greenbottletree











This time last year, I would probably have been stroking my head and trying to catch a reflection of my newly bald head.

Over the past year, I’ve been asked various questions about experiences with no hair, finding a new style, etc.  So I thought I’d write a few questions and answers.

Are you growing your hair long again?

No.  I much prefer short hair, it turns out.

Would you ever shave it all off again?

Yes.  The thought doesn’t really bother me, in fact it’s much easier having hair that short … except for the Velcro effect and feeling a need to wear more make up to feel more feminine.

Will you keep it blonde?

I keep saying no but have now had it bleached three times.  I don’t think of myself as being blonde but I do like that it blends nicely with my grey when it grows out.

Are you ok about realising your hair is a lot more grey than you thought?

No.  If it were all grey, I’d feel a bit happier but there is something very annoying about patchy grey.

How long did it take before you felt you had a hair style?

I first had it cut after four months.  I hadn’t liked it for up to two months prior to that as it was fluffy and uninspiring.  I wish I had cut it sooner, maybe after three months.  My second cut, three months after the first, was my favourite and the one I would like to have again.

I will put up a photo but all the ones I had taken today looked awful.  Clearly having a bad hair day.

A few days ago, I was thinking about 2014.  I know my hair shave was in 2013 but at the beginning of  2014 I was in the US then Mexico and, totally unexpectedly, the whole experience of raising sponsorship and shaving all my hair off and being in lots of different places with my bald then stubbly head has been a major highlight of 2014.

Apologies that this is a very dreary post.  I am currently overwhelmed with a house move but I wanted to write here on the one year date.  I like to think I will update this in the next week or so with a more eloquent post and a photograph.

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Taken on 14th May, five months after baldnessI suspect my hair no longer warrants a blog update but I thought I’d write one about being blonde as it’s been quite an unexpected experience.

Now that I’ve just spent a small fortune on blonde hair products in an attempt to mute the yellowness in order to avoid matching the yellow arms of my preferred glasses, I might get my roots “done” over the next few weeks and stay blonde a bit longer but it’s not a look that I plan to keep or ever go back to.  I just don’t feel at all blonde; I’m definitely more brown or grey/brown!

When I had virtually no hair, I was convinced people would stare at me.  However, I didn’t really notice it beyond the odd surreptitious peak.  But now my hair is short and blonde, I have never, ever felt so stared at.  Very unsettling.  Everyone I’ve caught staring at me has appeared expressionless and I can’t work out what they were thinking.  One normal-looking man on a station platform was staring at me and I could feel his gaze so I turned to look at him.  My first thought was that I didn’t know who he was so I turned to face where I’d been looking.  But he was still staring, so I looked back and confirmed to myself I didn’t know him.  But he was still staring.  I wasn’t wearing a purple leopard print onesie and 10-inch (is that possible?!) heels and I did not feel I stood out or looked out of the ordinary.  Strange.  He was the most starey person – I ended up looking at him three times and only the arrival of the train seemed to distract him – but I have caught a lot of people looking at me, men and women but probably mainly women.  This is not something I’m used to and not something I like.  Being stared at by strangers has given me a perspective on how weird it must be to be famous and have people looking at you as if they know you but you don’t know them.

I have also found it slightly odd that I don’t feel I blend in in a crowd, more odd considering I didn’t notice that as much with no hair.

I went on holiday to Kazakhstan over Easter and met some lovely people who met me for the first time, as blonde.  I found it really strange that they got to knowYellow glasses, yellow hair - but laughing, so maybe it's true about blondes and fun?!  (photo taken at the top of Bayterek Tower, Astana) me looking completely different to how I usually look and even feel.  All of this emphasises once again how your hair has a huge impact on your confidence, appearance and identity.  On that trip, I took flights between London and Almaty and three domestic flights.  It’d take a fair bit of totting up to count roughly how many people did at least a double take looking at my passport photo (taken almost ten years ago and with a long bob of brown hair) and matching it to me!

Have I enjoyed being blonde?  Not particularly.  Have I had more fun?  No, though neither have I had less fun.  Has anyone not recognised me?  Yes, probably more people than I expected!  Has it changed me?  I was going to say no but now I’ve had it for a month I’m starting to feel that I should conform to a short, blonde, messy-haired stereotype of being cool and funky and I feel there is a chance I’m beginning to try to look cool and funky (I’m worried about a possible mutton/lamb scenario).  I have also avoided swimming pools in situations where I might otherwise have used them.  I am convinced my hair will go green.

