Blogging Haitus & 10 Reasons Why I Shaved My Head

Hello friends, long time no talk! If you’re here for the recipes, use the tabs at the top, or the search bar over to the right, to find what you’re looking for. Otherwise, stick around and let’s chat a while.

Copyright Willow Arlen, 2017

As you may have noticed from the title (and the picture above)… I got a haircut! I’m pretty stoked about it, too. I’ve been wanting to shave my head for ages, and I’ll talk all about why in just a moment.

But first, I wanted to offer an explanation and some thoughts about why I haven’t been sharing recipes for the past few months. I know the advice online would say, “don’t mention to your readers when you’ve been absent” — and if you’re new or just stopping by for the first time, you can skip this bit if you want — but for my long-time readers, I feel like I owe you all some words.

It all started back in January, when I published a recipe every day for 30 days. That was a lot of fun, but also a lot of work, and it burned me out. That was to be expected, and I planned on taking a break from blogging for a month or so to recover. But when February ended, I was still feeling uninspired, and before I knew it March and April had passed, too. I still felt just as burned out, and for the longest time I didn’t understand why.

Then I realized that it didn’t have to do with January, at all. It had to do with the pressures I felt as a content creator, which had been slowly wearing away at me over the past year.

For those of you who are bloggers and social media experts, you probably already know what I’m talking about. The constant striving to keep in the know, making sure you’re optimizing your content for google, facebook, pinterest, etc., the daily struggle to stay on top of changing information, algorithms, trends. None of which has anything to do with the content you create, or the reason you put it out there in the first place.

Thinking about those things is necessary in the online world, but it can quickly become the death of creativity, drive, and passion. I actually contemplated retiring this blog all together, because keeping up with it all seemed so antithetical to what I wanted to do: to be an honest person, making honest recipes, fueled by my own inspiration and love of cooking for those around me.

Instead, I decided to step away, take some deep breaths, and distance myself from any kind of preconceptions about “doing it right.” I’m not here to follow google’s algorithm or create recipes based on what Instagram thinks will be trendy. I’m here to be myself, because I want to be, because it’s fun.

That means there might not be a recipe every week… or even every month. It means I’ll be sharing only the best of the best, the ones I’m really excited about, and they’ll come when they naturally do. And it means I might write about other things more often — so if you’re a die-hard foodie and aren’t interested in other topics, you might find we aren’t a good fit (don’t worry, I won’t be offended).

And in a way, it also means shaving my head.

Copyright Willow Arlen, 2017

For a long time I’ve had the notion that seeing myself without hair would be a bit like seeing a celebrity without their makeup. That maybe, just maybe, there’s a more authentic person underneath. Hair defines so much about how we look, and how other people see us… and it’s the first thing they see.

And yet, hair has nothing to do with who we are. Take it away, and you’re left with just a person’s face — their eyes, their smile or their frown, their personality.

I realize there are a lot of negative things associated with a woman shaving her head — the first thought most of us have is (if it isn’t cancer) it’s some kind of mental breakdown, an emotional failing, a response to something tragic or traumatizing.

I assure you, this is none of those things. I am diagnosably sane, I don’t have cancer, and shaving my head was pure joy. Let me tell you why.

