Monday, 30 November 2015

What Shaving My Head Taught Me About Life

Did you know I shaved all my hair off to a grade one buzz cut for charity? I raised funds for premature baby charity Bliss, almost £400 towards the families of premature babies (and counting). And I was totally overwhelmed at the support I received from all of you on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, not to mention all my friends and family. My long hair was tied in plaits and they've been sent off to the Little Princess Trust, an organisation that arranges for wigs to be made for children that have lost their hair through illness.




Incredible stuff.

But although I'd 'practised' in the mirror a few days before, scraping my hair back into a tight ponytail to try and imagine what I might look like without my hair, I wasn't quite prepared for what would happen to me when it all finally came off.

I'd imagined that once it was done I'd want to cover my fine, spiky cut with hats or actually not even go out at all. I'd Googled whether, because of my fine hair, people would just be able to see my scalp, which is what a hairdresser told me once, when I told her I wanted short hair. She told me it would look awful, as she snipped it into a 'Posh Spice' bob which is what every hairdresser recommended I have, ever. 

Even my mum said to me, nervously, "it won't be that short though, will it?" - er, yes mum, it's really short.




But the second it was all shaved off, everything completely changed. Somehow, as if by magic, I immediately found a new confidence in myself.

There are no locks whipping about across my face when I try and wave hello to a friend across the road on a windy day. You can't fiddle with your hair when you're nervous, something I was always guilty of. You can't pre-occupy yourself with how your hair looks - whether it's down, up, halfway up or spend hours looking on Pinterest for new braids or buns to style it in. No searching for hair clips or hairbands, either. The house is no longer littered with hair pins, which I used to leave wherever I took them out.

It's like a whole part of your life gets removed. And you have so much more time on your hands because of it.

You also feel more open to the world; kind of more exposed. In a good way.

Some people have stopped saying hello to me in the street. I haven't quite got to the bottom of this, although they were saying hello to me the day before I cut my hair. 

Others thought I was ill - although I told as many friends as I could for the two months prior, word didn't quite get around to everyone. Some were relieved when they found out, others seemed a bit fed up about it, and I got the feeling they felt tricked. That wasn't my intention. 

Workmen no longer flirted or cheerily shouted hello if I walked past. They just fell silent for a few seconds, giving each other knowing, silent looks as I passed. And that was fine too.

It's funny - just because you have a hair cut like this, people - even random strangers - feel they can come up to you and ask why you have your hair like that, like it's something very weird to them, and they need to know why you would ever do that to yourself. I've had contemporary, styled short haircuts in the past, but no one asked me why I'd chosen those. 

Some people were in awe of the fact I'd buzzed my hair and called me brave. But to me, shaving your hair off for charity isn't exactly brave. Holding your child's hand while they're sitting in a hospital bed having chemotherapy and reading them their favourite stories while keeping positive, that's brave. Planning a family Christmas even though doctors say you might not make it - that's brave. And walking up the corridor to the Special Care Baby Unit every morning and evening for three months, going through every blood transfusion, every poke and prod, every beep of the SATs machine, feeling like it's never going to end, but finding the joy in spending time with your new baby. Even if they're snuggled up attached to wires inside an incubator and you can only just stick your hands in the holes in the side to 'hug' them. That's brave. 

My hair's growing back already. 

But there were other changes, too.



No longer having any hair kind of calmed me down and gave me a strong stillness. I face people straight on, no longer hiding behind my long hair. There's no hiding from embarrassment, shyness or anything else. I feel quieter in my mind, less anxious.

Now I wonder if we maybe spend too much time worrying about our hair - worrying about what people think of us and how we look to others. There's a point when the security blanket sitting on top of your head really isn't that important anymore. We fill our days and nights with hair. How it's styled, how to keep it looking shiny, looking thicker - how to get the same look as your favourite celeb or the glossy, bouncy locks of a snappily-dressed royal.

But you know what? You look great. You are great. You don't need your hair to do that for you. You are naturally gorgeous. And I don't know what it is, but now my hair's all shaved off, I feel like I can tackle this beautiful, tempestuous world literally head on. It's really quite empowering.

I smile more. I worry less. I can see the things that are really important to me. I feel quietly powerful. And, for the first time ever, I don't care what people think of me. My insecurities are gone. 

No haircut before has ever made me feel like that.


You can see the video of me having my head shaved on You Tube








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