I’ve just thought of another thing that I’ve found kind of interesting, namely the (seeming) honesty and decisiveness of opinion with which friends have expressed their thoughts, ranging from “Ooo, it’s not you” to “Wow, you look really cool”, and “you should stay blonde” to “at least it’s not permanent”!  Whatever will I talk about and make small talk about when my hair becomes more normal?



Four months of growth and greyness and fluffThe matching seahorse wasn't planned!I’ve done it!  First trip to the hairdresser (aside from an over-ear trim about three weeks ago – thank you again, Angela) today, prompted by the horrible photo on the left (the shaggy fluffy look) which I took on the 14th, with a more magazine style!exactly four months of growth.

I had a chat with the hairdresser while she was washing my hair in anticipation of my clipper and trim about bleaching it.  She had time to do it, I had time to stay in the hairdresser so I went blonde!  For the first time ever.  I am now mirror obsessed again.  My new grey was the lightest my hair had ever been, now it’s a whole new pale.  I may have over-plucked my eyebrows though as they seemed more exposed with shorter, lighter hair.  Oh well, all part of the new look … right?!

I am still asked fairly frequently how I’m finding short hair, whether I’ll have it long again, whether I’ll dye it any exciting colours and what on earth I’ll do with it in terms of having it cut into a style.  I was plodding along with it growing wildly fluffy and getting annoyed with it, hence today’s, “Right, that’s it, I’m going to get my hair cut”.  The fourth salon I enquired in had someone free there and then, so that’s where I went.
With normal glassesBlonde is bizarre and I have no idea how long I’ll keep it this colour, but I’m pleased with it being shorter again.  It’s a lot of fun being experimental with my hair and I feel that it’s given me a “look”, albeit one that I haveFluffy, messy four-month hair yet to grow into.

I’m glad I kept thinking I might write this again because it was seeing the photos of it from the side and back that made me decide to take action.  There is an abundance of photos of me with this post, which I apologise for, but I had lots taken as I am fascinated by how different I now look!  This may well be the only month or so of blondness so I thought it’d be good to have it documented for posterity.  I have learned a valuable lesson today, which is that life is too short to keep hair fluffy for longer than a day.  Cut, cut, cut and, hey, while you’re at it, why not bleach, bleach, bleach!Attempt at arty with the new look

 



Three months of hair growth and use of a styling productI had intended to write on the 14th of each month for hair updates, but, hey, it turns out greys have more fun!  (Or possibly just a coincidence that I have been out dawn to dark the past two nights!)  I did, however, accurately catalogue my hair progress in one photo on the 14th.  The “bed hair” and “post-wash hair” photos below are from today.  I am explaining that as I am still convinced it grows noticeably every day, but I suspect no one would have noticed had I not said anything.

After two months, I remember feeling ready to get a trim and shape.  I then progressed to thinking I’d just get a friend to clipper it short all over.  I am now on day four of hair product experimentation and I think there could be a further week where the novelty factor keeps me enthusiastic about it.  Some time after then, I predict I will start moaning that it needs a cut/it’s too long, etc.

Morning/bed hairThis photo is from this morning, pre-hair wash.  It’s not a good look, though probably looks worse close-up than in this photo.  (I would like it noted that the apparent red face in the non-mirror half of this photo is nothing to do with alcohol consumption.  Why am I not red in the mirror?  Bad camera, right?!)

 

aerial view of grey, fluffy hairThese photos are post-hair wash and you can see how fluffy it is.  The aerial selfie is to demonstrate how much hair there is! post-wash fluffI really don’t think I had that much hair before.

Likewise, I used to have “long, brown hair”.  In a matter of minutes, I went to “short, grey hair”.  What’s all that about?!  Well, the “short” bit is obvious, but all that grey?

 

A friend sent me a few suggested hair cut photos the other day.  Two of the three I really liked but it’s immediately apparent they all need time and hair products, which has never appealed to me.  So I’m back to square one of what to do with it.  Getting it clippered would leave the “what next?” issue outstanding and getting it cut will mean I’ll need to add another few minutes to my current very minimal hair care regime.  ie I have a clay squeezy product (seriously, the choice of short hair products has ballooned since I last had short hair, I have no idea whether I want clay, gel, putty …) that I rub into my hands then smooth onto my hair.