10 Reasons Why I Shaved My Head (in no particular order):

  1. As I mentioned above, I wanted to see me, underneath all the hair. Hair can be fun, and beautiful, and sexy, but ultimately it has nothing to do with who we are as people — it’s just a natural accessory, and I wanted to know what it would be like to take it off.
  2. I was curious to know what I would look like. I’ve always been adventurous with my hairstyles, but you never know until you go all the way what the shape of your head is like, if your ears stick out, or if you’d look totally badass. (I was hoping for the latter, and am happy to say I think I look pretty good. But even if I didn’t, it’s only hair, and hair grows back.)
  3. Just for fun! Before shaving my head, I didn’t tell anyone (except my husband, my mother, and one close friend). With everyone else, I’ve been savoring the surprise on their faces as they see me.
  4. It is liberating as all get out. It’s kind of freeing to break out of the mould that “girls should have hair,” but on a more tangible level, it’s just plain wonderful to not have to deal with it. No washing, drying, fussing, brushing, shedding. No hair in my face, hair in the drain, hair on my clothes, hair tickling my neck when I’m trying to sleep. No bad hair days or bed head, or an hour of styling undone by a gentle breeze. I’ve never been that vain or fussy, but after shaving my head I can honestly say I had no idea how much of my mental time and energy was spent on my hair. It feels like ten gigs of mental RAM have just opened up, and that processing power can be used for better things. There’s nothing like knowing that I’m lookin’ fine from the moment I roll out of bed in the morning to the moment I go to sleep.
  5. Save time, money, energy — no more shampoo, conditioner, products, hair cuts, etc.
  6. The feel of it! I cannot get enough of touching my own head, or the sensation of water running over my scalp in the shower, or the coolness of wind or warmth of sun when I step outside. When someone opens a window, my head is the first to know!
  7. It’s an instant friend-filter. If anyone is shallow enough that my looks (I mean really… my hair) are a friendship-dealbreaker, then I probably don’t want them in my life in the first place.
  8. Hello, confidence! Having a shaved head is like a big-ol’ sign that says “I don’t care what anyone thinks of me,” and having that on the outside translates to the inside. Like, now that that’s out of the way, I can use my mental energy for other things. Like being awesome. And by being awesome, I mean unapologetically me.
  9. To check it off my bucket list. (Really, this should be a good enough reason all on it’s own, right? What better reason is there than, “because I want to.”?)
  10. To see every stage of growth from zero hair, to a tiny bit, to some, to more and more and more. My hope is to take a photo-a-day of how it looks as it grows back, and who knows — maye I’ll find something I love but never would have tried otherwise.

I wrote this list before I did the deed, as a way of cementing my reasons in my own mind — and having done it now (and added a few things to the list) I can say my projections were spot on. I couldn’t be happier!

Have you ever shaved your head, or wanted to but haven’t? How else have you stepped outside your comfort zone? Tell me all about it in the comments below.

I’ll leave you with this quote from a fellow youtuber, and a stop-motion video I made of the process of cutting my hair:

“If your insides are saying this is what you want to do, and it’s been on your mind for a long time, most likely the only thing stopping you is fear. Fear of judgement, fear of what you’re going to look like. Fear is a bitch and it’s going to stop you from doing some of the best things in your life, so I say if the urge is there, do it.” — Sorelle Adore

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33 Responses to Blogging Haitus & 10 Reasons Why I Shaved My Head

  1. Jared July 18, 2017 at 11:09 am #

    Excellent article and I really enjoyed the time-lapse video. Now I want to shave my head.

  2. Diana July 18, 2017 at 11:12 am #

    Good for you…it’s what is inside…your beautiful with or without! Your smile must brighten a room….love your blog too!
    Have a great day and keep smiling!

  3. Lokness July 18, 2017 at 11:34 am #

    You go girl! Be yourself! I applaud your courage! As a blogger myself, I feel your pain and the low. There are times that I lose my inspiration and just want to give up. At that point, I usually let myself to take a couple weeks off. By the end of the break, I usually realize that I love to cook and I want to share it. Nothing else matters! I’m going to cook what I love and what I enjoy! 😉 Always follow our hearts, right?

    • Willow Arlen July 19, 2017 at 11:49 am #

      I couldn’t agree more. I got worried this time because a couple weeks (even a couple months) wasn’t enough, which has never happened for me before. I do still love cooking and sharing it, but I guess I need more of a break this time than usual. But in the meantime, I’m following my heart in other ways, and trying not to feel guilty about taking the time I need. I’m really glad I wrote about it — it feels wonderful to know I’m not alone. Thank you so much for your sweet comment!

