I’ve held a lot of pride in my image over the past few years, it’s the first thing people see when you meet them and after years of extremely low self-esteem, I’ve managed to build myself up to a place where I’m happy with myself.
I wasn’t the pretty kid dressed in nice clothes, admired by other girls, I was severely bullied for years and it took a huge toll on my soul. Nothing though, took quite the soul destroying toll as what happened to me when I was 12 years old.
This will be a defining moment for me, and I have chosen to share this story as part of the statement I’m making to myself. The full story will also feature in my book when it’s published.
12 Years Old
‘I’m going to give you a haircut!’
‘But I don’t want a haircut!’ I exclaimed over the phone.
‘You’re going to whether you like it or not!’
My hair was long, almost to the bottom of my waist and extremely thick. I hid from my mum for hours, I could hear her searching through the house, calling my name telling me it was going to happen one way or another. I was hiding in the bathroom, I found a cupboard with enough room to hide in, enough room to crouch down and stay hidden. I though if I stayed here long enough, she would give up and I wouldn’t have to go and have my hair cut, I shouldn’t say cut, no scissors were involved in my haircut. Eventually I gave in and went out.
‘Why do you have to shave it off?’ I pleaded, hoping there was another way to resolve the issue I had. There was a reoccurring issue of nits and I was one of the lucky kids whose parents had better things to do than to treat my hair to get rid of the problem. This wasn’t the first attempt to bring my hair under control, though it was probably only the 2nd. I had a friend, my very first best friend who sat behind me for hours going through my hair trying to get rid of the bugs and eggs. You couldn’t get a normal nit comb through my hair because it was so thick, so she sat and went through strand by strand, an act of kindness I’ll never forget. It didn’t work, I still had the problem and my mum’s only solution was to shave my hair.
‘I’ll leave some of your hair at the back so it’s not all shaved off.’ She calmly stated.
‘Can’t you give me an undercut instead?’ Please, PLEASE, can you give me an undercut?’ I was begging.
‘No, end of story.’
While I sat there on the seat in the bathroom of my mums’ boyfriends’ house, she got the clippers ready and I started to cry. She got a small round mirror and put it in front of me and pointed to behind my ear.
‘I’m going to shave it to here, and leave the rest of your hair.’
Why did she even bother to tell me, I was distraught and she knew it, yet continued the torture. I cried more and I didn’t stop the whole time the little black and silver machine buzzed over my head with my eyes closed. With every piece of my hair falling away, a peace of me went with it. I cried until she turned the machine off when she asked me if I wanted to look at it in the mirror. I shook my head, I was horrified, I knew it was going to look horrible and I did not want to see it.
I sat on the chair in the bathroom with the mirror in front of me. Did I want to see what it looked like? Did I want to know what I was going to look like at age 12, 6 months before high school with effectively what you would call a mullet? No I didn’t! But the mirror was there and I just couldn’t help myself, I opened my eyes, and glanced into the mirror in front of me. My head was turned slightly and for the briefest moment I seen my haircut, short all over except for the long hair going down my back from behind my ears. I pushed the mirror away and burst into tears all over again.
I would never be the same again.
Next Obstacle – School!
School was a huge issue, kids already had enough to pick on me for decidedly, I knew this was going to be yet just another to add to the list, this by far the worst ever. I came up with a plan, (not a very good one I quickly found out) I found a beanie, tucked up my hair and went to school. Thinking I could evade questions with my attempted indifference to the odd fact of wearing a beanie when it wasn’t cold was clearly a silly thing to think, looking back though, the questions the other kids had for me that day, clearly word had already gotten around.
It was a Wednesday – Dodgeball day…
The whole school of approximately 50 kids all in a hall. The teachers started by throwing soft foam balls, if it hit your legs, you’re out and had to get the rest of the kids out. I was pretty good at this game, it was strategic. There was only a few of us left, I was running down the left side of the hall away from where the balls were. As I ran past one of the girls in my class who promptly pulled off my beanie, the whole hall stopped and gasped. ‘You fu*king BITCH’ I screamed and ran out of the hall back to the school, tears streaming out of my eyes. I promptly swore at the principal too, nobody understood how it felt, this was one of the worst days of my life. Now everybody had seen my haircut, there was no more hiding it.
I still wore the beanie, it didn’t protect me though. As soon as recess and lunch came around, I ran straight to the girls toilets to hide. Small groups stood at the door and called out to me ‘Kayleen, come out and show us your hair cut.’ I could hear them whispering, ‘We won’t laugh, we promise, we just want to see what it looks like.’ Eventually I came out, trusting, looking at a couple of girls and boys, waiting patiently for me to show them. ‘You’ll just laugh at me, I know you will.’ ‘We won’t, we promise.’ Slowly I slid off my beanie and felt my hair fall down. They all burst out laughing and then ran off. This is what my life would be like for months to come, constantly being ridiculed and ashamed of how I looked.
I looked into the mirror, a boy looked back, even worse though, my reflection reminded me of someone and I didn’t like him one little bit.
I didn’t know who I was anymore, so much of me was gone!
I was taunted by kids and adults, one adult, in particular, broke me even further after an incident on school camp, I thought adults were supposed to care. I cannot describe exactly what these constant little reminders of how horrible I looked did to my soul, but it was chipping away at the little girl inside, it ruined a part of me deep inside which I felt could never be mended.
I did get many sneering stares in High School, some sniggers and smirks, not like primary school, I still felt ashamed daily.
A Girl Again
A few months later my hair was long enough and my mum agreed to let me get it cut. Visiting the local hairdresser I asked her to cut it off. She cut some style to my hair once the back length was gone. When she cut that final strand of hair from the back, it was like cutting off the last representation which made me feel like a boy, now detached from me, where it would stay. Such a weight lifted off my shoulders. It made a world of difference to my face and my spirit, I was a girl again.
The Pain Runs Deep
Those few months were some of the worst of my whole life and while I can talk about it, it’s not something I can tolerate being joked about. I have come to love my hair colour and to this day it still holds such a part of my identity, I can’t bear to come to terms with cutting it short.
I am attached to my hair, long hair for me means never having to feel the way I did, the loss of identity I felt. My long hair is a symbol of retaliation, to protect myself and my identity. I’ve always said “I’ll never cut it short again.” It took me a long time to trust a hairdresser, still having problems, sometimes going nearly a year between haircuts.
However, it’s been on my mind lately to just ‘let it go’, to let go of the attachment and empower myself with a major change and to attempt to rock a short do. I’m ready to let go of the pain and the feelings associated with having ‘short hair’. I’ve worked so hard on myself these past few years, I’m ready to let go, I’m ready to free myself.
So, without further ado,
Welcome to the new me!!
Needless To Say, I Found My New Hairdresser!!
Huge thanks to Gemma from ‘Ninety Eight Organics’, her facebook page is here. Quick facebook search and I landed an absolute Gem (No pun intended).
Marathon effort, 3.5 hours later for the full treatment and a stack of hair and weight off my shoulders later (both physically and emotionally) I absolutely LOVE my new do.
For a bit of fun!!