A Quiet Rebellion

A Quiet Rebellion

On a little step stool, I stood at the bathroom sink looking up at the mirror hanging above it. Taking a deep breath, with visions of Demi Moore, Sigourney Weaver, and Robin Tunney flickering through my head, I stretched my right thumb and flipped up the ‘on’ button.

The trimmer I was holding started buzzing loudly, sending little shivers across my palm and down my arm, the vibrations surely reaching my heart as it was beating rapidly. I felt exhilarated. I was ready.

Another deep breath.

Then, reaching over to my forehead, I ran the clipper up into my hair for the first time. There was no going back. Every hair on my body was raised as the thrill of what I was doing rolled through every cell of me. My ears tickled. I kept going. One line after another. Then, leaning forward into the sink, I awkwardly reached towards the back of my head, starting at my neck and moving upwards. One pass after another. Then again sideways from ear to ear.

I stood up again, looking at myself in the mirror, bits of fallen hair clinging to my neck and shoulders. It was done. A sudden bit of doubt crept into my thoughts but just as quickly dissipated. I smiled with elated disbelief at what I had just done. My hair was gone.

I was 13 years old.


This act was fuelled by a deep desire to liberate and express myself. Ellen Ripley and Jordan O’Neill were powerful and beautiful without their hair…and so was I. But my belief was contrary to what I constantly heard around me. The messages were clear: a woman’s worth lies in her appearance, and her hair is her crowning glory. This was not something I believed in or understood, and I had been feeling an increasing need to do something about it…not for others, but for myself.

Interestingly, save for my immediate family, nobody could tell what I had done. You see, I used to wear a headscarf (hijab) at the time. So, it wasn’t a loud or attention-grabbing thing to have done. It wasn’t about showing off or causing a stir. It wasn’t about wanting people to see how cool or wild I was. It was about me, validating my individuality and freedom.

It was a quiet rebellion. The act of shaving my hair off at that age was simply and intimately mine.


I wasn’t popular as a kid, nor was I a shy loner. I was generally unassuming but determined to do things my way. I don’t think I realized at the time just how unique I was among my school peers. Whatever statements I made, I made them quietly, without expecting any attention for them…in fact, I hated the attention, because I just wanted to be myself without it turning into a ‘thing’. My one or two friends who knew and accepted me for myself were all I needed.

Once, while waiting to be picked up at the end of a school day, one of the popular kids somehow found out that I had a shaved head under my scarf. She came up to me and peered under the rim of the scarf towards my hairline. Smiling, she said, “I like you. You’re cool.” I knew she was expecting me to be grateful, but I wasn’t impressed. I might have mumbled a ‘thanks’, but my one thought in that moment was, “Yeah, I know.”  I didn’t need her validation and it bothered me that she offered her comment as approval.

And today, things aren’t any different. When it seems like success is reliant upon being noticed by one of the popular kids, I get a little defiant. When culturally conditioned thoughts find their way into my consciousness, of needing to put myself further ‘out there’ and be this way, behave that way, do this, and say that, in order to find connection, to market my business, to find success, and so on, I recall my quiet act of self-love.

I believe that we can carve out our own path on our own time, one that feels right for us. You had a purpose long before anyone had opinions about your path and how you should walk it. We don’t have to prove anything to anyone. We can take the road less travelled. Kindred spirits walk there too, and though it may take some time, we will most certainly cross paths. It’s not necessarily the road of the admired and marketable masses, but deep within, it’s the more fulfilling one.

What have you quietly rebelled against? In what area have you felt strongly the need to carve your own path? I’d love to know.

  1. I love this story, Fin. I too shaved my head once, and this tale has taken me back to that memory, making me think about my reasons for doing it. Interesting thoughts are coming up. I used to quietly rebel a lot more when I was a teenager and in my twenties than I do now in my forties and that disappoints me. I seem to have just, what? Given up? This year I feel many joyful rebellions are on their way.

    1. I think in comparison to those big ‘shave-my-hair’ moments it’s easy to miss the tiny rebellions that we take part in during our everyday lives. It’s really about being aware of when we’re feeling pushed into things that don’t sit well with us and honouring our ability to do what’s right for us.

      I’m excited to see the many joyful rebellions you’ll be leading this year!

  2. Wonderful story, Fin! Kindred spirits are all around us and I think you state it well when you say “we can carve out our own path on our own time.” So many of us discover that later in life, and sometimes, not at all… My acts of quiet rebellion have a lot to do with bucking the corporate success game, which is one of most enduring models of personal success in our culture. Over the years, the center of my life has shifted away from that, to fully embracing spirit.

    1. Thank you very much, Ruth! The corporate world is definitely a challenging place to be for those sensitive to the inefficiency of its often rigid and forceful nature. I’m with you 100% on fully embracing spirit!

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