  4. Ellen July 18, 2017 at 11:48 am #

    Awesome and downright Miss Willow ❤️❤️
    You are beautiful and I LOVE your new ‘do’ !!!

  5. Miriam Hamblett July 18, 2017 at 12:35 pm #

    Can’t believe you did this! Why? Because I have been considering doing the same thing. For months now.
    It is getting into the heat of summer here in Texas. 100+F days and for some reason this year my hair is feeling increasingly like a burden I want to shed. I had cut it short a couple of months ago, but it grew longer very quickly.
    I would prefer to have it be about 3″ long, but the clipper guides I have only go to a 1″. I am a bit concerned as I am obese and feel it would have a pinhead effect.
    But I am so curious about just shaving my head and then letting it grow out. What will I look like? How long will it take to grow out? What about the belief some people have that the hair is an extension of the nervous system and it need to be left long and never cut? Guess I won’t know until I just do it.

    But, Willow, you did it! Synchronicity strikes again!

    • Willow Arlen July 19, 2017 at 11:53 am #

      Oh my gosh, Miriam, that’s so interesting that we were both thinking it at the same time! I had all those same questions, and finally I just decided… I’ll never know till I try, and after all, it is hair — if it turns out to be a horrible mistake, it will grow back eventually. I didn’t know if it would look good on me, either, but I am so glad I took the chance. And I’ve been surprised at how quickly it’s growing, too. It’s been a little over ten days since I cut it, and already it’s visibly longer. I suspect I’ll have a cute pixi-cut look in a year. If you’re itching to do it, I say go for it. And if it’s too short at first, I’ve discovered that head scarfs and wraps are a really fun way to accessorize!

  6. Heather July 18, 2017 at 1:40 pm #

    Good for u Willow. Looks don’t have anything to do with it. I love that u are so comfortable being just fabulous you!

    • Willow Arlen July 19, 2017 at 11:55 am #

      Thank you so much, Heather! And I feel the same way. When I was debating whether to do it (wondering what I might look like) I finally decided I just didn’t give a crap. Looking good would be a bonus, looking bad wouldn’t matter. And honestly, I think much less about my appearance now than when I had hair — I was always worried about how my hair looked, but now I just feel like “this is what I look like, and I don’t care whether people like it or not.” It’s a great feeling!

  7. Brenna July 18, 2017 at 7:22 pm #

    Funny you post this today. After keeping calm for five years in a very trying relationship, last November, I believe my crown chakra exploded. On the back of my head, I started sprouting glow-in-the-dark white and extremely curly hair. At 51, I’m starting to whiten up and here and there which was just fine with me, but this large patch of white was like someone else’s hair and it was pushing the brown hair out, so blinding white, very curly and short, but growing. I kept expecting someone to say something to me in the line at the grocery, but I think people may have thought I was ill. I was looking for a job here in Oregon so as to leave this man and support myself, so in April, I colored just the unruly but left it curly – I’m self conscious enough during job interviews. You’d never know from the front, but when I turned around . . . holy what? Well, finding a well-enough paying job wasn’t in my cards, so I took a friend up on staying at her place back in the Seattle area. I am leaving next week for yet another adventure. Just today, I had a foot and a half of hair chopped. New life =new do. I considered cutting it all off, but finding a well paying corporate gig might be a little tougher. As it is, I believe it’s going to be something I have to get used to – I’ve had long hair since I was 13. The length is at least more even in the back, but it still looks like a rat’s nest back there and the front is not playing along like I’d hoped. With your courage, perhaps once I get that great job, I’ll jump in that pool of shave it.

    You look absolutely adorable and I love that video! Rock on, sister!! And thanks for posting this commentary today – I needed that!

