How a haircut can change your life
We’ve been loving the buzz cut lately but our fascination had only been with it’s aesthetic – until this interview made us consider it’s meaning. German model Kris Gottschalk talked to style.com about the reason she shaved her head – for her it was a cathartic moment that had little to do with appearances.
We’d love to see some brave faces making this move for the Spring! Go on – we dare you.
What spurred your decision to buzz your head?
I stopped modeling and kind of went away for a while. I had an accident on a motorcycle and I cracked my head, broke stuff. It was like a new beginning and I really had this feeling of, “I think I need to shave my head.” I’ve always wanted to do it and I never really dared to because I thought, “Oh, the modeling . . .” But I didn’t like what I was doing anyway because [my hair] was blonde, fake, and not who I really [am]. After I did it, I actually didn’t expect to get back into modeling. I came back to New York to see my friends; some of my friends were photographers, and they were like, “Oh, it looks great! We should shoot something.” In the beginning I didn’t have that much hair—it was just a little fluff.
Did you buzz it yourself?
Someone in Bali buzzed it. It was a Balinese guy, and he was like, “You sure?” and I was like, “Yeah. Cut all the blonde out. Cut it out.” I said: “Shorter, shorter!” He was like, “Are you sure?” I was this blonde girl cutting her hair off saying, “Do it, do it.”
Why Bali? What were you doing there?
Surfing. I didn’t really want to do the whole modeling thing anymore.
So you went to Bali to find yourself?
Yeah. Actually, I was in Thailand beforehand on a meditation retreat. It was great.
Tell me more about your retreat in Thailand.
I went on this meditation thing. It wasn’t exactly a retreat, it was hard-core, monastery-style [meditation].
What inspired you to go on this monastery experience?
I was always really interested in finding something else, something bigger. I’m really interested in philosophy and I read a lot. I just needed to get away from all of this. It was too much. It was like, “I’m not myself anymore.”
I imagine you saw a lot of people with shaved heads at a monastery in Thailand.
Yes, a lot of the monks. And then I came back with a shaved head!
Are the monks who inspired you to go for it?
Actually, no. I read that a lot of people shave their head when they have an epiphany or change their lives drastically because hair retains a lot of energy. It’s an Asian tradition—a Korean friend of mine told me that. That’s why people go crazy and then become normal again after they shave their heads.
I imagine it’s a cleansing experience.
Exactly. I just wanted to get rid of whatever was behind me. It was like a new start.
The motorcycle accident, however, was in Bali, and that was where you shaved your head?
Yes, surgery in Bali. I was in the hospital for ten days or so.
How did the accident happen?
I was with a friend and we didn’t wear helmets. I didn’t drive, but I was in the back. And then I don’t remember because I had a concussion . . . I don’t even know how it happened, but apparently there was a car coming and there were all these windy streets.
When you first saw yourself in the mirror after you cut off all of your hair, what did you think?
The first week I was a little bit uncomfortable, [especially] when I was leaving Bali with short hair. I remember someone saying, “You’re very beautiful.” And I was like, “Really? But I look like a boy now.” And he said, “No!”
What inspired you to come back to New York and start modeling again?
To be honest, it was just to see my friends. I wanted to come back here because it was still kind of home—I hadn’t really lived in Germany for a while. My arm was still in a sling, so I couldn’t really work, but I started taking some portraits with my friends [who were] photographers and said, “Actually, this looks cool.” Then I changed [my agency] to Elite and they were just getting me out there and helping me meet people I hadn’t met before. Everything changed.
It’s funny how life works out—you cut your hair to escape the industry and wind up back in it and more successful than ever.
I felt like me—it was more authentic. Before that, [my hair] was pretty fake. I was trying to be someone that I wasn’t. I had extensions for some time, blonde extensions, it didn’t work for me. No one liked it! It wasn’t real.
Do you think your hair at that time had a lot to do with not getting booked?
If you meet clients and meet people and you’re not really yourself . . . I wasn’t comfortable. I wasn’t confident. I feel good and in my skin now.
Is your hair a huge part of that newfound confidence?
It was some part of it, for sure.