Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Finish This Sentence: Bald Is...

I know what you want to say. What we've all been trained to say. But I don't feel beautiful, and more than anything else beauty is a feeling, don't you agree?

Now before you get all eye-roll-y on me, know that I am grateful I underwent treatment. Know that I know that this is temporary, that there are things far more important than how I look. Then tuck your hair back behind your ears and keep reading...

This is who people said I looked like before treatment: Winnie Cooper, Ashley Judd (back when she had a rounder face), Jeanne Tripplehorn, a Gremlin, Selma Ward, Debra Messing (and no, I do not approve of all of these comparisons). I was not beautiful, didn't turn heads for the right or the wrong reasons which was fine by me, but I did have fabulous hair.

This is who people say I look like now: Caillou, GI Jane, Sinead O'Conner, a Little People toy with the hair snapped off, Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Powder, a walking penis. Okay, no one said I look like a walking penis, but I think I do, i.e. beauty being a feeling and all that. So fine, I feel like a walking penis.

What is consistent with the after is that all of them are bald. Because that's what people see when they look at me now. Not woman, not normal, certainly not beautiful, but bald. And probably cancer, if they don't know my story. People look at me and see sick. It's hard to walk around a billboard for sick because like any billboard I get attention. People look, kids stare, and it's fine, really it is. Except it also kind of isn't.
So far I've only seen family, one good friend, and I ran into the mom of an old friend in Target. But soon I'm going to have to get over it and myself, see more people, all of my friends. And if this heat wave keeps up, I'm going to have to do it without wearing a beanie, because holy sweat balls running down my big bald head, people! The struggle is real. 

Oh, how I wish I didn't care. That I didn't feel self-conscious and don't look at me, but I do. It's part of the process, I guess, a phrase that makes me hate the process even more. See also: it is what it is, baby steps, inch by inch, although my hair won't start growing for a few months because of the chemo, and the average rate of hair growth is 0.5 inches/month, or 6 inches/year, so it's more like 0.5inch by 0.5 inch, not quite as catchy. By autumn I should be rocking a mean Rachel Maddow. So there's that. 

But there is also this. At night I like to bend my head down so Ozzy can pet me, his hands sticky on my scalp or my scalp sticky on his hands, not sure which, it is that intimate. He thinks it's funny, and maybe it is. It probably is. It is.



Mr. X said...

You know what's beautiful?


I would be willing to bet that the only person who REALLY cares what you look like is you.

Sure, you look "different" than you did before, but that comparison only applies to people who've seen you before the haircut.

Today, if you met someone for the first time, short hair would be your "normal." If you then saw them a year later, after your hair has grown, they would then think you look "different."

As they say in Arkansas, it's all relative.

Who knows? Perhaps you will decide to continue shaving your head. It does have certain advantages. I would like to have that option, but I'm stuck with no hair.

To me, bald is neither beautiful nor anything else. Bald just is.

In my opinion (which, along with everyone else's, doesn't really matter), it's your intellect, humor, and smart-assedness that make you attractive. Your having more or less hair is inconsequential.


Mr. X

Petunia Face said...

You're right Mr. X--the only person who really cares is me, but I do care, so there it is. And it's hard not to care.

And for what it's worth, I have a few men in my life that are bald and are sexy as hell, but that's a little different. I'm bald bald, chemo bald, little eyelashes and eyebrows.

I wish I was sexy, but you're also right about confidence, and right now I also don't have a lot of that. Work in progress...


DutchGirlChronicle said...

Your new mantra, "I am sexy and sleek and aerodynamic and people like me." Channel your inner Stuart Smalley: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DIETlxquzY

You have inspired me to start a blog. I have read your blog for years and although I lack your pizazz, I decided to take the plunge. Thank you for taking us with you on your journey. I feel vested in you. Please visit me sometime: DutchGirlChronicle.com
Hugs from Minnesota

Anonymous said...

Today, I know a little bit how you feel - I got a bad haircut!!! Way too short and way too thinned out and I don't have thick hair to begin with *sigh*....
Tomorrow I'll have to pay extra attention to make-up, dress in my best dress and fake it so I can face everyone saying "what happened to your long nice hair?"
We only realize how important our hair is, when it's gone - well not all the way in my case, but it might as well. I've started looking at Raquel Welch wigs! She went to the same high school as my daughter does, I guess there is some bonding here.
What I am trying to say, Susannah: put on some make-up, some sexy boots and fake it! My hair grows fast, I don't do 0.5 inches/month. Take some biotin, that helps.

Mr. X said...

Dear Susannah,

I hope you will please forgive my former comment. My hope was that you might think "Hell yeah, who gives a damn what others think?!?"

But, in reading my comment again, it seems a bit preachy. That's certainly not what I had intended -- nor is it what you need. I apologize.

I do understand what you mean about the differences between men and women, when it comes to not having hair. There is a difference, albeit one manufactured by our society. Still, it exists.

Why can't we just all be Coneheads?

As I alluded in my last comment-gone-awry, I do think you're sexy. However, I understand there's a difference in what others THINK and what you FEEL.

It's too bad all your readers can't give you a transplant of our admiration. If you could see yourself through our eyes, your immune system would surely get a big boost!

Wishing you the best, always.


Mr. X

Petunia Face said...

Mr. X, no worries! I didn't take it as too preachy, promise. I took it as loving and supportive. Hope my comment back didn't come off as defensive. (Nothing like a defensive bald girl ;))
I adore your comments, as always.

And Anon and DutchGirlChronicle--thank you thank you a thousand times.


Anonymous said...

Oh my lands woman, you can turn a word! My laughs can be heard cross the house. My hair is my , crown and glory, so I get it. I would feel, exactly the same way as you. At the same time, I couldn't help but think, don't curse the darkness, light a match. How is the turban hunt going? Your bones and eyes are beautiful too.

Nancy Fastenau said...

You said it all. It is what it is and it will be what it will be. I just know you'll get where you want to be again. In the meantime, have good head rubs.

mumsy said...

Susanah, thank you for being so ballsy AND talented to take us along on your journey to thrive. You've shared your gut clenching emotions and wacky mind chatter in a way that makes polite conversation so blah! I love reading your blog, even when it leaves me stunned in my seat. Thank you and please carry on. BTW, how to you feel when you hit "publish"?

Met said...

Slow clap for Mr. X...

He's right.

I just gave my beaten down, newly divorced brother-in-law the same advice: confidence is sexy. Get your swagger back, and you'll be fine.

Roundabout way of saying: you are stunning. Before, during, after. I know that strangers' (and even real-life friends and family!) feedback is a sort of temporary reassurance, but don't forget: we are ALWAYS harder on ourselves than we need to be. You know this, I know.

And don't forget: every single day, your hair grows back a tiny bit. So every single day, you're one step closer to how the old you looked. And combine that with the new you that's lived the lives and learned the lessons of 100 people? I mean, seriously. Who can reckon with THAT?!