    • Willow Arlen July 19, 2017 at 11:59 am #

      Wow Brenna, congratulations on moving forward into a new chapter of life. And how interesting that your hair would change so dramatically! I definitely feel the whole, needing to stay presentable for a corporate gig, thing. I know of some women who keep their heads shaved but wear wigs when necessary, and I don’t know if that would be an option for you. Whatever you do, I hope you’re able to find a job you love, and a ‘do you love, too!

  8. Camille July 18, 2017 at 11:26 pm #

    You look great Willow! Glad you are checking things off your bucket list 😉👍🏼

  9. Michelle Frank | Flipped-Out Food July 19, 2017 at 10:46 am #

    This post is truly inspiring. I always threaten to shave my head on windy days, but my hubster isn’t very enthused about the idea. I admire your bravery! You address many of the fears and frustrations I’ve dealt with as a new-ish blogger—and you’ve validated my decision to post at my own pace, despite feeling that EVERYONE’S advice is to ramp it up. We have to stay inspired, after all. I always felt that cranking out content for content’s sake would eventually result in…well, crappy, flat content—not to mention burnout. You look gorgeous. And HAPPY. Welcome back.

    • Willow Arlen July 19, 2017 at 12:05 pm #

      Thank you so much, Michelle. I have always tried to tell myself to go at my own pace with blogging, and for the most part I have… but I STILL got burned out. In the back of my head there was always second guessing, and guilt for not posting more consistently. And every time I checked social media, I was bombarded by other bloggers content, or questions about some change google had made, or a discussion of the best way to make your photos pin-worthy… and I think the constant buzz became too much for me. Definitely listen to yourself and what you need, and never feel bad about doing things in a way that feels good to you.

      I feel very lucky that my husband was supportive of the idea. He’s said it’s cute, and he’s definitely enjoying rubbing my head… but I do think he prefers long hair, overall. If it’s something you’re seriously considering, I’d try reminding your guy that it will grow back eventually. ;)

  10. Monique July 19, 2017 at 11:25 am #

    I shaved my head bald right after I had my daughter. I made my best friend do with the clippers. It was very, very liberating! I started wearing big hoop earrings and totally owned my bald head.

    My (now) ex loved it! But then again, he has always co-signed on my hair adventures. (Which is why even though we’re not together, we’re still great friends.) I kept my hair short (1/2 inch) for many years thereafter. My daughter (whose 15 now… time flies!) constantly tells me that I should cut it all off again. She thinks I looked really swanky back then.

    Good for you for being so brave! You are beautiful with and without hair! I love that you took a chance.

    • Willow Arlen July 19, 2017 at 12:08 pm #

      That is fantastic, Monique! I am having so much fun with earrings, too — I’m actually starting to get into studs and earcuffs, which I never wore before because my hair covered them up. And that’s so fun that your daughter is encouraging you to do it again!

  11. Cheryl July 20, 2017 at 6:23 am #

    I have totally thought about shaving my head, for many of the reasons you cite, but especially to shake up my routines and as a friend filter. Other changes are scratching the itch for radical change in my life right now, so probably won’t follow in your footsteps soon, but good for you!

    • Willow Arlen July 20, 2017 at 10:02 am #

      I feel you — only so much radical change at once, please. If you get the urge in the future to shave your head though, I say GO FOR IT. I had no idea if I’d actually feel confident or liberated or happy about it once it was done, but I absolutely do. Feels even better than I had hoped!

  12. movita beaucoup July 20, 2017 at 7:55 am #

    I think you’re ahead of the curve! I predict (shhhhhhh) the collapse of food blogs in the next couple of years. Too many people doing the same thing? And I mean: the EXACT SAME THING? Never good. I’d rather read something with substance! (No hair required.)

    • Willow Arlen July 20, 2017 at 10:06 am #

      I feel like I can breathe a sigh of relief after reading your comment, Rachel, thank you. I’m glad I’m not the only one thinking that. I love creating and sharing recipes, but with the internet so saturated with it, my efforts feel more meaningful in the real world, with my in-person friends and family. I love the community being online can create, but I’m already scheming up other ways to share myself with the world besides food. Really, you were the one ahead of the curve, you did this ages ago — I’m just finally coming to my senses!

