Thursday, 29 March 2018

Absolutely buzzing.

I did the thing. I had my head shaved. I now have a very fuzzy, freshly buzzed situation atop my perfectly shaped skull. My scar is 100% visible, and I am now seeing it in full after years of just seeing little fragments of it that would reveal themselves when I brushed my hair, or put Bio Oil on the little line of pink that used to protrude alongside my ear. There's no hiding it now. 


(Photo: Erin Veness)


It was an unusual Friday. I was extra aware of my hair all day. Every time I moved, I'd feel it; sliding down my neck and under my coat collar, tangling in my rings when I ran my fingers through it, flying across my face in the slightest breeze. The night before I was waking every time I rolled over in bed, my hair pulling across the pillow.

I made sure I enjoyed washing it for the last time. I took time soaping it up with shampoo, ran my fingers through it when I smoothed on the conditioner, and stood for a few seconds longer under the shower, my head tilted back and eyes closed, as it all rinsed off. 

The party happened in the wonderful Cake Room, Hastings, who were so helpful and such lovely hosts. As my friends cut chunks of my hair off, I sipped my perfect lemon and whisky cocktail quite calmly. I made jokes and encouraged guests; 'come on, you know you want to! You haven't had a go yet!' Precious little Lila excitedly grabbed the scissors and chopped a chunk off - she gave it back to me, politely saying 'no thank you' when I told her she could keep it if she wanted. The shaving was about to commence when I realised nobody had cut off my fringe - I yelled 'WAIT! Someone has to chop off my fringe! I've always had a fringe, its removal is the biggest deal surely?!' And luckily the gorgeous Madame Stargazy (aka Amanda) jumped in and dealt with that! 



(Photo: Erin Veness)


I shouted about the charities I was raising for, asking my friends to empty their pockets and chuck change into the glass jars I'd strategically placed around the room, as the lovely Chris did the shaving. I asked everyone to take as many photos as their phones would allow - and then I spent the following day being sent the most amazing images of my hair disappearing, left in lilac tufts on the floor. I could see my smile stretching wider and wider as the clippers moved across my skull, and my hands touching the near bare skin I had probably never touched before. 

My hair's never been a big fuss for me. Since I was at primary school, the most I've ever done with it is scrape it back into a simple ponytail, or not put it completely through the tie and leave it as a half-hearted bun. Over the years I've back-combed it, had it braided on holidays with friends, straightened it, curled it, and of course I've dyed it every colour imaginable – except green. Although it actually went very greenish after a few weeks in the sun over Christmas without top-ups of purple...

The dyeing was always a way of expressing myself. Mum always did it, ever since I came home from school whingeing about my ‘grey’ hair – which later realised was just a particularly ashy blonde. Back then it would be all kinds of brown; warm, cool, blackish. I experimented with Lush henna – with varied results. At uni, my qualified hairdresser friends would dye it in their sinks and trim my fringe in their kitchens. 



(Photo: Erin Veness)


Whenever I've been ill, and confined to a hospital bed, my hair has suffered just as much as my body. After a week in hospital, it would grow matted and actually darken in colour; grease would slip through it, making it slick at first but then it'd dry and stick firmly in its shape  that being a haphazard birds nest on one side, and super smooth, flattened in sleep, on the other. I'd itch my head as I talked with nurses, self-conscious not because of the staples in my head, the bruises on my arms or the holes in my tummy, but because my hair was such a dirty mess. I remember hating how it made me feel, and how silly it seemed being so concerned about it. 

I’d yank it back into a knot whenever I got too hot – I’d let it down when I needed warmth around my ears. I always liked running one hand across the top of it when it got too flat; I’d peer in my rear view mirror and push my fringe around while sitting in traffic, and absent-mindedly stretch my plastic hair tie backwards and forwards around my wrist while talking with friends. I'd jokingly toss it from side to side when delivering a particularly sassy point. 

Since the shaving, I’ve had something like phantom limb feelings. I keep thinking to myself, I’m a bit cold, I should take my hair down...and then I remember. I’ve stopped wearing my plastic hair tie around my wrist. I’m not really sure if I should be washing my hair just as regularly or not. My head gets so cold at night; I've experimented with wearing full-length pyjama pants, long sleeves and socks to bed, with varying results. And sometimes, I still reach for the hair clip in the bathroom when I go to wash my face - then I laugh and try to fasten it to my bristles. Which are growing awfully fast, by the way...?! I tried to book a 'tidy up' cut or shave with a barber friend online, and am baffled by all the different treatments you can get in those places. Back and sides? Cut and finish? Skin fade?! It's a whole new world. 



(Photo: Erin Veness)


Anyway...I love it. That's the truth. Amongst all these messy thoughts, and the lifestyle changes – the ones I knew about, and some I never expected – is a huge, overwhelming happiness. It wakes with me every morning as I look at myself in the bathroom mirror; eyes puffy and still full of sleep, skin bare and needing refreshing, but the grey fuzz only slightly mussed. It's the feeling of relief in removing woollen hats as I step inside a building, or onto a warm train – and relishing the reactions I get from complete strangers. 


My scar is stunning. Striking. 'A statement,' said my counsellor. 

I walked through London Bridge station the other night, travelling home from an eventful evening, and I can honestly say I felt utterly beautiful. I actually wanted to turn heads; I wanted everyone to look at me and admire my perfect head, I wanted to shock and stun and excite complete strangers. I wanted everyone to see me for me, and love it. Because I really do feel the most myself, right here and now, with this fantastic new 'do (or lack of?). 

Now brb, gonna stroke my fuzzy head for an hour or so, and then twirl happily while 'This Is Me' plays on repeat...

You can still donate to my JustGiving page for The Brain Tumour Charity!

And I'd really appreciate it if you could take 2 minutes to vote for me to win the charity's Influencer of the Year Award - the voting closes Saturday 31st!

And thank you to everyone who donated to my local charity; I was able to donate £510 to Counselling Plus on the day of my last session there. It felt fantastic!

1 comment

  1. Your feelings of beautiful only do great things to amplify your beauty. You're just one of those people who seem to radiate authenticity, and it's hard not to be drawn to that! I can imagine it's definitely an adjustment since hair is such a big part of our lives, one I think many of us (me especially) take for granted! It'll be fun to see what habits you develop as a result of having a shaved style though! 🖤

    Asti || atypicalnarrative.com

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