3 Months Later- Five more things…

Exactly three months ago today, I shaved my head. I’m still not totally sure why I did it, but it’s the best impulsive decision I’ve ever made.
Less than a month earlier I was dropped by my Acting agent, which needless to say, was pretty fucking devastating. In looking for the positives, (searching frantically, desperately, maniacally for anything resembling positivity) I realised that for the first time in three years, I had total freedom to do what I wanted with my appearance. For me, this was always going to result in a dramatic change in hairstyle.

I began, (seriously why did I do this?) by bleaching my hair, by myself, at home. 40 quid, singed ears, and quite a few tears of regret later, I was left with a toxic neon birds nest of matted hideousness. I quickly dyed over the yellow mess with a patchy dark brown, but the damage was already done. My once silky soft hair was now crispy, matted, and so porous it took hours to dry and style.
I have a theory that in her adult life, every woman develops a belief that she can do hair.
A friend of mine once arrived uncharacteristically late to work, and subsequently explained he’d been getting an emergency haircut, in an attempt to reverse what his wife had done to him the night before with clippers. Repairing the damage cost him 30 quid. It’s as though we all of a sudden decide that hairdressers train for three years, not because they need to, but just for the hell of it. They pay hundreds of pounds for their scissors, sure, but your miscellaneous kitchen drawer pair will do just as good a job. Oh you can French plait? Then you’re more than qualified to cut in a fringe.

I would try to warn you against trying this at home, but the warning would be futile. It’s like we have to do it once, or in my case multiple times, to realise what a farce it is. I cannot preach this loudly enough:

Your hairdresser is worth every penny you pay them.

A photographer I model for sometimes had said in passing, a while back, how much I would suit a shaved head. I didn’t think too much of it at the time, but over the next few weeks and months, I couldn’t get the image out of my head. At the time though, it was impossible. I needed to a) look like my headshots and b) consult my agent about any major image alterations. (It was said awesome photographer who took my INSANE new headshots, thank you Rekha!).

A few days post bleaching disaster, I got to thinking about this again. I was sat on an aeroplane that was taking far too long to taxi. The ‘fasten your seatbelt’ signs had been on for a good 11 minutes but we were going nowhere. So I broke protocol, turned off airplane mode and messaged my hairdresser.

I have total faith (in all walks of life, but especially hair) in this man. If he didn’t think something was a good look for me, he just wouldn’t do it. So this response was the only encouragement I needed. As for worrying over having no hair, this was easy, Because the hair I had left anyway, was shit. Three months later, still no regrets!
I do have a few observations though…

Five MORE things that happen when you shave your head:

1) People are OBSESSED with telling you how difficult it will be to grow out this look. Yep, thank you for your stunning insight, Susan. I’m not actually planning on growing it out any time soon though. What would be the point in shaving my hair only to immediately grow it out again? I could just cut out the middle man and not shave it in the first place.

2) You suddenly find all the hair pins and bands that mysteriously vanished over the years, back when you had hair and really needed them.

3) You realise how fucking quickly hair grows. This is a weird one. It took me over a year to grow out a block fringe (after another fateful bout of over confident hairdressing) and yet with the buzz, I start looking like a dandelion puffball after a mere five weeks. I couldn’t even be mad at my friend when he said I looked like Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber. Because I did. I will never unsee this.

4) Strong earring game becomes a must.

5) You become the subject of both Nazi and holocaust victim jokes. Sometimes in the same sentence. Next level Taboo.

Bonus Thing!
This haircut gave me hope.
I know exactly who just laughed then, and you can shuddup. I joke about it, but losing my agent and then ultimately leaving the agency itself was really difficult. It’s one of the worst things in the world to spend years of your life training and fighting for something, only to have it snatched back when you finally get there. I work full time as a waitress. And don’t get me wrong, it is AWESOME! I work in a super nice restaurant and my work friends are amazing- seriously I love you all dearly- but its not what my heart beats for. Graduating drama school was the fight of my life, and it used up every ounce of energy, stubbornness and will I had. It was everything. And now I’m unsigned and my last audition was nearly a month ago. I HATE wallowing. But at the time, I couldn’t seem to help myself. And nothing would snap me out of it. Until I shaved my head. I felt a new lease of life pulsing through my veins. I felt invincible. I felt as though there was nothing to hide behind any more, and that made me completely free. Ironically, in the three months since cutting my hair, I’ve had more auditions and roles than in the entire year I was with my agent.

I do get that if you want to change your life, you should change your life. But sometimes that can be in the form of a haircut. After all…


The buzzgirl

He’s a Stud, She’s a slut.