As for some general thoughts on my hair:

I prefer having short to long hair and still don’t think I’ll ever have long hair again.

At this length, I definitely feel that people who don’t know me would assume I chose to have hair this long [I wonder why I didn’t write “short”].  But I still feel I stand out, though actually to me that feels more because of its colour than its shortness.

I reiterate from month two that there is a MASSIVE difference in terms of confidence where other people’s staring is concerned the more hair you have from scalp-short.  I know that sounds obvious but it’s a far stronger feeling than I expected.

I wanted to do something to raise money for Macmillan and shaving all my hair off seemed an appropriate thing to do as it would also give me a bit of an understanding of what it’s like to have no hair (and I do emphasise “a bit” of an understanding because I really can appreciate it’s a hugely different mental process if you are ill, undergoing harsh treatment and you don’t know if, how or when your hair will return).  As a bonus, I have enjoyed the past five or so months more than I would ever have imagined possible, both in terms of fundraising and all things hair related.

A lot, in fact most, of my tops look very different on me with long hair versus short hair.  I hadn’t expected that really.  Some things I used to think suited me (ie with long hair) now look awful and a bit vice versa.

I actually feel my hair is less feminine now than when it was shorter … yes, I really do need to either clipper it or get it trimmed ready to grow into a style!  I keep seeing men with similar-looking hair.  There is only one jacket I have that I am happy to wear as the others make me look and feel butch.

My hair was baby-soft from about one week to maybe three weeks.  Now it feels more like “normal” hair, but the back is a lot softer (because there’s less grey?) than the top.

I still feel a need to thank everybody who sponsored me, I still find it amazing to have raised £3,190.  Thank you!

I got an email about two weeks ago from Little Princess Trust that they had received my hair … which had been locked in a post box they hadn’t been able to access since it had been used over the Christmas holiday (my hair was sent in mid-late December).  I now have my hair certificate but I suspect my hair by then was too old.  (I prefer this to realising it was most probably definitely maybe *denial* more than 10% grey!)

I’m hoping that month four, 14th April 2014, will be my last hair update and that I will by then be able to display a photo of a really funky style!

 

 



Two months of hair growthSo this is me (I liked the “arty” blurred look, hence choosing this photo rather than one in focus) this morning, two months to the day when I went from long scraggly hair to pretty much complete baldness.  Guess what?  I kind of like it!  I’ve pretty much accepted the greyness but I still spend far too much time stroking my head/hair.

As for short hair observations over the past month, I have had far more positive comments than I would ever have imagined (and I’m ever fairly sure at least most of them are meant honestly) and a fair few people, when I’ve mentioned that I shaved it for charity, have said they’d thought I’d had it cut as a style choice.  So there’s definitely been a move away from the assumption I’ve undergone chemotherapy.

Over the past two weeks, I have increasingly had bad bed hair.  Mind you, it’s fairly easy to remedy – another quick wet-down in the wash basin, towel dry and rub!  My biggest issue has been that it is far too long at the back (!) and sticks out over my ears too much to be anything other than funny.  I am ashamed to say I spend a lot of time looking at my hair in mirrors, reflections, etc.  I find it fascinating to see my head and how I feel that my face has changed and to see what colour it’s coming out.  Yes, yes, grey!

I feel that by month three I will have had to cut it in some way.  I am also still wondering about dyeing it blond.

I’ve been asked a few times if I’d shave it off again, to which I can comfortably say that, for example, if I dyed it blond and hated it or got fed up with the roots, I’d have no qualms shaving it off again.  However, I would prefer to have at least two weeks’ worth of growth rather than being as bald as I was initially.

Positive though I am about it, I very much appreciate the fact that it was my decision, my choice, to shave it off.  Even being ok about the thought of being bald again, I would still feel differently if I was forced to get rid of my hair.

However, in terms of outward appearance and confidence, I have enjoyed displaying my head rather than trying to hide it.  I also feel, very unexpectedly, more confident about my appearance.  I don’t know why but there is a possibility that, where I’d worried about standing out for having no hair, the standing out element is what has made me more confident instead of more shy.  Again, this all reiterates my long standing belief that your hair is a massive part of who you are, how you feel and how other people perceive you.

