by Zazie Tobey, staff writer
The leaves are changing, burning brush sits in the breeze and beanies are getting tugged over exposed scalps. Lately a noticeable head shaving phenomenon has been sweeping campus, whether its half of a head, the underside, a small secret patch, or the entire thing reduced to a buzz, students are expressing themselves through their hair, or lack thereof.
Ranging from personal hygiene, to spiritual practices students have many reasons behind lopping off their locks.
“The reason I shaved my head is because I was facing a time of adversity and I needed to feel brave,” said Dingo Martin, a sophomore. “What helped me feel brave was the image of the Roman Legionnaire and how they have that big ‘poof’ on their helmet; I emulated that in my hairstyle.”
Shaved heads allow people to escape the traditional gender roles, as well as socially acceptable beauty standards. For women, the shaved head has achieved some sort of mainstream credibility, becoming merely another androgynous haircut among many possibilities.
“At Wilson it’s liberating to shave your head, no one judges you, they accept you for it,” said Sarah Montana, a junior on Hair Crew. “You can dye your hair whatever color you want, you can shave it, without any masculine or feminine labels.”
Montana sees all of the campus hair trends and has noticed an increase in shaving appointments, a craving for those rotating blades.
“A lot of people need a minute,” said Montana, “It’s a big decision for some people, but others come in like Valerie, and they just know for sure.”
Valerie Murphy, a sophomore, recently shaved her whole head because she wanted luscious locks again after the tole of switching from a redhead to brunette to blonde to blue last semester.
“I didn’t like having a pixie cut, so I decided to just get rid of all of it at once,” Murphy said. “Totally made the right choice and I love everything about it. It feels awesome and looks good and it is so fun to rub my head during class.”
Other bald hopefuls will hesitate a bit and realize that although it’s just hair, it’s a drastic change and long lasting journey to long hair again. Shannon Randall, a freshman bored with her hair, had been meditating on a shave for quite some time, finally arriving at the decision to take off half.
“It happened sooner than I planned on doing it,” Randall said. “[I thought] did I really just make an appointment to do that tomorrow?”
But after the shave, Randall was “really happy with it,” she said. “I didn’t do it for my personal appearance, I wanted to do this, and this is what my hair was going to look like – I was going to do it whether it looks good or not.”
Worrying about the style associated with head shaving is one matter, but with all body modifications one has to wonder if there is metaphorical or spiritual thinking associated with the change; something more than just the satisfaction of looking in the mirror after.
“I guess I sort of needed to prove something to myself that I am strong and above the bullshit and beautiful no matter what,” said Rebecca Truitt, a sophomore who shaved her head last December. “Even though there would be a lot of things missing from my life, I was going to overcome it. I guess I needed to see how it felt to have something that people always admired about me, my blonde hair, gone completely. It represented this weight being lifted from my life, literally, from my head.”
Julie Gillum, a dance and performance art professor at Warren Wilson who has a shaved head and a long braid, initially cut her hair because it was more convenient for dancing and popular for butoh dancers.
“I just wanted to see what it would look like,” Gillum said.
But for Gillum there were also spiritual reasons for cutting her hair
“I had a bad back injury and I had to be a Samurai to get through it,” she said. If Gillum ever shaves her head again it will be in a public performance art setting.
For other students, hair shaving is primarily a health, or style related decision. Many students claim their hair was in such poor condition due to lots of hair dye and bleach, shaving it and re-growing healthy locks was the best, and only option.
“I had a really big smelly dread and it was humid,” said Matt Falzon, a sophomore.
The high maintenance associated with long hair is another popular reason for deciding to shave.
“[I shaved my head] mostly because it was super thick, washing it takes forever, brushing it takes forever,” said junior Regina Cherene. “It was a huge hassle and I was sick of dealing with it.”
Cherene did not intend on making any sort of statement with her lack of hair, but found that she still got inquiries as to why she decided on that hairstyle.
“I guess it’s kind of like not shaving my legs,” said Cherene. “It just happens to be a statement because not a lot of females end up doing it.”
Some Wilson students view head shaving as a trend that is no longer a radical, outlandish thing to do, but rather a form of popular modern day expression.
“Head shaving isn’t such a unique thing anymore,” said Gillum. “But being in college is all about figuring yourself out, that self expression that I’m glad to see students embracing.”