My True Hair Journey: Parts 5-6

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Author’s Note: While events in this story are true, names have been changed. If you’re interested, check out parts 1 & 2 of this series.

Part Five – The Experiment

It was halfway through the year and my haircut plans were not quite on track.

It turns out that the line of that bob I got in March was a lot more severe than I thought. Or else my hair was just growing a lot slower than I had anticipated. Even after four months of growth the hair at the back of my head was only in line with my lips (while the longest front sections could graze my collarbone when my hair was properly straightened).

Over the summer I underwent another holiday haircut because apparently I haven’t learnt anything from past mistakes.

Urgh I was so ready for a lip-length bob! It would be the shortest bob I’d ever gotten but I was prepared. It might have taken me a little time to get used to it but I was 100% willing to get the cut.

Have I ever been refused a haircut before? I don’t think so. I’ve ended up with haircuts that didn’t look like what I was expecting (ahem see my original undercut) but I genuinely don’t think I’ve ever been told: ‘oh no you don’t want that haircut, it would be far too dramatic’.

Yes, I have a secret hair fetish – gimme the short dramatic bob!

Instead I was given a less dramatic version of the bob I already had – with the back still higher than the front. I left with the assurance that before my friend’s wedding in November my hair will have reached a nice length at the back to allow for a much more suitable straight-line bob.

Honestly it was hard not to take the scissors to my hair in frustration. Due to the various A-line / inverted bobs and the variety of unwanted layers that have been added to my locks, it’s actually been years since all of my hair was the same length. I can’t wait until this last growing out period is over and I can change my hairstyle. Who would have thought I’d ever miss a simple, regular straight bob?

*

Faced with several boring months of letting my hair grow out, it eventually occurred to me that there was another way I could have my fun.

I knew I was going to wait until after the wedding to have my undercut expanded but surely I didn’t have to wait until December to explore what it felt like to have my nape shaved completed smooth. Something I’d yet to experience before. Why not try it over the summer for extra coolness during the heatwaves?

It was late August and I was ready. I’d actually let my undercut grow longer than normal for the extra fun of seeing those chucks of hair tumble down the cape. I had also decided to tell Nora (my local barberette) to ‘shave my nape as short as possible’. I’d opted against using the word ‘bald’ in my request in case Nora misinterpreted my wishes and shaved my entire head instead of just my nape. I’m not sure if I would be excited or terrified if that happened but goodness knows what the reaction would be if I’d walked into work the next day as a bald woman.

No, best be careful just in case.

Really careful in fact because I chickened out on the day.

It was honestly more a case of bad timing than anything else. I’m still getting used to going to barbershops and I’m always a little nervous since they’re such typically ‘men only’ places. As a result I try to time my visits to Nora’s barbershop during the quietest periods. However on this occasion I badly mistimed the trip. I didn’t want to go home only to try again later in the day and the barbershop to still be busy.

So I walked in and got a few curious looks but no one commented. There were a few people ahead of me so I decided that if no one came in after me and the place was empty then I’d ask Nora to shave my nape all the way.

But it wasn’t to be and I got super nervous with an audience watching me so I bottled the ultra short shave I’d been hoping for.

Then, as I was waiting, I had another idea. A wild idea that I’d actually been very tempted to do during lockdown. Something that I’d never done before. I had razors at home. Why not shave my nape myself?

I could do it. There was nothing stopping me doing it except a lack of any skill whatsoever and the adrenaline coursing through me wasn’t going to let a little issue like that get in the way.

And it didn’t!

Boy was I terrified when I realised this was an all or nothing kind of thing. Either I don’t shave my nape or I shave it all the way. If you change your mind partway through there’s no way to hide what you’ve done.

How did it go? Well…I think average would be a fair assessment. Considering I was by myself, this was my very first attempt, and I was using a hand-mirror to look behind me into a wall mirror whilst wielding a basic disposable razor in my free hand – I think I did ok. Far from perfect and with some clear issues but…not bad.

I hadn’t expected how hard it would be for my brain to translate what I saw in the hand-mirror to tell my hand what the correct angle to hold the razor should be. This wasn’t an issue until I got to my hairline. I was very conscious about going as slowly and carefully as possible. I didn’t want to angle the razor the wrong way and shave a longer section of my hair by mistake.

The end result was an uneven hairline. In some places I’d managed to get the razor in the right places and in others I was too low. I didn’t however shave off any chunks of hair above the line I was following so I consider that a win. The unevenness did mean I could only wear my hair in a low ponytail for a couple of weeks to hide my new hairline. A shame because I was looking forward to piling all my hair on top of my head in a messy bun and showing off my smooth nape. I did want to continue until my hairline was nice and neat but by this point adrenaline had turned my legs to jelly so I thought I’d better stop while I still could.

Despite this misadventure I have no regrets about shaving my nape myself. I don’t even mind too much that I didn’t do a perfect job of it. While I have no intention of ever shaving my nape alone ever again, I don’t regret doing it. I think if I hadn’t I would always wonder: what if? What if I’d done it when I had the chance? For me the endless ‘what if’ would have been worse than trying and sort of failing.

But this won’t be the end.

While I’m in no hurry to shave my nape myself I absolutely want to have it done professionally. I’d already found the perfect reference photo to show Kieron when I visit his unisex barbershop after the wedding to get the sides of my head shaved however now I’m going to show Keiron a second reference picture – one where the girl has the back and sides of her head shaved smooth rather than buzzed. What happens next I’ll have to wait and see – but if Keiron asks I’m definitely going to tell him to shave my hair as short as possible.

 

PART 6 – THE MOMENT ARRIVES

After all my haircut adventures and misadventures, the moment of my most daring style to date had finally arrived. I’ve loved having a shaved nape from the day I got my first undercut – now it was time to be brave and shave the sides of my head too.

