Hearing Loss Treatment and Medicare
INTERESTING STUFF – 17 September 2016

Crabby Old Lady Contemplates Shaving Her Head

A more serious post was planned for today but a story about a generation of young women shaving their heads grabbed Crabby Old Lady's attention and it's been too long since she appeared in these pages.

The New York Times which, keep in mind, is frequently behind the curve in regard to youth culture, reports that there may be a fad of young women shaving their heads – as a fashion statement:

“'I’ve definitely noticed this trend on the streets recently,' said Andrea Donoghue, who owns Laurel, a private studio in the East Village. 'I think it’s a trickle down from what’s been happening in fashion lately.'

“'A client of mine recently came in with a picture of [model] Ruth [Bell] from a Zara campaign,' Ms. Donoghue recalled.”

Reading that, Crabby flashed on her hair cut last week when she told the stylist, an old friend by now, that she not infrequently thinks about shaving off all her hair. It would be so much easier.

As many of you know from past stories here, Crabby was deeply vexed when her hair had become so thin at the crown and front that pink scalp shows through the few wisps that remain. So two or three years ago after weighing several possible solutions, she began always wearing a hat when she leaves the house.

She has a large collection of winter, summer, big, small, smart, beautiful and silly hats now hanging on a wall, including this new addition she bought for an upcoming Halloween party:

Halloween Hat

Isn't it a terrific witch hat? What you can't see are the spiders crawling about on the netting. (Yeah, Crabby knows it's good for only one day a year but what the hell. It didn't cost much and YOLO, as those shaved-headed young women probably say.)

It was nearly eight years ago that Crabby Old Lady first wrote here about going bald and after listing the options (none of which Crabby liked), noted:

”Embracing baldness by shaving her head is a choice Crabby half-seriously considered but it works best on an attractively-shaped head and Crabby has no idea if hers is a pleasingly contoured.

“Besides,” Crabby continued eight years ago, “with every public encounter, it calls attention for a wrong reason, especially on an old woman. The thought of explaining herself to any fool who asks – and many would - makes Crabby tired already.”

But now, Crabby has moved from “half-seriously” considering shaving her head to seriously thinking about it.

The first time Crabby saw a deliberately bald woman was back in the 1970s, model Grace Jones, and she was stunning. Of course, unlike Crabby, she was born with an especially lovely face and beautifully shaped head.

Here she is in her bald look along with some other well-known women who have shaved their heads - left to right, Grace, Demi Moore, Tyra Banks and Cynthia Nixon. After the first bit of shock, they all look great.


One of the young women in The Times story about the head shaving fad, 22-year-old Alana Derksen, said she had wanted to shave her head for a long time:

”...but refrained out of fear of how her 'conservative' family would react. Then, late one night last summer during a tense trip home, she finally gave in to the impulse, cutting off her hair in her parents’ bathroom and using a Bic razor to finish the job.

“Now, she said, she’s so used to her bald head, which she maintains with electric clippers, she has nightmares about her hair growing back. Even her parents have come around on the shorn ’do.:

Self image comes into it for Crabby only when thinking about how others would react. She doesn't want having a bald head to be the first thing people think about her. Someone asks, “Who is Crabby Old Lady?” “Oh, you know, the one who flaunts her shaved head.”

There is a whole lot of discussion in that Times story about whether the phenomenon of young women shaving their heads is a cultural response to expanding gender identifications. Crabby will leave that debate to them; her concerns are more prosaic.

First, as Crabby mentioned eight years ago, she is not sure she wants to be known for shaving her head. And for sure, she does not want to be thought of as trying to emulate women young enough to be her great granddaughters.

On the other hand, it would lift a small burden from her life to not think about thinning hair and hats anymore - as much fun as the hats are – or to blow dry what's left of her hair every other day. And, anyway, Crabby could still wear hats on her shaved head.

Which leaves this remaining question: Is the shape of Crabby's head reasonably nice looking? And that can be answered only one way - trust Crabby, plastering wet hair down on your head doesn't do it.

Crabby Old Lady is pretty certain this is just silliness for a Friday post after a week of serious issues. But then again, maybe not.


