or not-so-furtive glances at pale skin shining through freshly mowed buzz. Just smile at them – they'll smile back, maybe nervously, but body language is much more persuasive than words.
With this in mind, I'm not a girl who pampers herself. My beauty regimen consists of showers after long walks through rivers of New York traffic. I'm usually one to scoff at beauty products and their marketing mischief (since when did the charm of freckles become the threat of 'sunspots'?), and my hair grows too fast for me to glorify a beauty salon. Yet what I like about Hairstory is how they work to bring out your most beautiful, natural features; they celebrate you. Whereas I usually come out of salons feeling curiously pointy or sharp and painfully contrived, I skipped out of the elevator stepping on clouds, feeling like a real me, and not some target demographic.
Rewinding to before the Tinder date, my mullet wasn't getting me a job. I responded to Hairstory's casting call, and was selected. Wes hand-sheared my hair, sculpting it to fit the shape of my face. Roxie gave me a wicked mauve-ish mushroom platinum glow – an impossible color I would have never known existed. My head looked a neutral pink when you stared at it from the side; when you looked straight at it, it glowed platinum blonde. It was so weird and cool. I don't think I'll ever get as cool a haircut – should I stop trying? I got strange looks, I received many compliments – and for the first time in three to four dye jobs, I felt invincible about it. As a natural jet-black-haired Asian, this is no easy feat.
That's my hairstory so far… I'm sure there's more to come. I can't wait until I'm old, and I get to cornrow my mane of snow-white hair, or dread it something awful. Maybe Roxie will dye it something even more insane, like a color they eventually name "Unicorn."