Philadelphia Metropolis


A Bad Hair Day

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Robert Felsted Jr.

Can a new look really change your life? I really hadn't considered it before, but trying to make a name and a defining your own image is not an easy thing to do.

I had lived the previous 26 years of my life farther northeast where my curly mop of hair and thick beard was a way to identify myself as a young artist as well as a full-blown member of (what my high school guidance counselor called) the counterculture.

But that all changed one day recently when I woke up and stepped out of bed, sans glasses, and walked to the bathroom; blind as a bat.

I stared at my bearded face in the mirror as I splashed cool tap water on my face.

The brutal 90 degree heat of Philadelphia's pre-summer heat wave had officially gotten to me.

At my feet, sat my little grey cat named Moses. Moe and I were expressing the same distain for the sun as I splashed a couple of fistfuls of water over his face to cool him down.  I assume he would've done the same for me.  He was satisfied and grateful.

Still being practically blind without my specs, I reached for my beard trimmer. 

"Time for a trim," I playfully teased Moe. 

(Yes, I do talk to my cat.) 

I turned on the electric razor on and zipped up the side of my head.  Too far up the side.  I also had forgotten to put the guard on. Like a lawn mower in high grass, it laid bare a long swath of one side of my head. 

This is when I officially woke up and had one of those what-have-I just-done moments.

As I examined my fouled-up sideburn, I knew I was past the point of no return.

I could not undo what I had just done. The only option seemed to be to keep doing it.

A million different questions churned in my head. 

Is my nose going to look bigger? What will I look like? How's my girlfriend going to react? My employer? My friends?

I had an extremely important showcase lined up for my band that weekend.  Hello label execs, how do you like that previously hairy and average looking frontman with the wild bald head?      

No matter how ridiculous or superficial, the questions and concerns kept racing through my head as I lopped off each curly lock in clumps.

I stopped half way around my head to do an A/B comparison: curly on one side, shaved bald on the other. I was still not impressed by my freshly sheared noggin.

I decided I would have to lose the beard as well, though I chose to keep a Homer Simpson stubble to demonstrate that I was still a scruffy young man. Got to stay hip.  Nobody likes watching an aging rock-star.

After the mounds of loose hair settled in a ring around me, I put my glasses on and stared at the new person in the mirror.

The pressure from the heat was relieved and the insecurity I felt seemed like a bad joke.  What a joke to play on myself.  I had convinced myself that my look defined me as a person.  I was overwhelmed by the feeling that I would somehow be powerless against society if I was stripped of my old image.

This was not the case.

I have since gotten a new perspective on my image.  I've been provided with a refreshing viewpoint to match the fact that I no longer find the heat unbearable.  As for the opinions of others...

Of course they liked it.  It's ridiculous to assume that it would even make a difference.  Had I shaved Vanilla Ice designs into the sides, we may have had a problem but a fresh new look makes anyone feel like a new person.  There were compliments galore.

Essentially we are all frightened by the idea of change in our lives, especially when it pertains to the way we are viewed by others. I am no exception.

But, as humans, we typically find it refreshing when things do change. So, why not embrace a change in yourself and the way you look.

     Can an a new look change your life? 

Yes, but only after it changes your perception of yourself.   A boost in confidence can affect the course of your day and will absolutely change the way your friends and family see you.

What was once hair is no longer there.  But I remain.


Robert Felsted's lives, works and is bald in Northern Liberties.


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