Since my buzzcut last week, the next-door neighbours, Palestinian girls, all eight of them, have taken an interest in me. I have been sat down on their sofa, they have sat down on my sofa, and next week we shall all go out for booza (ice cream).
What they haven’t yet discovered is that my shaved head makes me feel very,very soft, like the inside of a heifer calf’s ear or a 1960s telephone covered in velour. My flatmates know though. Gratifying.
My haircut was completed by a wonderful shaven-headed Dane I met at Snowbar in Ramallah. After her shift as a nurse at a local hospital she dropped by, with confidence and grace and ease and clippers and without ado. I can recommend her highly. She very much wanted me to keep the ‘baby dyke’ look.
We talked about being women with shaven heads for a bit then climbed onto the balcony railing to feel the sun and wind on our scalps. From somewhere a youth hooted at us.
I have been wearing a turbanned scarf or handkerchief most times I venture out, though occasionally I forget. I take @saimasmileslike and Lord Byron for inspo.
I avoid wearing scarves like hijab to minimise confusion over whether I have reverted to Islam. The attention has been wholly positive thus far, particularly from the neighbours, who are lovely girls.
I am glad they have befriended me, though part of me feels harangued by Simon Amstell to grow my hair out (to stop misleading them).
One of them confided in me that it was probably their roommate Fatima who was hooting at me on the balcony that day. Fatima was a published author at 17, here she is talking about her book (Arabic only).
In conclusion, my advice for women traveling alone in the West Bank is to shave your head.