Like many women, I've shaved my head during lockdown – and it feels empowering

Robyn Vinter
Robyn Vinter's new look
Robyn Vinter's new look
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Like many women, I’ve always had a difficult relationship with my hair.

Having hair of a dark mousy colour — both thin and frizzy at the same time, bushy and yet somehow limp — I’ve struggled to work out what to do with it. I’ve experimented a lot and never found “my” hair. Some people are perpetually long-haired or always brunette but I’ve never felt like I really got it right.

I now have what they call a 'lockdown buzzcut' — a trend that's emerged on social media in recent days, with women reaching for the clippers while in isolation. The Instagram hashtag girlswithshavedheads currently has over 200,000 posts, with the more recent showing examples of lockdown buzzcuts.

Of course, black women and non-gender conforming women have been doing this forever, without anyone paying particular attention to them. I'm sure a lot of the women who have been shaving their heads for decades are rolling their eyes that it's taken a few weeks without a hairdresser to push some of us less-courageous women into it.

Though I have spent nearly 15 years thinking I’d like to shave my head at some point, I never thought I’d actually do it. The fact I probably won’t see anyone I know over the next few weeks has ultimately been the decider. Lockdown is a window of opportunity, a chance to do things we wouldn’t normally do.

Robyn Vinter says she never found her 'true' hair when it was long
Robyn Vinter says she never found her 'true' hair when it was long

So if there was ever a time to have an extreme haircut, it’s now, when there are no colleagues to gasp or family members to ridicule if it all goes wrong.

My partner, who regularly shaves his head (ironically much to my distaste — though I probably am allowed less of an opinion on that now), was my hairdresser. I started by making a couple of ponytails and chopping them with scissors. He then took to my head with clippers. I’m not sure what grade I went for because I chose the length by sight. It's about half a centimetre in length, and the same length all over.

I know there’s an element of privilege in choosing to give it the chop. There are many women who lose their hair against their wishes and I’d never want to belittle the profound grief people can experience when that choice is taken away.

However, making the decision was empowering. Seeing chunks of hair fall on my shoulders and then drop away onto the bathroom floor was thrilling. I was half-expecting to feel instant regret but, when I saw my new look start to take shape in the mirror, it didn’t seem daring or severe at all, it just looked different.

I didn’t particularly care if I looked feminine, though I somehow still do. Admittedly, I do have quite a feminine face with a gentle brow and a soft jawline, and I wear dark eye makeup, so I know those things play a part, but I also think extremely short hair isn’t necessarily masculine at all.

My lockdown buzzcut has been considerably more freeing than I thought. It’s halved the length of my showers and given me 20 minutes in the morning that I used to spend drying and styling my hair.

It’s not all positives though — I now wear hats indoors because my head gets cold quicker. And the reaction has been somewhat unexpected.

I’ve been out in public twice since I shaved my head and so far I’ve noticed that there’s definitely a feeling that it’s unusual. I feel like some people give me a wide berth or even a judgemental look – although I suppose we're all a bit wary of each other at the minute.

Friends have sent me Britney Spears memes or joked that it was too early in lockdown to go crazy. I've also had some flattering comparisons to Sigourney Weaver, Karen Gillan and Natalie Portman. Amazingly, and much to my surprise, a picture I tweeted has had more than 2,000 likes and hundreds of lovely comments from friends and strangers. I was expecting some variations of “LOL you look like a lad I play football with”. Incredibly, I haven’t seen a single one.

I’d urge anyone who is even tentatively thinking about it to give the lockdown buzzcut a go. After all, they always say you regret the things you don’t do.

But, if it does end up being a big mistake, in the words of one of my less-enamoured friends: it’ll grow back.

Robyn Vinter is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Overtake