Shaving my hair off for the camino went way beyond crossing off an item on my bucket list.
I was playing with the idea for a few years but I never thought I’d be brave enough to ever do it until now. When I decided to go on the Camino, I thought that would be the best time to experiment with being bald.
As my flight to Madrid was closer and closer, I felt an urge to do it. But same time I thought, Nah, maybe it’s not for me. The day before my flight, I told my sister to grab her boyfriend’s razor and chop it off, because I was in the vibe and knew that if I let it slip away I will never get it done.
I had been going through a rough patch in the past few years and I decided that it was time. I was always curious how it feels and how my head looks, and I also wanted to do this as part of a cleanse. I keep reading articles about how our hair stores memories, it was perfect to align this cleanse with my walk on the Camino. I also thought this would help me to focus on the hike and make my life easier as I will not have to care about drying my hair or carrying extra items such as shampoo and hair comb. Secretly I wished it would be good for my ego and my confidence. Like a reset. I used my ginger, waist-length hair way too much to hide behind like a metaphorical shield, or to appear in certain ways to portray or hide the real me like a shell. We tend to cling to our looks way too much. Now I wanted only the most raw version of me.
Frankly, we did the whole process in different parts, as I was really scared of what will I feel and see in the mirror. As I put the clippers to my scalp above my left ear I stated to shake—but I was also excited. As I shaved off the first piece of hair I felt a small sense of relief. So I shaved off the whole left side of my head. And I loved it! I almost left it like that but I decided to go further. I felt powerful and brave.
My sister helped me to part my hair and I shaved off all the hair on the right side of my skull as well. We made a braid and I felt empowered, looking like a badass Viking warrior woman. But something whispered in me to go on. I chopped off all the remaining hair with the help of my sister to fix the parts I could not reach.
I was surprised that I did not shed a tear. I imagined I would cry and regret it or even feel ugly. Instead, I felt strong, powerful, fresh and actually beautiful. My head was light and I felt like finally the true beauty of myself came to the surface. There was nothing else but me.
I was amazed at my own reflection, and immediately took a selfie.
There were times on the Camino when I was glad I chopped my hair off because it was so hot. Often I felt so empowered like a G.I. Jane, like I’m capable of anything—no freaking mountain can stop me on this way. It was also grounding to feel the fresh breeze running through my scalp as I reached the mountain top.
I fell in love with the woman who was hiding behind all that hair. I feel like a completely different person. I feel like I can be whoever I am, living unapologetically, full of purpose and possibilities.
And how is it for others?
I met so many people on the Camino who commented on my buzz cut how much they like it. They said I look like a cool monk woman or that it’s good to see my strong fierce personality shining through. There were men who were totally into it, women who got empowered by it; and many people wanted to pet my head which resulted in funny memories.
There were also many people who thought I was walking the Camino because I had cancer or thought that I was lesbian, but this all led to interesting conversations and realizations in both parties.
Cliché but I agree that every woman should shave their head at least once in their life because it’s so liberating. After all, it’s just hair and it will grow back.
My only question is: Why I didn’t do it sooner?
Get more like this—Sign up for our daily inspirational newsletter for exclusive content!
Photo: Imola Toth