In a few days time I’m going to find out just how much physical image means to me. Why? Because I’ll have no hair left. I am taking part in the World’s Greatest Shave – a fundraiser for the Leukaemia Foundation – and on Friday 15th March I will be shaving my head to raise money for research and patient support.
It’s starting to feel a little like one of those “it seemed like a good idea at the time” situations as it gets closer to shave day. I must admit there wasn’t a great deal of deep thought went into my decision to take part. I just realised when I heard the ad on the radio that the idea of shaving my head confronted me, which usually is a sign to me that I need to take something on. I really just thought “well, what’s stopping you from taking part?” The answer was “nothing” other than my fears around image. And with that realisation I thought of all the people out there, women in particularly, who are being confronted every day with the idea of losing their hair due to chemotherapy, on top of their already overwhelming fear of facing their own mortality.
And suddenly choosing to shave my head to raise money for a good cause didn’t seem so scary. I mean I get to choose when I lose my hair and where. I don’t have a life-threatening illness, I don’t have to have chemotherapy, and my hair will grow back quickly. People going through chemotherapy don’t get to choose whether they lose their hair. They either do or they don’t according to their body’s response to chemotherapy. They certainly don’t get the option of dying their hair or to only have the clippers on a 3-4 setting, so I’ve decided to shave mine completely – if I’m going to do it I ay as well do it completely.
I have found it very interesting to see other people’s responses to my hair shaving fundraiser. It brings up everyone else’s issues around physical image. I’ve had people get quite upset at the idea of me shaving my already-short hair. I can’t imagine what they’d be like if I had long hair.
But I’m not denying I have issues around image too. My current worry is that people might actually think I’m sick with cancer and give me sympathy or people who do have cancer will think I’m being offensive to them. I knew taking this on would bring up all my issues around image and other things, and it’s already starting. Imagine what it will be like Friday!
I will be interested to see if it feels freeing to no longer have hair to define my physical image (or shampoo, style or get cut!) or whether it will send me into a tailspin of trying to find the right hat or scarf to suit my bald look (perpetuating the image addiction). I’d like to think it’ll be the former, but I fear it may be the latter. From my down-to-my-backside blonde hair in my younger years to my 80s perms to my assisted-blonde short do of 2013, my hair has been part of my image for 40 years. What will I be without it (I feel like Sampson! Will it indeed take away my powers?!).
Obviously I will still be me, hair or no hair. It makes me think about people of different races and skin colour who have been discriminated against for millennia merely due to what they look like. Inside they are just the same human beings as anyone else, with the same fears, concerns, dreams and plans. But just because of how they look, they have been denied opportunities and basic civil rights, among many other indignities and atrocities. What a day it will be when physical appearance means nothing to anyone. It’s possibly a Utopian ideal, but it’s still worth striving towards.
So on Friday this white, Anglo-Saxon Australian woman will get a tiny peek into the world of people with cancer who lose their hair due to chemotherapy, and a little tiny glimpse of what people of other races and skin colour face every day – judgement on physical looks alone. When I think of it like that it’s really a shame it’s taken me 40 years to get around to shaving my head!
For anyone who would like to donate to my eWorld’s Greatest Shav cause, please click this link and it will take you to my donation page. If it happens to take you to a general donation site, you can either search Louise Bibby in the participants or just donate anyway. It doesn’t really matter how the Leukaemia Foundation gets the donation as long as they get it :-).
CFS & ME Expert – The Get Up and Go Guru