Love it, Ronni!

Two words of warning -
1 - Instead of looks admiring your fashion savvy, you may instead receive ones of compassion by those who have decided that you're battling cancer.
2 - When my husband's hair came out due to chemo, I discovered why his hair had always been so wavy. His skull is as rippled as a washboard, crown to nape - it was his head causing all those waves! :o)

I am not so sure. I am thinking people would look at me and think cancer--poor thing.

On the other hand-- if one is really unhappy with one's hair ---I am not there yet--
why not shave one's head?

And if it doesn't work -- buy a wig and/or wear hats.

What is there to lose?

The Halloween hat is lovely and looks like fun!

As tired as I get with thinking about and dealing with hair, I don't think a shaved head is for me. Only the skulls look good that way and I'm afraid mine is far from perfect. Also, as we get older, shaved heads often leave women looking more like Roman emperors. I may eventually just go with a very short, but not bald, look, and will still probably look like a Roman emperor.

I've been thinking more about scarves lately. During a recent visit to the DMV, I saw a woman probably about my age -- mid 60's -- whose hair was in two long braids, and the rest of her head was covered with a babushka. I could hear her conversation with the younger woman sitting next to her, in which the older one said she had gotten tired of dealing with her hair and this was so much easier. The only problem she mentioned was needing to use a mirror when doing the braiding. We spend way too much time, worry and money on our heads and it would be nice not to have to think about it.

As a male who is the proud owner of a mostly bald head (nothing on top, good sides), I have often thought of going completely "El Baldo.".
But I too, was not sure of how I would look.
Is my head the right shape?
Are there any funny knobs, wrinkles or bumps under there?
Should I consult my phrenologist before or after I shave?
Fortunately, as a male, I have the option of having my hair cut really short which gives me some idea of what I would look like if I shaved it all off.

I'm pretty sure my head is NOT gorgeously shaped and furthermore probably has the same assortment of moles and whatevers that the rest of my body has grown. It would definitely not be attractive. Most folks I know who have bought wigs because of thinning hair have given them up after awhile. Too hot.

My first thought when I read this was the same one others mentioned: that people would think you're having chemo. Then I thought about the current trend of twenty- and thirty-somethings paying big bucks to go gray, which just makes me laugh.

I'd say "go for it" except for having to keep shaving the back of your head. I think I'd cut myself if I tried that.

Ronni, I shaved my head about twenty years ago when I was sixty. It was a very hot summer and we were doing a lot of painting and repair work at the community house where I then lived. I kept it shaved all summer and loved it. So easy and comfortable. When I got sweaty I could just run a wash rag over my head. I did grow it back after about six months as I hate wearing hats, and it was too cold in the winter. But you love hats, so I say, "Go for it!" If you find you don't like it for whatever reason, it does grow back.

It looks like no one has commented yet ~~ the words I usually hear when I talk about a drastic hair cut ~~ "It will always grow back".

I am in the same boat as you, very old thin and thinning hair. I wonder often, out loud with an audience around me, do I dare even let someone take clippers and go over my scalp, leaving me (hopefully) with a short "cover" ? I envision a sort of flat brush cut. Maybe poof it a bit ?

Startling ? Shocking ? Fun (why not ?) and surely a conversation point.......

What say you ?

As I've said so often here & will repeat: the world is mad. Are we so bored that we have to do such nutty things!? My hair is thin as well @ 79 years old so I don't much care about looking better in the hair department so I wear it very, very short, only shampoo lightly 2 times a week........no curling iron, just a very young male hair stylist who understands how I feel........rather as yours does ,Ronni, if I recall correctly. With a small round brush & small travel hair dryer I am to go in about 10 minutes. And as far as I'm concerned, it looks fine & I only need a hat in the winter. Dee:)

I'd probably need to do it in stages -- having it cut shorter and shorter until I either say, "Basta!" and stop, or shave it. Besides hats and scarves, I'm also for distinctive earrings to dress up a head.

