The length and style of your hair often determines how you remember an important event or time in your life. When you see a picture of yourself from the past, the most distinguishing feature of you, aside from your clothes or glasses, is your hair. If it was long, a guy might recall the rebel days of youth. If it’s really short or shaved, a former military person might be reminded of his/her service days. Finally, if someone’s bald, seeing a picture of him with hair might depress him to no end or delight them if they prefer the Mr. Clean look. As for me, when I think of the time I spent in France, I can’t help but picture myself with long hair. And, when I reminisce about 1999, I can’t help but picture myself with very short or a shaved head.
The style of hair also determines specific time periods in human history. Powdered wigs might not be the fashion statement of today, but back in the colonial times, they were all the rage. Long hair on guys was great in the 70’s, but now it means you’re either a computer programmer or a rock star! Hair sprayed hair was a deadly weapon for females back in the 1980’s and the shaved head became popular when a guy named Mike started shaving regularly to hide his receeding hairline.
For those of us who do have hair, it’s a constant chore to keep it looking good day in day out (unless you just don’t care!). Wake up on the wrong side of the bed (or worse yet, if you showered before you went to sleep), and your hair will look like you’ve been watching Bride of Frankstein one too many times!
My Hair History
This rather long section is dedicated to the various hair styles that I have had throughout my life. I’ve broken them down into three basic categories:
Ready to learn about hair? On y vas!
On Short Hair
Many of the pictures that I have posted on this site were taken when I shaved my head or had really short hair, mainly because that’s when I bought my first camera. For most of my life, however, my hair was a little longer than shaved, but it was most certainly not long. In short, it was normal, short, and conservative hair. When I was a kid, I had the classic Asian bowl cut. In middle and high school, I began parting it to the right or left side (I changed it from time to time). My first year at Stanford, I kept it the same length that I always had in high school.
All that time, however, I wondered what it would be like to shave it all off or grow it long. I remember during my senior year, we went on the West Coast College Trip, visiting places like Stanford, UC Berkeley, and UCLA. A bunch of juniors decided one night to shave their heads and the result was, I must admit, laughable. However cynical I was when I saw them cavorting around with their shaved heads, I was impressed that they had the cajones to cut it all off. I think it was then that the seed was planted for my head shaving exploits. There was another seed that had been planted some time ago, however, the seed of growing long hair.
On Long Hair
I’ve always wanted to grow my hair long, but for whatever reason, I never did so as a kid or when I was in high school. I remember seeing people with long hair and wondering if I could have the dedication to wait, wait, and wait until it was long enough to pull into a pony tail. It wasn’t until I got to Stanford that I made the decision to give long hair a shot. After all, what’s the worst thing that could happen other than the fact that I wouldn’t like it and cut it off?
La première fois
After an eternity with short hair, I decided to fulfill a life-long dream to grow my hair long and become a “rebel”. I began the quest in my sophomore year at Stanford, letting it grow through Winter and Spring quarters. When I arrived in France, it was the longest it’s ever been. I was able to take a strand of hair from the front and pull it all the way down to my chin. For me, that was like, “Wow!”
Alas, it was to be cut. On October 10th, 1995, the day of the another La Grève in Paris, I walked into a hair salon recommended by my host family and had Delphine cut my hair. But, I didn’t chop it all off, leaving it somewhere in between long and short. The result was, in my opinion, a great hair cut! My friend Clara Lu agrees, saying it was the best cut of hair that I’ve had since.
Still, a part of me still regrets cutting it in the first place; if I had kept going, I would have had really long hair by the time I returned to American soil in 1996. But, life isn’t about regrets, but second chances, right?
Second time around
The second time that I had long hair was at the end of my Stanford career. I had it shaved at the end of my junior year at Stanford. Through the summer, it was short and growing, growing through my trips to Boston and to Japan with my friend, John Blake. And boy, did it grow slowly! I am fond of using the quote, “Like a plant, it’s growing, but you can’t see it growing!” By the time I graduated, however, it was well on its way to getting long again. Unfortunately, it was long hair short-lived, as I was compelled to cut it for an important family wedding. After all, I had to be respectful in front of all the relatives! I put up a little fight, but at the end of the day, family duty and honor prevailed, and the locks were chopped off once again.
Third time’s the charm?
At the time of this musing, I’ve only had long hair twice in my life, once in 1995 and again in 1997. After I shaved my head again in April, 2000, I figured that my long hair days were long behind me. A future of shaved heads and/or short hair beckoned until I saw the Mission:Impossible 2 trailer. The hair that Tom Cruise had was absolutely amazing, and I decided to once again heed the call of the long hair gods.
I think the end result will be something similiar to the hair that you see in the picture at the beginning of this musing, long but not too long. They say that the third times the charm, and we’ll see just how true that is sometime at the end of 2000 to 2001.
On No Hair
4/14/2000–00:56. 30 minutes later, the hair is all gone again. I used a 2 Guard this time.
I wrote this in my journal entry on April 14, 2000, the day I reverted back to 1999 form and shaved my head. Hair today, gone tomorrow!
In 1999 and through a good part of 2000, I regularly shaved my head. Although I went to the skin a number of times, I settled on a one or two guard most of the time.