Gender based prejudice is so socially ingrained into us, even the best of us don’t realise we are part of the problem. I learnt recently of a comment made by a friend, upon learning that I had slept with a co-worker, the third in a year.
I bet I’ve already baited some of you into proving my point. Three? In a year? Slut? Depends on your definition. To me, words like slut and slag are socially engineered (made up) words designed to hold women to different standards than men.
‘Wow, she’s working her way through’.
This comment, though no doubt made in passing, without realisation that I’d ever hear about it, is a perfect example.
And I suppose it’s fair enough. But how many women would a guy my age, or thereabouts, have to sleep with to earn the same comments, and the same judgement.
It infuriates me that people view sex as a characteristic of someone’s personality and not just a physical act. Previous comments include: ‘Wow, I didn’t realise you were that kind of girl…’
Didn’t realise what though? That I have a vagina or that I sometimes like to use it. Am I really a different person, in your eyes, because I like to have casual sex sometimes? Or worse ‘You’ve changed’. No. I haven’t changed. You made an assumption about me that proved incorrect, and now you’re punishing me because the truth doesn’t fit with your preconceived perception of me. I haven’t been deliberately hiding a secret side of my personality, I just don’t broadcast my private life. Because it is that, private.

I’ve realised that when I write for this blog, I often fall into the trap of hiding my emotions behind fancy vocabulary and contentious arguments. A method of self protection, probably. But the truth is, when I heard those comments about me, I felt really bad. I felt like I had failed. I felt dirty. I felt like a fuck-up that no one decent would ever want. I felt shit, basically.

I’m not ashamed of anything that I have done, sexually or otherwise. And shaving my head has definitely forced me to care less and less about what other people think of me. But I am a human being. I have feelings and emotions; I’m soft in the middle and my blood runs red. When you make that offhand remark I laugh along with you, because I’m one of the crew, she can take a joke that one, she knows it’s only banter. It’s true, I know you don’t say these things with malice. But it doesn’t stop them hurting.
If you’ve made a comment like that to me, or about me, chances are I’ve probably cried over it.

Make no mistake, this is not a ‘male problem’. Often, women are just as quick to judge other women. The trouble is, until you are on the receiving end, no one tells you how rotten it feels to be besmirched.

And I know I’m not the only affronted party. The last thing I want is to be non-inclusive, or to portray myself as the innocent martyr. I’m sure I have perpetrated comments of an equally harmful nature. I confess, as a teenager I used phrases such as ‘man up’ and ‘that’s so gay’, not realising what a harmful rhetoric this was. I understand that these thoughts and phrases are so latently interwoven into our vocabulary and our ideology, that they seem okay. But they’re not. Suicide is the single biggest killer in the UK of men under 45. In 2018, 84 men took their own lives per week. Considering how taboo the discussion of mental health is amongst males, imagine what the remark ‘man up’ could do to a bloke on the brink of mental collapse.

I accept to an extent that we are socially programmed to think the way we do. That decades –centuries– of double standards and unrealistic gender expectations are, in part, to blame. The sad truth is that this is the world and the society we live in. But we do have the power to change this. And we must.
I saw a glittering, shining light, at the end of the tunnel the other day. I was exchanging views with a friend at work, and he suddenly said to me: ‘Babe, I’ve no idea how many girls I’ve slept with, and do you think i ever ask a girl that question? It’s not important to me.’ I didn’t realise how much I needed to hear those words until he said them. But I did. I needed to know that people like him exist.
In my heart of hearts I know that it’s nobody’s business how many people I sleep with or don’t sleep with. But I want the world to know that too. I want to live a life where I am judged on the content of my character and not the intimate details of my private life. So, please, the next time you open your mouth to make a comment, or a joke pertaining to this: think about what you’re saying, think about the wider repercussions of your words. That is all I ask of you.


The BuzzGirl


Last weekend I went to a music festival. On the Sunday afternoon, several ciders deep, we were lazing sleepily on the sunny grass, slightly jaded from the previous two evenings exploits. A fellow camper friend commented in passing how in awe he was of the female body, and how at times he felt inescapably jealous of women, their bodies, their minds, their sexuality. I found myself completely astounded by this confession, as ever since puberty, I have felt constantly at war with my reproductive organs.

When I set off aged 18 to drama school in London, I became trapped in an endless cycle of UTIs. Here’s the thing about UTIs, a full blown urinary tract infection (frankly I’m done hiding behind letters to preserve the modesty of grown adults). They’re more painful than any other ailment I’ve suffered so far in my 22 years, yet no employer considers them serious enough to warrant time off work, doctors see them as low priority, and unless you’ve experienced one yourself (those who know, know) you probably wonder what all the fuss is about. But when you’re writhing around on the kitchen floor like a snake on acid, or you’re camped out in the bathroom with your duvet waiting for the most recent gallon of water to pass through you so you can bask in the golden but temporary relief that is urination; it’s hard not to feel personally attacked by the receptionist that marked you as a low priority or the nurse that wouldn’t give you antibiotics because you’ve had them twice this month already and he doesn’t want you to build resistance. The degradation of walking through a waiting room full of strangers holding a paper bag-wrapped piss pot, only to be be told what you already knew, yes it’s a UTI, yes you will need antibiotics. Yes these antibiotics will probably give you thrush, from which you will be in extreme discomfort and pain, and for which you will eventually need yet more drugs. The best part? You will repeat the entire cycle again in less than three weeks time, and at at least six weekly intervals going forward.