With chemo last summer, a shaved (actually clipped to 1/4 inch, #2 setting on clipper, kind of a nice peach fuzz effect) head was inevitable. Turned out my head is nicely shaped, but with all the facial wrinkles, extra chins, and no makeup, it was far from my best look. I wore bandanas or caps all the time (also not a great look). Still, the convenience was amazing! I sooo envy men! Growing it back was a trying time, even for someone used to wearing very short hair. One side and the back came in curly; the top and other side were straight. For several months there was simply no controlling it. It was last July (2015) when I clipped it off, and January before I had enough to go to a hairdresser and try to get it "neatened" up a bit. As long as it takes to grow back, even to a really short pixie, I wouldn't do it again.

What I read from the comments is that we all have been taught to believe what is normal, right and expected. Why are men lucky? Why can men only get away with shaved heads? We are taught by society that this is so.
I say.....break free and make your own decisions about what is normal. Normal for you. If you do have a bumpy head, so be it. It is your wonderful glorious head. Embrace it, cherish it and celebrate the bumps.
Please stop following the herds.

I have avoided one of the unpleasant things that accompany aging and that is thin hair. Lord knows I have had to endure all the rest of the signs of growing old so I think I am entitled to this one blessing.

I always had a thick head of hair and, although I am sure it's thinner now than it was when I was a young woman, there is still plenty of it left so my scalp is well hidden. It was always, and still is, my best feature so I would never contemplate shaving it off.

Now if I could remove those ugly brown spots that magically appear in strange places on my skin, I would joyfully do so.

I, too, read that NYT story and contemplated a shave. However, I have that wrinkles-and-triple-chin problem. . . . Don't know if I have the guts. I DO like not having had to shave my legs and underarms for a couple of decades.

My hair is thinning, although it always has been thin at the front. I have looked around me and noticed other women with thinning hair and who move with confidence. My own personal opinion is that short hair works well on most women with thin hair, just as with men. The "comb-over" is usually obvious and even distracting at times, especially on windy days. I dislike wearing hats or a scarf, except to keep my head warm in winter. I spend a lot of time outdoors, so I need something that doesn't require much attention. So short and shorter it is, depending on the time of year and what events are coming up. Earrings add a bit to the look.

I'm lucky enough to have semi-curly hair, now ear length, which I just let air dry, but when I was in my mid-20's, after having had very short hair for a while, I , on a dare, had it all shaved off. I loved the way it looked then, but doubt I would be happy with it now.

As I begin closing in on 80 (January '17) my hair has thinned somewhat but I'm not totally bald at the crown yet. I've worn a medium to short pixie for about a year and have really enjoyed the convenience. When it's short I don't even have to style it, although I may look a little better with a slightly longer version. I'm told that I have a "nicely" shaped head, but the deciding factor for me is not having to spend 20-30 minutes styling my hair every day.

Oh, oh, oh, does this piece ever speak to me! I have had those very thoughts. Shave? Make shorter? make longer? Shoot myself? (Kidding.) And it's gotten much worse just recently in the last six months. (I turned 79 in August.) The thing about shaving is, those pix you posted are all of beautiful *young* women. A 79-year-old bald woman does not look like a 25-year-old bald model. I'm not worried about the shape of my head (though perhaps I should be). But here's what I'm currently doing:

- growing out a shorter pixie cut, because while a spike or two on top might be useful, getting rid of layers on the sides simply means less hair on the sides, which looks . . . thinner;

- giving a shot (on dermatological advice) to Rogaine (and you can get generic monoxidil for less money)--it's a pain putting it on and then trying to comb it, since it has some texture, but if it grows hair on my head? worth it;

- using Caboki. I really think this stuff is very useful. Yes, that is a brand name. Go online and have a look at their videos, it's fairly remarkable. It's a plant-fiber that looks like a powder, and you just shake it onto the visible scalp, in the color closest to yours, and it does a damn good job of disguising the scalp. I'm sure the stuff comes in different brands, that's just the one I'm using.

