by Emily Smith
Assistant Opinion Editor
Momma’s back and she’s got a whole helping of self-love, so get ready to eat up, kids. I have never liked the saying “new year, new me” because I have always liked myself to the point that I didn’t want the new year to bring about an equally new human self. Also, I don’t believe that people can really become “new” (although this has been debated with me on several occasions). So, in the past, to avoid cliches and to maintain to myself and the world that I do, indeed, like myself, I have stayed far away from that phrase that litters the new year, both ironically and literally.
However, this year, I realized that I needed a change of personal scenery of sorts to create myself into someone who I was particularly fond of again. If you have been following my personal writings in this fine writing establishment since last semester, you know that I’m somewhat of a self-love guru. Okay, maybe guru is too strong a word, but I certainly do like to talk about the brave act of loving yourself, and I also like sharing those thoughts with other people, even if they don’t necessarily want them. That being said, it was hard for me to understand that this year, much unlike other years, I was in a place where I wasn’t feeling the self-love vibes for myself. After a hard semester, I wondered if the feeling would pass once finals were long over, but I found myself caught in a rut that I wasn’t sure how to get out of.
In May of 2015, I decided to shave my head. After much deliberation, I chose to follow in the footsteps of friends and family alike and go bald for a cause. I started to fundraise under the St. Baldrick’s Day celebration in Rochester.
Although being bald was absolutely terrifying to me, I was excited to raise money and do something out of my comfort zone. Over the years, I had many hair styles and colors and was ready to go very au naturale for the first time in a while. As the date approached, I raised more money, and I felt more and more ready to chop off my shoulder-length, fake blonde hair. The day I moved out of my freshman year dorm for the summer, I went immediately to the venue where I would shave my head. The day flew by, and then POOF, I was bald.
When I say I was bald, I mean that I was really bald. My head, shaved by someone else, was 100% buzzed down to the scalp with only little tiny hairs left over. It was thrilling and terrifying and, most importantly, cold. I didn’t understand how much hair keeps your head warm until mine was gone! However, the amazing part about being bald was that I loved it. After the initial shock wore off, I looked in the mirror and was in love with how I looked and felt. Through years of changing my hairstyle very regularly, I felt like I had finally found something that I wanted to stick with for a long time.
After a few months, I let my hair grow out into another style I liked and I forgot all about my days as a baldy. Until very recently, I was planning to grow it out even longer. However, all the political changes have been making me feel exceptionally rebellious, so I revisited the idea of shaving my head once again.
As mentioned before, I truly believe that being in love with yourself is an act of bravery in a world that tells people that self-love isn’t valued. For this reason, thinking about shaving my head was very intimidating because I would be rebelling in a couple ways: by telling gender norms and female standards of beauty to go to hell, and by loving myself in my skin unabashedly. While this was intimidating, I also knew that I had to do it. Not because I’m braver than your average Jolene, but because I was so scared that I knew I had to push myself. With everything that has been happening in the world, as well as the way I felt about myself, I knew I had to do something to secure myself in my own personhood. This, for me, looked like going bald.
So, if you see me in the hallway and stare (I see you laughing at me, freshman boys), please know that I feel better than I have felt in a very long time and I am not ashamed to look a little different. I would encourage you all to lean into what you’re uncomfortable with and find love and light in doing so. It’s a new year, after all.