I’ll Shave This for Later
TLDR: Cancer sucks and I want to be a monk
For those that are willing to bear with me and this long post, I wanted to make a powerful statement with my hair and the purposeful choice to sacrifice my hair for a variety of reasons, then gift it to the land so my prayers can be heard.
The first being that, for years, I have been asked by my ancestors to join a monastary. I had no idea what this looked like because I didn’t know much about Thailand and Thai culture until I started researching it as an adult. I ran into a lot of conflicting information, which led me to believe that women couldn’t join a monastary. After being in Thailand in April of this year, I found out there are certain monastaries that allow it! The women monks are just called different names. Since the dead listen to action instead of empty spoken promises, I chose to shave my head as a promise to my ancestors that I will find my way to a monastary and become a female monk. Of course I have to learn Thai and become intimately familiar with Thai Buddhist practices. It might take years, but I’m going to make this happen.
Another reason why I’m shaving my head is for cancer awareness. Some of the most lovely people in my life have had cancer and it has really impacted me lately. I have countless friends and relatives struggle with their cancer diagnosis, and I am happy to report that a majority have pulled through chemo. Cancer is one of those really Not-Fair things that happens in life. So I chose to shave my head in solidarity with them back in May of this year. To share the burden of that pain, and to help them know they’re not alone.
My dear and beloved friend Mati Vargas-Gibson had been diagnosed with late stage cancer and didn’t have the opportunity to be given the choice of chemo. She passed away in February and was such a beautiful person. Her passing moved me so much. Just a few weeks before she went, she literally messaged me and said we should have a chat. I said sure, I would love that. Both of us not knowing she had cancer at the time. You never know when people are going to go, so don’t miss your chance to catch up with loved ones.
Hair is power. In many indigenous cultures, they view that your hair holds your power. It’s one of the reasons why some cultures (such as the Lakota or Seminole) only cut their hair to show their grief for a loved one passing away. I shaved my head for all these reasons above, but also as a statement. It can be hard for people that either have cancer or alopecia to show up comfortably in a world that cares so much about how people look. Many wear wigs or hats to cover up the effects of chemotherapy or the gradual loss of their hairs ability to grow. Sometimes it’s easier to “dress up and play the part” instead of attracting attention to yourself by showing up as you are. My choice to shave my head and show up as I am is to help shift this narrative that no matter how you show up is beautiful, even if it’s not accepted or judged by many in society. I have the luxury of growing my hair back. Some people don’t. I often choose to cover up my tattoos and wear T-Shirts and long pants because there are times when I am tired of the questions or the stares that I get from people. My tattoos are sacred to me, and are meant just for me, just like how attractive women dress down when they don’t feel like they want the attention. When I feel confident about myself, and have the energy to deal with questions, then I will wear a tank top with shorts. Or… post pictures of myself on social media
My prayer with this act of vulnerability by sharing this post is to bring attention to the fact that not everyone has the privilege to show up as they are, either due to illness, out of politeness or maybe because it’s not safe. My prayer is that we stop judging people based on how they look, and instead embrace each other as humans with very real hearts. My prayer is that we can find a way to normalize looking like how we feel inside and be accepted just the way we are without question. My prayer is that I find the discipline needed within myself to have the heart and compassion big enough to anchor this awareness personally, and dedicate it to those who are coming. May our children not have the burden of being judged, and be invited into a loving world that is accepting of a person no matter how they show up.
And a big thank you to Coriander Woodruff with Coriander Focus Photography for being able to capture this epic moment of ceremony!