The next healthcare professional to quiz me on wiping properly, or urinating after sex, may have to duck to avoid having my warm sample tube thrown in their face. I understand, they are doing their jobs. But in 2019, why aren’t we doing better?

Why are women still having to fight so hard for people to believe in our pain? Why are we not trusted to know our bodies, to understand our own bodies?

I could tell you twenty stories of a woman, in pain, being told that what is currently happening inside her body, is normal. Natural. Nothing to worry about. In essence being told: You’re in pain, yes, so you should be, and this is the way you will live your life. And every woman I know, has 20 stories.

Maybe this is where innate, angry, screaming feminism comes from. The injustice of the pain.

True, most of us can carry babies. And if I ever have children, maybe one day I will appreciate what that means. But right now it’s not enough. Right now, I cannot take comfort from that. Because right now, it’s lying awake for three consecutive nights, wondering about that broken condom. Its passing out on the tube because the nausea side effects of Regivedon finally got too much. Right now its Toxic Shock. Don’t get me started on sex.

In a world where Trump and his minions are infringing on the rights of our transatlantic sisters in the most invasive and brutal of ways, perhaps I ought to feel grateful that I live here in the UK where contraception and family planning is readily available. But I’m not. Why should I? Why should I feel grateful for what ought to be a basic human right?

Instead I feel furious. When I read that development of the male contraceptive has been halted, due to side effects that are an immeasurable fraction of what countless women suffer each day, I am furious.

When a school friend, after seven years of being told her period pains are normal, is finally given a diagnosis of endometriosis, I am furious.

When I hear someone, anyone, remark: ‘She must be on her period’. I. Am. Furious.

The worst part, the best part, the beautiful part. Is that I love being a girl. I love being a woman. I love what femininity is, the power it yields. I love my body, I love to feel strong, to feel fragile, to be sexy, and beautiful and visceral.

And yet I struggle so much with my identity as a young woman. Even shaving my head, was, to an extent a desperate attempt to subvert what society says it is to be a woman. And why? My theory is this:

I love my femininity, but in that, I am expected to love the pain. To be grateful for all the pain and misgivings forced upon my sex. To see pain as a necessary side effect to what is an otherwise resplendent existence.

And maybe if we are allowed to break away from the acceptance of pain, the resignation, that pain is ours to bear. Maybe then we stand a chance of seeing in ourselves, the same things my lovely, pure hearted friend saw, when he told me he was in awe of the female body.

10 Things That Happen When You Shave Your Head

Quentin Crisp once said, ‘Fashion is what you adopt when you don’t know who you are‘.  For me, it is- it has always been- hair.

From the day I realised, aged 13, that two and a half week’s pocket money could buy me a bar of Lush Cosmetics organic Henna (available in 5 shades), fucking with my hair became an obsession.  From ages 14-19, in photos, I am limbs, who-nose, FRINGE. It was my sight inhibiting, forehead-acne inducing, armour. From home bleaching disasters to lopsided bangs, I’ve done the lot.

I’ve never been able to escape the belief that when I finally find the perfect do, I’ll suddenly know who I am.  As Phoebe Waller Bridge recently epitomised, Hair Is Everything. (Anthony)

I know I’m not alone.  If you ever see a female over the age of 11 years dye her hair an alarming shade of red, or worse, shave a cross section of her scalp, leave her be.  Some serious shit is going down.

2019 has been interesting.  Shit has gone down. I am four days into a somewhat impulsive but #NOREGRETS buzz cut.  Here are my thoughts so far.

  1. Your head gets cold.
  2. People spontaneously burst into renditions of Sinead O’Connors ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’
  3. Male co-workers subconsciously start including you in the mysterious male handshake business.
  4. Inevitable lesbianism remarks.  
  5. Total strangers tell you you look like Annie Lennox. (100% a compliment)
  6. You develop a complex about the size of your ears.
  7. Each of your work friends tells one of a repertoire of four jokes, and each thinks they are original.
  8. An elderly relative prays for your soul.
  9. You join the secret worldwide clan of short haired women.  You smile at each other conspiratorially on the tube and some small part of you finds the sense of self you were looking for in the first place.  
  10. Hair ruffles.  Without permission. Without warning.  

Conclusion so far: It’s not the answer. But it’s something. What?

Dunno, but I’ll keep you posted x