I waited until after my friend’s wedding in November just in case I was unsure about how the style looked on me. There are several images taken at a different friend’s birthday of my terrible pre-undercut chin length bob and that’s what I always notice when I see the pictures (even if I’m the only who thinks the style looks bad on me). I didn’t want to repeat this moment.

Actually my friend was really amused when I told her I was waiting until after her big day. Why wait, she said. She’s was super excited about the upcoming change and I think she was tempted to drag me to a barbershop then and there. She didn’t mind how I wore my hair on the day and enthusiastically began suggesting hairstyles.

While I appreciated her enthusiasm I definitely would have felt self conscious posing next to my fellow bridesmaids with their lovely long wavy hair whilst I sported her suggestion of a short mohawk with patterns shaved into the sides of my hair.

*

One the day in question I was definitely more nervous than excited as I made my way to Keiron and the unisex barbershop he worked at. I don’t know if that was my normal nerves around going to a barbershop (one day I’ll not feel out of place entering one) or because this was a big change that I had been imagining for months.

But as soon as I sat down I started to relax and once again felt so grateful that I had first plucked up the courage two years ago to give this place a try. So many times I had encountered stylists who had never shaped an undercut before. Keiron has yet to be fazed by any of my requests.

I had my two reference pics loaded on my phone but Keiron understood what I wanted straight away and immediately set about creating the look. I had poured through Google Images finding every image I could based around the phrase ‘high undercut bob’. I didn’t want the sides of my head shaved all of the way up to the top of head. Rather halfway between the top of my head and my ears. I liked the style but couldn’t find any images of girls whose undercuts curved high above their occipital bone like mind did.

For my two reference pictures both girls’ undercuts swooped down and followed the curve of the bone to create an undercut/sidecut that was ‘U’ shaped. I’d grown my undercut out a bit in case I needed to change the shape of it but Keiron assured me that, for the mid-sidecut style I wanted, keeping my undercut at the height it was and shaving straight around my head would give me the position I was after.

He’s the expert. I trusted his judgement.

Funnily enough, despite creating a more dramatic shape overall, I didn’t actually need much of my hair shaved off at the sides due to the high curve of my undercut.

I knew before I walked in that I was going to give fate a say in this haircut. In one of my reference pictures the girl’s nape was shaved smooth and in the other the girl’s hair was faded. Whatever length Keiron suggested for the shave I’d agree with. I did make sure to show the girl with the bald nape for longer but Keiron had zeroed in on the short fade. Maybe because, as a barber, this would be the more interesting cut for him to create as it required the most skill out of the two? Or maybe he simply thought I wouldn’t want part of my head shaved bald.

Next time. Although perhaps it was more thrilling for me getting the fade after all because I had no idea exactly how short Keiron was shaving my hair until he showed me in the mirror.

I loved the experience and I’m definitely going to keep the sides shaved for a while. Having my sideburns shaved means the lack of two annoying locks of hair that I don’t have to keep tucking behind my ears. And now when I do tuck my hair behind my ears you can see a cute little shaved section at the front that hints at something more mysterious going on at the back.

*

But my haircut journey for 2022 was not quite over. There was still one more style I’d promised myself to try before the end of the year – a completely bald undercut. (Professionally done this time not my kind-of-ok attempts with a disposable plastic razor).

When I finally managed to subtly coincide my day off with a mid-week day (no nothing planned just fancied a change to the routine), I headed to Nora’s barbershop. This time I was in luck and the place was empty.

I fastened my hair into a rough bun on top of my head and settled into the barbers chair while Nora threw a long cream cape around me.

“What guard are we doing today?” she asked.

“Can I have my undercut shaved as short as possible?” was my response.

“Sure would you like a number 1 guard? Or did you want to try it without a guard?” Nora grinned at me in the mirror. We both knew what was coming but she was careful to wait for me to confirm the request.

“No guard please.”

I think Nora was excited as I was when she removed the plastic attachment and powered up a pair of large black clippers. She started at my sideburn so I could see what it would look like but of course by this first stage it was already too late to turn back as Nora systematically worked her way around my head.

The clippers felt so good against my skin and now my undercut extended around the sides of my head the process, while still brief, lasted longer than normal with Nora carefully shaving around my hairline.

The only problem however is that those big clippers, even without a guard, couldn’t remove all the hair from the back of my head. There is still the slightest bit of stubble remaining.

I confess I was a little disappointed (ha if only my younger self with her dislike of haircuts could see me now!) but I wanted to take my hair shorter and shorter in stages. A no guard buzzed undercut is simply another stage in the journey. Although next time I want to see what other clippers Nora has in her arsenal. Next time, with luck, I can go shorter still.

WHAT COMES NEXT?

It’s the end of 2022 so what are my hair goals for 2023?

Unlike this year I don’t have a definite end point in mind. I’m going to try out some different lengths and see how I feel closer to the time.

My new expanded undercut will of course be here to stay. Let’s see how many times I can experience a bald nape! At the moment the shaved section at the sides of my head comes up to about an inch above my ears. I’m thinking I might take it up another centimetre to make the side shave more noticeable when my hair is down. We’ll see.

I do have one absolute hair goal must and that is to finally get an ear length bob. I’ve wanted a bob that short since I was at university but was scared off by an unflattering chin length bob. I didn’t want to risk going higher at the time but, now I have an undercut, I think the style will look a lot better without all that thick hair.

I don’t know if I’ll go straight to an ear length bob for my next haircut or go chin length first and enjoy how it feels with my new sidecut. Either way that short bob will be happening – undercut on full display.

After that I’ll just have to see how bold I feel…

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