As for Macmillan, thanks to everyone who sponsored me, I think it’s fairly safe to say that a grand total has been reached and, with an additional £25 sent in as a cheque, that total is £3,190!  So you see, every £10 and every single pound more than that that you donated made a huge difference and got the total over £1,000, over £2,000 and even over £3,000!!  Thank you.A less arty, greyer photo of two months of hair growth

 



{14/01/2014}   Stubble – One Month

Exactly one month of hair growthA month ago this morning I had long hair; a month ago this afternoon, I had no hair.  Now, I have a pinchable stubble which is, without doubt, far more grey than my hair ever seemed while it was long!

Over the past month, I have spent time in the UK, the USA and Mexico.  In the US, a fair few people approached me, one to ask if I was going through what she was, to which I explained why my hair was as short as hers.  I also had lots of strangers commenting on my “cool hair”!  I was more surprised by those positive style-related comments than any to do with health, etc.  In Mexico, similarly, a fair few strangers (at least six)  made positive comments about my hair, which made me feel that it’s now at a length more likely to be a choice cut than a health cut, as it were.

I have also spent time in cold weather (the UK) and warm/hot weather (US and Mexico).  I enjoyed feeling the sun on my head, though I doubt the temperature was ever above 25c.  I used a gel-based sun screen and, fortunately, didn’t get a sunburnt scalp.  My scalp is very dry though so I’m going to have to moisturise it thoroughly.

So, what observations about the past month:

Looking back (ie I didn’t feel this at the time), the longer my hair gets, the easier it is to feel “normal” and just someone who’s made a hair style choice.  I now feel it would be kind of hard to go back to bald, though I shouldn’t feel like that as it only took a few weeks to grow to this.

I appreciate that Americans are more likely to openly ask you about your hair than Brits who (as I would) make assumptions but don’t actually seek confirmation of what they think.

I am sure that US Immigration, while I had two weeks of hair growth, let me through quicker than everyone else because they thought I might be ill and would sue them for undue stress as a result of immigration Q&A/interrogation.  I was still asked direct, brusque questions about my stay in the US, but, having waited in the passport queue for 45 minutes, I know I was one of the quickest non-US residents through.

The immigration officer who let me back into the US from Mexico (just shy of four weeks of hair growth) actually made a light hearted comment about my hair and my passport photo after I told him why I’d done it, though his comment about my photo initially was more along the lines of, “You’ve changed the colour of your hair”.  Ahem, yes, see, it’s very grey versus largely brown!

The UK immigration officer had a friendly chat to me about my hair.  I felt even more happy to be home than usual.  Nice man.

People recognise me.  I realise I stand out a lot more than ever before.  I stayed five days in a town in Mexico, Ensenada, and I can say without hesitation that everyone I encountered in shops more than once recognised me and often made reference to things I’d looked at before, things I’d said to them, etc.  It was nice but also a very unfamiliar concept to me.

I am still stroking my hair a lot.  It doesn’t feel as velvety as it did initially but I still love stroking my own hair/head.  My friend even took a photo of me walking by the sea, absent mindedly stroking my hair.Caught stroking my head absent mindedly

For ease, for travelling, for extra shower time; short hair that doesn’t need styling is so the way forward!

There is no way my hair will be made into a wig as I am undeniably more than 10% grey!

Maybe this is only my experience, from someone who didn’t have to shave their head for medical reasons, but I feel a lot more vulnerable and look-at-me-I’m-ill when I wear any kind of head cover/hat that isn’t a normal hat.  I feel a lot more confident when I just have a bare head.  I had thought I wouldn’t be brave enough to reveal my head, particularly for the first week or two, but it’s been wearing non-winter hats that has made me feel most self-conscious.  There has been one hat/cover that’s worked ok, and that is the Anna Hat from Wigs4U. http://www.wigs4u.co.uk/pages/headwear/details.asp?inventory_id=635&origUrl=/pages/headwear/index.asp? I have also worn that a few times at night (it has never come off in the night, probably due to the area of elastic at the back).

Saturday, 11 January 2014 About to ride on the back of this 1350cc Harley!I wore a motorcycle helmet a few days ago and when I took it off after a couple of hours, I had distinct indentations in my hair.  I also think I felt it moving in the wind earlier today!  So I don’t think its growing straight out will last much longer.