I do think that the thin hair is a case of "spared nothing"--I'm trying to be grateful for the things I do have left. But this one's really hard. :-(

As I reported three years ago about Rogaine:

"...two-percent Rogaine (minoxidil) for women is the only FDA-approved hair loss drug in the United States. It comes in liquid or foam and must be applied twice a day producing only minimal regrowth in about 20 percent of women. But you won't know if you are in that minority for about six months of use. If you are, any improvement will be lost if you ever stop using Rogaine."

More Information at that blog post from 2013.

If you do this once, you'll know in short order if it will be a permanent look for you. Your hair will grow out, and you can let it do, or you shave again--your choice.

I do think you will have to field concerned questions about chemo though, after your first shave.

You could always have it cut really short.

I agree about earrings! With a shaved head, you should wear big ones, or at least noticeable ones. That's a good look.

Dee and I might be related. I do exactly what she does with her hair.

I keep it short on purpose.

But one woman walked up to me and asked "when was your last treatment?"

Holy cr@p!

Just re-read all the comments.

10/10 Susan Turner.

Yes, since you are not young, what your friends will see is a cancer patient. Just get it cut really short instead.

Boy, can I relate to this and to many of the comments! So tired of worrying about hair! Mine isn't too thin (yet) so I'm trying to grow it out so it can just be twisted up or braided, to avoid styling and hairdresser visits. But what a pain it is enduring the growing out! I'm about to try knitting some wide-ish headbands to help keep it out of my face. Which makes me think, Ronni, how about very short hair and using wide bands, scarfs or hats only as desired? I couldn't do shaved, myself -- I don't even like my ears exposed, as they get cold!

P. S. Love the witch hat!

I always had baby-fine hair, which started going white at the front when I was in my mid-thirties. Now it's become rather sparse, it's nearly all white, and I've been having no luck figuring out what to do with it. To make matters worse, the ends split easily into frizz, so my default look is kind of 'Albert Einstein' crossed with 'frail little old lady'.

Short hair works, sort of, except it involves frequent visits to a hairdresser. And my husband says he likes my hair longer. Against my better judgement I let my hair grow out from a pixie cut through the inevitable "I hate my hair" length, until now I have a very slender lock curling down past my shoulders on each side. Which is sort of okay, until the slightest breath of wind hits, and then it's back to Einstein-level frizz, except longer. Bah.

I used to twist my hair at the nape of my neck, but there are no clips small enough to hold what I have now. Stylish wigs and hats cost money. I don't think I would have the nerve to shave it. Besides, the top of my head is oddly flat, no need to accentuate that. I've been tempted to color a temporary streak with some neon-colored hair chalk, just to break out of the little old lady pattern... I might try that for Halloween, see how I like it.

On the subway I see a lot of women wearing gorgeous scarves. Maybe that's the answer, at least in cold weather.

How will one know what works without experimenting? I agree that the world at large with think you are going through chemo, but that's no reason not to give it a go unless that would bother you. You may also find you are not free from hats: a friend who did lose her hair through chemo found that she was always cold until it grew back, so always wore some sort of head covering for warmth. But I can totally relate to the impetus. I let my hair go gray a few years ago because I couldn't be bothered with the every 3 week coloring that would have been required to avoid a skunk stripe of gray roots. Recently I've gotten the shortest haircut I've ever had, and I love the ease of washing it now. Both have been liberating. But I have friends who swear they'll color their hair until they die. Everyone's got to find what works for them, and, as others have said, if it doesn't work, it'll grow back.

The only way to find out how shaving your head will look is to just do it! I have a very short Afro-style haircut right now and love it. When I think back on all of the nights spent sleeping in curlers or drying my hair in those huge hoods, I love my short hair even more.

I've always had lots of hair— fine and wispy. As I get older (77), I have no patience to fuss with it, so now I get a perm (remember them?) and have it cut short. I'm still in that never-never land between mousy brown and grey. But mousy or not, I think I'll keep it. No shaved head for me!

I have had Alopecia for 20 years with my hair falling out and growing back in strange patterns. Last month I finally shaved my head, now at 63 I couldn't be happier. For the first time since the disease began, I am the one in charge--not it. I love it! I say for go for it--it is so liberating. Judy

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)