(On Friday March 15th I shaved my head for charity. Here is what I wrote on that day about that experience)
Over the years I’ve sometimes uttered the words “I wonder what I’d look like with no hair”. Today my curiosity was satisfied. And the answer is “not as bad as I thought I might”. Today I took part in the World’s Greatest Shave as a fundraiser for the Leukaemia Foundation. So far I have raised over $700, which is pretty awesome considering I didn’t hold any functions or do anything other than let people know I’m doing it via Facebook and email.
I am surprised to find having no hair is not as big a deal to me as I thought it would be. Maybe it’s yet to hit, but at the moment I don’t feel much different. It feels a little cooler on my head, but that’s about it. The tiny length of hair that is still there is fascinating to touch – a bit like slightly prickly velvet – so I keep patting it like I’d pat a dog or cat :-). I found out I have a slight cone-head and that many hats don’t suit my head shape. But all in all the thought of shaving my hair off was a bigger deal than actually doing it.
I have found I’ve wanted to explain my big shave to people to make sure they know I’m not having chemotheraphy (and I haven’t joined the Hari Krishnas!). I find I’m quite concerned about upsetting or offending people who do have cancer, and I’m also conscious that some people might find it uncomfortable looking at my nearly-naked scalp.
I guess I feel a bit exposed if anything. Without hair there’s nowhere to hide. It’s just my face – suddenly naked and exposed for all to see. This morning I felt a sudden concern for the state of my unkempt eyebrows. Usually I don’t pay them much attention, but now they are in full view and prominent. Without hair I need my eyebrows to give shape to my face. And every other part of my face is suddenly totally exposed too without hair to distract people’s attention.
I suppose one of my fears has been “what if I’m ugly without my hair?”. You can’t do much to a face to change its look, except a bit of make-up. With hair you can deflect attention away from the face. Now I have no such luxury. But no, I don’t think I’m ugly. I’m not a supermodel but I think I look alright.
In my teen years having no hair would have been my ultimate nightmare. But at 40 I do feel a sense of freedom at having faced a fear and survived unscathed. More than that, I’ve faced a lot of people’s fears and found it’s not as scary as I had always thought it would be. I may find the next few months confronting in different ways as my hair grows back (with its natural brown colour and the greys I usually hide with blonde). But that’s nothing compared to what people with cancer confront daily.
Someone who I love very much is having a bone marrow transplant in a few months time. Whatever issues I’m confronting around image at the moment are nothing compared with what they are facing.
People have congratulated me for “being so brave” and shaving my head. The slogan for the World’s Greatest Shave is actually “Be Brave and Shave”. I once saw it as brave when other people did it, but I don’t anymore – or not in my case. I guess people consider it brave to face your fears, and in that respect I suppose I’m brave. But it really comes down to perspective. I have faced many things in my life that required (and still require) a level of bravery. But shaving my head when I know it’s going to grow back versus having a bone marrow transplant – I know which one I consider brave!
Bravery, to me, is dealing powerfully and resolutely with the things life throws at us – the things not of our choosing, but which we powerfully choose to accept and manage with courage, dignity and grace. Now that’s brave!
I just checked and my personal sponsorship page is still active, so if you have a few dollars to spare please feel free to pop over to my World’s Greatest Shave page and sponsor me. Thanks!!)