First time all off
When I was selected as the French House Theme Associate during my junior year at Stanford (for senior year), I celebrated in part by shaving my locks completely off. This was the first time that I had shaved my head before and it was quite a shock! I certainly gave my future French House compatriots a scare when they saw me at the Eurotrash party that night; they just didn’t know who they hired, did they now?
I remember being likened to a Chinese monk, especially when I wore my Tai-Chi shirt that I got in Hong Kong in 1994. You see what a difference a particular hairstyle makes? It can turn anyone into a rebel, a monk, a professional, or a “normal” person!
Since that fateful night in 1996, I have shaved my head a number of times. I started again in 1999 and continue the trend of shaving, growing back, and shaving it back through the middle of 2000, when I decided to go back to the long hair route, with a short stop at “normal” hair.
There are a number of benefits to shaving your head. Here are a few:
- Easy maintenance: No need to buy shampoo or comb your hair! Wash and go!
- Feels cool: A shaved head feels almost alien, it’s so cool.
- Attraction: If you like to be the center of attention, having a shaved head will cause everybody to rub your head.
Everyone should at least shave their heads once in their lifetime. It might look strange at first, but it eventually grows on you. Plus, it’s soooo easy to take care of your hair when you don’t have any! Shower right before going to sleep, and you won’t have to worry about waking up with your hair sticking up in all directions!
You shouldn’t be afraid of cutting all of your hair back. After all, it’s going to grow back, you know? Don’t worry about what other people are going to think. It’s what you think that ultimately counts. If you’ve ever considered it, but were too afraid, get over that fear and treat your inner desires to a little gift. Remember, in the immortal words of Garry Grundy, it’s all good!
Don’t take my word for it, there are millions of people out there in the world who are choosing the shaved look by choice. For more information, check out these excellent sites:
- “Bald by choice” search results from Google
- Bald By Choice
- Bald by choice: Forget hair neurosis; these men like it ‘au naturel’
- Yahoo! Clubs baldbychoicemen
Finally, if you are steadily losing your hair, you may want to considering going all the way and shaving it all off. Michael Jordan did that and avoided looking like Clyde the Glide Drexler later in his career. After all, it’s going to go away sooner or later, why not accelerate the process on your terms, instead of the hair’s terms?
Growing it back: the porcupine effect
I will admit that there is downside to shaving your head, but it’s not that bad when you think about it. The worst thing about shaving it all off is waiting for it all to grow back! The next five to six months are going to be hell as your hair takes on a porcupine look before you can start to comb it down. This is the time for having lots of hats and caps, or staying at home all day long! Ultimately, it’s like that in-between stage between longish hair and long hair: a minor inconvenience.
Finally, my suggestion to guys (heck, even girls!) is this: if you haven’t shaved it once in your life, to grab those clippers and cut it all off!
Final Thoughts On Hair
Seriously though, hair is something that preoccupies us for much of our lives; or, if you have male pattern baldness, it’s the lack of hair which probably preoccupies you. Our hair styles helps us to remember the good times, the bad times, and everything in between. A good haircut can do a lot to rising one’s confidence,just as a bad haircut might sink it.
At the end of the day, however, you have to realize that hair is just a collection of dead cells sitting on top of your head. Do what you want to do with it, grow it out, keep it short, or shave it off. Express yourself, have a ball, and don’t be too concerned about it. After all, it’s all good!
Update: December 27, 2000
On December 27, 2000, I got my first haircut by a professional in what I believe was almost two years. I was in San Diego and went to the hairdresser of one of my relatives. I’ve always heard his name throughout the years, but I never met him, until now. Alberto did a great job of keeping up with my picky hair habits, as I showed him pictures of me from my long hair, short hair, and no hair days, in addition to a playing of the Mission:Impossible 2 trailer.
At the time of this update’s writing, I am about to take a trip over to France. It’s been nearly five years since I was last in Europe, which also marked a time when I had rather longish hair. In a sense, it’s as much a return to the past as it is an adventure to a brand new world. My hair’s ready, and now it’s time to finish my packing!
Update: June 16, 2001
I last shaved my head the night of April 13, 2000. It’s been over a year and I can safely say now that my hair is quite long. it’s not quite the length of my hair circa 1995, but it’s getting closer with each passing day. I frequently put the hair in a ponytail and use hairpins to keep the front hair from flopping in front of my face. You see, it’s not quite long enough to be able to pull back completely. Give it a few more months, or years, and I might even try a new hairstyle out: the Chinese monk look! That, however, will take a little more than a few years to grow! Hey, I got the time…
For those of you who want to see my hair grow in near-real time, check out my Year In 60 Seconds web page. I have compiled a list of over 300 daily pictures of myself from April 13, 2000 to April 14, 2001 into a Quicktime movie. You can watch my hair grow like a Chia Pet from nothing to something! It’s strange to see myself with so many different looks. I remember having no hair and thinking to myself, “This, Adam, this is your preferred look.” Now that I have long hair, however, I can’t picture myself with no hair at all! People have commented that I have a lot of “looks,” meaning I look like a different person all of the time. Maybe it’s time to get into acting!
Update: March 13, 2002
I got my hair trimmed a few weeks ago. It’s still very long, but I keep it pulled back in a ponytail or a modified bun. How long will it go???
Update: June 8, 2002
I got cornrows done on my hair! How many Chinese or Asian people have you seen with cornrows? Thanks to Natasha for the excellent hair styling job!