Shaving my head has been an idea I’ve been toying with over the years for numerous reasons, some simple and some so complex they’re worthy of a blog post. Back when I was about 16 or 17 years old I shaved my head out of sheer spontaneity, this wasn’t particularly out of character for me then, I was bold and adventurous and dyed my hair different colours, but I shaved it in winter and spent a large amount of time wearing a beanie so I couldn’t really appreciate it. Now, as a mother to 3 children leading a somewhat ordinary life, living in a middle-class area, with a lot more wrinkles and imperfections than I used to have the idea seems somewhat daunting. I’ve lost my ‘edge’ and I’m just, I don’t know, super mumsy? So I’m not sure if I can pull it off anymore but boy am I ready to be free. Today, I’m going to tell you exactly why I’m shaving my head for charity on Wednesday 12th June, even if I do feel this way.
To Help Put an End to Gender Stereotypes
For as long as I can remember I’ve always been treated as pretty before I’ve been treated as an actual real-life human being. My brain, my emotional and physical strength, and my capabilities have all been pretty much questioned or ignored simply because I’m female. And, of course, this feedback has been mainly from men. From assumptions like being too physically weak to hold a 10kg delivery despite my muscular frame, to not being taken seriously at university when specialising in a male-dominated field because I ‘must have slept with someone in order to get where I was and achieve the things I was achieving’ – I have never been classed as credible in society due to my gender. These incidents have been happening since primary school and the scars have cut me deep, and I know I’m not alone either. So many women around me have similar stories to tell.
I’m ready for a change, it’s time for me to reclaim beauty standards for myself and on my own terms, this is my choice and I can’t wait to feel a sense of freedom and empowerment from buzzing away society’s shackles.
In society, changing your hair is seen as a vehicle of transformation, and in the media, these choices are often seen as being symbolic. Our hair and the way we look is a huge part of popular culture and fashion. Just by going against the standards of feminity that society has set for us is seen as an act of rebellion. I know that just by shaving my head (without people knowing I’m raising money for charity) that assumptions will instantly be made. It might be that people think I’m having an emotional breakdown and mentally unstable, I’m now lesbian, I’m a raging man-hating feminist (even though feminists don’t hate men, and yes I am one), or that I’m really ill.
Raising 2 daughters, one being a teenager, I feel that more than ever it’s really important to help them to see that they are more than their hair or outer beauty. That they can really achieve anything that they want to, that their talents, brains, wits, and strength are what make them beautiful and valuable to society. I never want them to feel what I have felt or that traditional beauty feminine standards are something important to reach for.
When I asked Anya what she thought of me shaving my head she said “You won’t be as pretty anymore.” which just solidifies everything I have said above, even at age 5 she’s already believing that how long your hair reflects how beautiful you are. I’m a huge believer that your true self will always shine through from the inside regardless of what the outside looks like and always tell my kids that no matter how beautiful you look on the outside if you aren’t a nice person people will see you as ugly no matter what. Which is exactly what I said to her after she said that. We then looked at lots of different photos of bald women and within a few seconds, she was asking to click on certain photos because the woman was so beautiful. It really shows that our children are the future, it’s our job to instil the right views from an early age. Children aren’t born hateful or judgemental, they’re taught to be that way by society. I’m hoping that through my blog and by educating my children I can help towards ending these harmful gender stereotypes. Without an open conversation on this topic, I can’t see how people can move forward in society.
Reclaiming My Beauty
I’m ready for a change, it’s time for me to reclaim beauty standards for myself and on my own terms, this is my choice and I can’t wait to feel a sense of freedom and empowerment from buzzing away society’s shackles. But with that excitement comes a lot of fear – it’s scary to not be what is deemed as pretty because our worth as women is forever measured in society by how pretty we are but I know that I don’t want or have to be your kind of pretty and that my hair doesn’t define who I am as a person. There’s something so pure about seeing a woman with a shaved head like she’s laid everything bare, she’s there telling you who she really is and there’s nothing to hide. She’s truly open and vulnerable to everyone and that’s such an innocent and beautiful thing to me.
At the end of the day I know that this is just hair, it can grow back, and when I’m on my death bed I won’t be thinking back wishing I was ‘prettier’, skinnier, more tanned, or whatever other bullshit that may enter the majority of our lady brains
Will taking the clippers to my head make me any stronger? Is it a sign of strength to do so? I don’t think it is. I do, however, think it’s a great way of stripping away everything I have been hiding behind, dropping the huge weight of society’s expectations. Embracing that vulnerability and my ‘imperfections’ will most likely make me feel a different kind of strength but in the non-traditional sense. For me, the women that have lost their hair to cancer treatment and alopecia are truly the strong ones. They didn’t have a choice to lose their hair, they weren’t ready to go against the grain, and for this, I am grateful to be able to make this choice for myself when I have decided that I am ready.
So yes, naturally I’m paranoid but more than anything I’m just so excited (cue The Pointer Sisters). At the end of the day I know that this is just hair, it can grow back, and when I’m on my death bed I won’t be thinking back wishing I was ‘prettier’, skinnier, more tanned, or whatever other bullshit that may enter the majority of our lady brains. I ‘ll be thinking about how I wished I’d helped more people, how I enjoyed every day as it came and didn’t let negativity or depression overcome me. Of course I’m expecting negative reactions as well as positive and the sadly inevitable situation of being fetishised but in the long run boy will it be worth it!
When’s It Happening?
That’s a great question! The head shaving is going down on Wednesday the 12th June 2019 at 10:00 BST and you can join me on Instagram live, which will be my first time ever going live or taking a pair of clippers to my own head so it will be super fun I’m sure. I’m pretty shy in real life so to just rock up and let you all into my life for an hour is going to be more daunting than the actual head shaving itself but please do come and say hi, laugh with me, and tell me what you think about women shaving their heads and gender equality! Maybe I’ll even get you guys to pick the place to shave first and create some funny hairstyles along the way! I’ll be leaving the donate link in my bio for a day or so, so there will be plenty of opportunities to donate.
Because this personal journey for me is all about female empowerment and ending gender stereotypes I couldn’t think of a more fitting charity than The Fawcett Society. The Fawcett Society is the UK’s leading membership charity fighting for gender equality and women’s rights in all settings; be that at work, home, or in public life. They believe in diversity and equality for all and I feel that their beliefs are directly in line with my own. The Fawcett Society dates all the way back to 1866 when Millicent Fawcett dedicated her life to the peaceful campaign for women’s suffrage. To find out more about the organisation’s amazing history click here.
Over the years The Fawcett Society has managed to persuade the Government to require large employers to report on their gender pay gap, including bonuses. They were also a key player in lobbying for the Equal Pay Act and Sex Discrimination Act, AND they even secured the Sex Discrimination (Amendment) Act in 2002, permitting the use of all-women shortlists for political parties selecting candidates, and ensuring greater representation of women in politics. They consistently continue to campaign and raise awareness, helping society to make huge leaps in progress, and as a mother, and a woman, I am so grateful for this.
If you’d like to help girls and women across the country live a fairer life in society, without their gender holding them back, please, please, please donate to my Just Giving page. If you’re donating from outside of the UK be sure to give this a little read to ensure that you don’t end up paying a currency conversion fee.
DISCLAIMER: All photos used are not my own (and sadly not of me) they are free stock photos taken by the super talented Charry Jin so go check out her work!