I am not one to intentionally stand out from the crowd. I am an introvert and prefer to watch from the side-lines unless I am with a group of people I am really comfortable with. I am more comfortable blending in than attracting the small talk of strangers. Just ask a mum of twins, the owner of a Great Dane or a vintage car driver how many times a day people stop them for a quick chat. We recently made a choice for our family which deviates from what the majority of families do d makes us stand out a bit, we have begun to educate our children at home. It has raised a few eyebrows amongst family and friends but so far I have avoided the questions and small talk of strangers. When out and about during term-time I have found smiling and nodding in response to queries such as ‘No school today?’ does the trick. It is not that I am ashamed of our choice by any means, I just want to get on my way. So, you would think that my appearance would be pretty mainstream. The mumsy look doesn’t really attract much attention after all. You would be right, at least up until this past weekend, when I shaved all my hair off! I went completely and utterly bald. Surrounded by family and friends I had my (anonymous) chin-length hair cut completely off. I was one of many loopy individuals taking part in MacMillan Cancer Support’s Brave the Shave. Some of my tresses were long enough to donate to the Little Princess Trust which provides wigs for children who loose their hair as result of cancer treatment. The rest could have easily stuffed a decent sized cushion, my hair grows THICK! I was supported in this crazy act by my brother who also when bald for the cause and we are delighted with the £900+ that we have raised so far. Our family, like most, has had its fair few run ins with cancer and the support that charities such as Macmillan provide is invaluable. But there was much more to my decision to go bald than just to raise money and awareness. My initial thought on hearing about the challenge was of course ‘No way!’. I am no Jessie J for a start. I’m sure there are cheek bones in there somewhere but they are probably hiding under my second chin. And then there would be all the stares. Bald women are few and far between
My girls are growing up in an extremely image-conscious world. They are inundated with images of women who fit the societal ideal… huge eyes, long hair, tiny waists, round hips and ridiculously long legs adorn their favourite characters and toys. My youngest in particular has always had a thing for princesses with long blond hair. Explaining to a four year old that it is the person inside, not the external wrappings, that we should be judging is not always easy. So I am hoping to lead by example. I am not the most primpted and preened mummy on the block but I am lost without my hair straighteners and wear makeup daily. I wanted my daughters to see that whatever someone looks like, it is what they are like as a person that matters. My youngest was a bit upset with the idea of my drastic hair cut, but she has got used to it now and likes running her hand over my head to see how it is growing back. I am still mummy, no matter what.
It has also come as a reminder to me of a number of things. Firstly, what other people think doesn’t matter. If I am comfortable with myself then the opinions and odd looks of others are unimportant. I surprised myself by walking around the city the day after my shave with no hat. The hat felt itchy, and just looked a bit odd so I went for it. How’s that for standing out in a crowd! It was actually fine and I’m quite good at avoiding eye-contact at the best of times so I have no idea whether eye-brows were raised or not. I haven’t ventured out much closer to home yet though, apart from hanging the washing out. I have no idea what the neighbours will think (Britney Spears moment?) but then it doesn’t matter, right? The second reminder has been that life is short. I have not gone bald due to treatment for cancer, but it does run in my family. There are so many things I want to do in life and the most important one is to be present and here right in the moment, enjoy my children growing and spend as much time with them as possible. I have to say I am enjoying the wash and go showers, without the hair drying and straightening. I am trying to use this extra time wisely. Lastly, it feels good to do something for others sometimes. It is easy to get wrapped up in the day to day stuff of family life, but there is a bigger world out there and not everyone is as fortunate as we are just now.