by sarah braga
With Better Shorter, I wanted to explore something that has been a long-time itch for me: shaving my head. After watching countless Youtube videos titled "I SHAVE MY HEAD", I just couldn't let go of that need to feel my scalp - to just cut off the heavy weight of the curls on my head.
Before making this documetary, I had gone through a 'big chop' and cut my long hair to shoulder length. I kept telling myself that it would push me towards what I ultimately wanted. Turns out, the fear never went away: "I don't have the right head shape"; "I'm not pretty enough"; "what if I regret it?"; "what will people think?".
For my MA Documentary course, we were tasked with making a short documentary on a topic of our choice. Gender neutral barbershops in London had been on my radar for a while and I figured it was go-time. I decided to take the plunge in Better Shorter. I interviewed women and non-binary people about their experiences with short hair and shaved heads in the lead up to shaving my own head for the first time. I didn't want to enter this safe space and just observe - that is not my place to do. I had to go into it fully knowing that there was no option but to shave my own head at the end.
I don't want to speak on what the experience was like for me because this documentary is about the incredible contributors that spoke to me and much broader themes. Instead, I would like to thank the women and non-binary people in this documentary who are so incredibly supportive and beautiful. The amazing Lauren at Barberette was a driving force in the making of this documentary and the shop is well worth a visit.
And before you say anything about anyone who decides to make this choice, consider this: I'm not brave for this. It is not pioneering for cis white straight women to push back on society's definition of femininity and beauty. The LGBTQIA+ community has been redefining gender norms much before we ever thought to and many different cultures do not attach value and femininity to long hair. Cis white straight women who shave their heads are not starting a movement, we're only now starting to catch up at a pathetic pace.