This summer I cut off 20 inches of my hair to raise money and awareness for the charity womankind Worldwide. The thing that had inspired it was reading about the suggestion by a politician in Zimbabwe that forcibly shaving women’s heads would stop HIV and AIDS. Shocked by how crazy a policy idea that was, I began thinking about hair and head shaving and got really into it.
On the one hand, it’s a weapon in conflict and a punishment and then on the other side it is a symbol of feminism and boldness. As am ambassador for the excellent charity Womankind Worldwide, this led to me cutting almost all of my hair off (and making a little video about it). I didn’t even consider shaving my head at that point. Cutting my hair seemed like a big deal. But over the months as I have got used to having short hair and started to understand more about transience and attachment, I decided that I would do a live head shave and really make the point personally that I was exploring.
So five days ago in front of an audience, I had my head shaved…
The photo above is currently the only one that I have from the night but we will soon have a video to share. The actual event was really very strange as you might imagine, but surprisingly moving. I couldn’t see in a mirror so was just watching the audience who at times were laughing and joking as my hair went through various stages including a mohican. Then suddenly they all went deadly silent and just stared at me as the shearers had finished their work. It was a real shock when I looked in the mirror and also when I saw the big scar on my head for the first time.
With a shaved head there is no hiding. To make the experience even more challenging, the morning after the head shave, I boarded a plane to San Francisco to attend a conference and do some further work in the states. I think being in London with a shaved head would have been really fun (although very cold) as I know so many people and would have enjoyed seeing their faces and letting them have a little rub of the head. Being somewhere that people know me as having hair also provides the opportunity to talk more about the reasons why I did it and raise further awareness for Womankind Worldwide. Instead I have really been experiencing what it is like to just be a girl with a shaved head as I have been going about my business out here surrounded by new people.
This has been in some ways difficult as I am getting used to how I am perceived with this haircut. I have been embracing it and feel great about having done it. It has been a liberating and freeing experience. Although I do still get a shock when I look in the mirror and certainly feel the elements in a much more forceful way. I have been surprised by the number of women that have come to talk to me sharing that they have always wanted to shave their heads too. As somebody that never had that urge, but did it anyway, my advice is to do it (and to do it for Womankind Worldwide).
And if you have thought differently about your relationship with you hair from what I have done, and are not ready to shave your own, please make a donation to Womankind Worldwide. I have reached my official fundraising target, but further donations will make a significant difference to the partner organisations that Womankind Worldwide support.