£3,155 has been raised for Macmillan!  THANK YOU.  I still feel somewhat overwhelmed, amazed and really, really proud to be able to give that money to such a fantastic charity.  The loss of every single strand of hair was most definitely worth it.



{26/12/2013}   Bald – Week Two

Tinsel head!My hair is continuing to grow … grey!

I am kind of forgetting I stand out a bit for having such short hair but I do notice a few people staring at me.  However, I haven’t had any negative experiences, which I had expected.

I don’t know how I feel about being this grey because it feels like it’s suddenly happened.

On Saturday, I’m going to San Diego, where it will be about 22 degrees.  Only one of my not very pleasant hats looks acceptable.  However, I think sun cream may be the way forward so I can get a face and scalp tan rather than merely a face tan!

I am very much looking forward to not having plane hair.  I used to get awful plane hair.  It would go really straight and full of static and look hideous.  None of that this time, hurrah!

For me, this hasn’t been anywhere near as bad as I expected and I would go so far as to say that I am happy with so little hair.  However, I realise there is a big difference between how I felt with almost no hair and how I have felt since I’ve had about a grade one.  A Kojak for longer than a day or two for novelty value would be a lot harder to deal with than my merely very short hair.  However, I reiterate that not wearing a hat or head cover makes me feel a lot better than when I do wear a hat.  Wearing a hat, being someone who rarely wears hats, makes me feel like I’m trying to hide something.

I won’t write on Saturday for the two-week update but I will next write from the US to see how life with short hair is in California where the sun will be shining and it will be warm.

https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/karinagoesbald



{22/12/2013}   Bald – Day 9

Platinum? Distinguished? Grey?!My hair is grey.  Most of it.  For now I don’t mind but I appear to have interesting stripes of my childhood brown hair … I knew it was going to end up marbled.

I have put up a photo taken today – spot the non-grey hairs?!

I am largely enjoying having short hair, though it now feels like it needs to be shaved to about a 1 because it’s now long enough that when you stroke it against the grain, it bends a bit rather than just being like a bristle.  It grows so quickly.

Today I realised that there is a big difference between no hair and stubble like mine.  I feel less of a need to be defiant now that it’s a bit longer.  It’s still a learning curve though and I’m looking forward to seeing how things go on Saturday when I go through US immigration with my long-hair passport!

https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/karinagoesbald



{21/12/2013}   Bald – Week 1

My hair is growing so much that I contemplated shaving it again today, though to a 1 rather than another 0 and shave.

I can’t believe I had long hair a week ago.  I am much preferring having shorter hair, though I still can’t see my reflection and ignore it.  My head/stubble feels lovely today and I’m very much enjoying having my own strokeable head.

Overall, to my huge surprise, I have actually liked having a shaved head, leading to very short hair.

I do believe my “look”, such as it ever is or was, is different but that I like it.  However, it does make me feel a bit defensive with potential for feeling vulnerable.  I am not at all comfortable wearing any of the no-hair hats I bought as they make me feel like I’m trying to conceal a bald head, which in turn makes me feel I have something to hide, for example chemotherapy treatment.  But, unlike most chemotherapy patients, I do have hair growth and maybe that makes a bigger difference than I have appreciated.

In terms of care and maintenance, why would you want hair???!!  It’s easy to wash, there’s no styling or drying required and, as a head-stroking friend put it the other day, it feels like baby hair velvet.

https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/karinagoesbald

 



{20/12/2013}   Bald – Day 7

Yes, yes, I missed a day!

Over today and yesterday I had a lot of hair and no hair conversations and yesterday my head was stroked loads, by me and others, which I actually kind of enjoyed!  It’s very velvety and soft now.  Oh, and very silvery.  Very.

I stood in a queue at a garden centre today and heard two separate pairs of people talking about people with cancer undergoing chemotherapy.  I’m fairly sure the sight of my almost-a-week-old hair triggered those two conversations.

Last night, I was outdoors when there was a hail storm.  I had no hat on and no umbrella.  The pellets of hail hurt my head and felt really weird.

I largely like my new look, unexpectedly.  Plus it feels great!

And, guess what, now up to £3,100 on the fundraising page and another £25 I need to post to Macmillan, totalling £3,125.

I can’t believe how different I feel today than this time last week.

https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/karinagoesbald



et cetera