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CLASH OF COMMENTS: Should you shave your head?

The COVID-19 lockdown causes Alex Thompson and Joseph Higgins to debate the virtues of shaving your hair off

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Image Credit: Patrick Hook-Willers

With the lockdown period unfortunately looking set to continue for a while yet, that also means a longer period without a trip to the hairdresser. As barnets up and down the UK begin to grow out of control, the big question on the minds of many will be... 'Should I shave my head?'

We pitted two of the most folicly blessed members of our team against one another to argue it out.

YES - Alex Thompson

Within a week of lockdown I’d buzzed my head. I don’t know whether it was the lockdown-mania setting in but I just took a pair of clippers to my hair and cut it all down to a tight 3-2-1 buzz cut. I went from an overgrown fade to a viciously short buzz cut in the space of half an hour. My girlfriend was not impressed.

Buzz cuts are a staple of quarantine life, like baking banana bread, Tiger King memes and people who will not stop tagging you in Instagram album challenges. Me and thousands of other men across the country have taken clippers to our heads out of desperation, madness or just for the hell of it.

Because why not?

I’m sure every man has wondered what they’d look like without hair, even if it is out of fear of going bald. I think I’d always secretly wanted to shave my head, and lockdown was just the perfect “fuck it” catalyst. As an excuse to just try something new, a global pandemic is surprisingly effective. If it went well, I wouldn’t need to worry about my hair growing wild over the duration of lockdown and might save a small fortune on haircuts in the future. If it went badly, the only person who would get to laugh at it would be my mum.

Fortunately, it went quite well. Unfortunately, my mum still found it hilarious.

When you think about the alternatives to shaving your head, a buzzcut is quite a smart option. Lads, do you really want those crisp skin fades growing into shaggy undercuts or carefully maintained fringes growing into sweeping curtains? Do you brave the dreaded mullet? Long hair can look great, but that stage between a short-back-and-sides and the full Viking can look a bit trashy. If you’ve already got that lucious Viking hair and suit it, lucky you. If you’re usually the sort of person who makes a monthly trip to the barbers I’d seriously consider shaving your head. The buzzcut isn’t just confined to men either - special shout out to my housemate Annabel who buzzed her head late last year and looks great.

Shaving your head can also be surprisingly therapeutic. It can be cathartic, a good way to get rid of any of those lockdown frustrations. It can be fun; shaving the heads of mates or family members is always a good laugh. It’s also a change, doing something different. With every day feeling like that timeless period between Christmas and New Year (with none of the fun or socialising) change can be a good thing. If your quarantine routine is anything like mine (lie in, food, Netflix, Xbox, think about doing Uni work, Netflix, food, bed) then you probably want to shake up your quarantine experience a bit. What better way than cutting all your hair off?

If you are reading this and asking “should I shave my head?”, I would say why the fuck not? If you’ve got a decent enough set of clippers lying around, it’ll take you a matter of minutes and will save you that awful feeling of knowing your hair is that nasty length between the usual trim and looking like a Viking. Even if you’re worried about the shape of your head or how it’ll change your appearance, you can be safe in the knowledge that very few people are going to see it.

And why should it stop there? Go mad - dye your hair, cut a fringe. This is the period where men and women alike can just experiment with their style. In quarantine, no one cares how you look. People may mock you over HouseParty but you can feel superior, knowing that you no longer need to add shampoo to your essential weekly shop.

Lockdown is the perfect time to just have fun and experiment because right now, that’s what we all need. It’s not just about shaving your head, it’s about what shaving your head represents: the freedom, the catharsis, the change. Worst case scenario, you’ve got at least another month for it to grow back before you’re back in the Charles.

Shave your heads, have some fun.

NO - Joseph Higgins

I’m considering my half of this debate to be more a public service announcement than anything else; you should grow your hair out, it’ll probably look awesome! Now, those of you who know me have seen my hair, and you know I rock locks that’d make Vikings weep. It did take me a lot of time and effort to get hair this luscious and long - I’ve not been to an actual hairdresser for over 2 years. But, you don’t need to when you’ve got hair like mine, and it looks damn good at that.

Sure, buzzing your head might seem like the safer option. You might be telling yourself it’s gonna grow back, and it will… for some of you. But I’ve seen enough receding hairlines to know that a buzz cut will become a shaved head for the rest of your life if you give in to the temptation during this lockdown. That’s fine if you think you can rock the look. Shaved heads can look damn fine, especially with a beard, but it’ll take a lot of confidence to pull it off so it’s a big choice to make. Instead, why not do what you’ve already been doing, and hide that forehead under progressively longer hair? One day that might not be sustainable, but you should keep the veneer of youth for as long as you can, right?

And yes, it might take ages to care for longer hair but don’t pretend you’re not already spending ages in the shower to get a change of scenery during this lockdown. It’ll give you something to do, you’ve got the time, and there’s no better feeling than when conditioned hair is dry and you run your fingers through it. That feeling alone makes me proud that I’ve kept this mop top for so long. There really is nothing like it.

Letting your hair grow out is a commitment, and I fully accept it will look AWFUL in the stage between short and long. I once got a bad haircut from a barber that was an inch too short and ended up rocking the Lord Farquaad for a week. That was not a fun time in Year 10, I can tell you that… but who are you gonna see? It’s not like you have to go outside more than once a day. You don’t have to go interact with anyone, it’s the perfect time to overcome that dreaded phase in the comfort of your own home and emerge with a beautiful hair flick (yes, the L’Oréal poses do take time to master, practice in the mirror).

If you’re already experimenting with what you look like to try and inject some change into your appearance and the monotony of this difficult time, it’s worth giving long hair a shot. You don’t have to go all-in and have hair down to your butt as I do, but there’s no harm in seeing what you’d look like if you went the opposite extreme to buzzing yourself all over.

Also, let me tell you this, there is nothing more entertaining than having people be jealous of your hair. I’ve spent most of my recent life trying to fight off my female friends and housemates from braiding, plaiting or otherwise playing with my hair, and it’s both incredibly flattering and really funny. Maybe that’s just me, but it’s certainly not the worst thing in the world to have your appearance be appreciated like that!

My hair is my vanity project. It’s one of the only parts of my appearance I care about and uphold, and it just feels good to wake up every day, look in the mirror and see evidence that you’ve put time and effort into a part of yourself - especially during this lockdown which can be a real downer on everyone’s mental health. Looking after my long hair is the perfect way for me to maintain my confidence at this trying time and I think it’s a method that might work for others too.

So really, what do you have to lose? It’s the perfect time to see what you’d look like as a Viking, with an afro or a mohawk or any other style that only growing out that hair will allow for, and if you don’t like it, it’s possible to change it. It’s all about what works for you, and what works for me is letting my hair be free.

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