  13. Marlene July 20, 2017 at 8:46 pm #

    Wow, you look fabulous! I agree, hair takes up far too much mental space. I keep thinking it would be freeing to get mine cut short again … I spend a ridiculous amount of time debating even that!

    • Willow Arlen July 21, 2017 at 9:38 am #

      Thanks Marlene! It is crazy how much we think about our hair, isn’t it? If you’re thinking about cutting it short again, I’d say that’s a sign! ;)

  14. Laura Edgerton August 27, 2017 at 8:45 pm #

    I randomly discovered your site and this post while Googling for accounts of why other women have decided to shave or buzz their heads (I buzzed mine a week ago after toying with the idea for at least a year – it felt absolutely LIBERATING). I was sick of having hair, I wanted a major change. I wanted to see the me underneath the hair on me. I LOVE it. You look beautiful; your shaved head really suits you. Your list was so on point; I can relate to everything you wrote. Thank you. (Now I need to update my profile photo!) Bookmarking your site now!

    • Willow Arlen August 28, 2017 at 12:26 pm #

      Thank you so much, Laura! Isn’t it fantastic to get rid of all that hair?! I’m glad you found my site and that you could relate to why I did it. I really think more people should go for it — it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be!

  15. Allyson September 19, 2017 at 1:35 pm #

    “Thinking about those things is necessary in the online world, but it can quickly become the death of creativity, drive, and passion.” <– truer words have never been spoken. THIS POST is incredible. Thank you for opening up and sharing (and for documenting your liberation from hair!) I often feel how much easier life would be without it! xoxoxo

  16. Aysegul Sanford September 19, 2017 at 10:09 pm #

    You are beautiful either way. Congrats on your new freedom.
    PS: Good to have you back. :)

  17. Senta October 3, 2017 at 12:00 pm #

    Heyyy
    I like it a lot!! It’s looks so beautiful and natural :) by now I think since June about cut my hair … but I’m afraid of it because many people around me would talk about me. Also my parents don’t agree with it. I’m 15 years old and my mom says I would look like a cancer patient, but that’s isn’t the truth. That’s the way i am .. a friend tells me I don’t get a boyfriend because they don’t think good about shaving hair as a girl! Maybe I wait till I’m 16 but at the moment I’m unsure… (sorry for my bad English, I hope you understand what I like to say) greetings from Germany

    • Willow Arlen October 28, 2017 at 7:02 pm #

      Thank you for the comment, Senta! I can see where your parents are coming from. It may be best to listen to them for now, and if it’s something you really want to do, you can always do it when you’re a little older. And as for boys not liking girls who are bald, I have to disagree completely! I got hit on way more after I shaved my head. ;)
      Don’t worry to much about what others will think. If they care that much about what your hair looks like, they probably don’t care enough about you as a person. It’s what’s inside that counts, not what’s on (or not on) your head.

  18. Leone Oakhill October 21, 2017 at 1:35 am #

    I used to volunteer with the local Meals on Wheels and I was looking for a way to pay forward the support the group had given us in the aftermath of a flood.
    The World’s Greatest Shave, which raises funds for cancer research by cutting or colouring your hair, beard or eyebrows, was coming up.
    So I entered in the name of Meals on Wheels, and when I approached people for sponsorship I would let them know I was entering in the name of … Meals on Wheels.
    My hair was down to my bra strap at the back and by the time the hairdresser was finished I didn’t even have stubble.
    To say it was liberating is an understatement.
    Three years later I still have my hair razor cut and totally enjoy the freedom of it.
    As you said, your hair does not define who you are.
    Besides I love shocking people.
    Ended up raising $1800 for the Worlds Greatest Shave.
    I achieved my goals, was able to spread the name of Meals on Wheels and pay forward the support they gave us.

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