Thursday, March 21, 2013

Bald and [hopefully] beautiful

On Friday last week, one of the girls in the year above me at uni chopped off my ponytail before taking clippers to my head and bringing my previously beautiful – if I do say so myself - long reddy-brown hair down to a number one buzz cut.

The Leukaemia Foundation’s World Greatest Shave is something that I have wanted to do since I was  15, when I watched one of my beautiful friends shave her luscious locks off at school. But things came up that meant I “couldn’t” do it… school formal in year 12, first year of university (my logic was that I would need to have hair when I met new people), my coming of age photo in Japan, etc, etc. It was really just a string of lame excuses to justify my irrational attachment to the dead keratinised cells that were making winter nights even colder and summer days a sweaty hell. To prevent myself from putting it off for yet another year, I signed up for this year’s shave as soon as I got back from my trip to Japan in late December. I figured that by committing to it early, I would be giving myself time to get used to the idea – as well as preventing me from getting cold feet and running away from yet another opportunity to do something simple to benefit those in need. I know firsthand how cancer can affect the lives of not just the individuals who are sick, but their families as well, and I felt as if it were time to reach out to others in worse situations than my own family. By the time Friday came around, I was more excited than nervous and if I am to be honest (and a wee bit crude), not having any hair feels freaking great

With donations still trickling in, I’ve collected just over $2200 for the Leukaemia Foundation. Now this is what has been so humbling and overwhelming for me… nearly a hundred people have given money to see my 50cm of hair disappear and their generosity astounds me. Never before did I think that the simple act of shaving my head had the potential to motivate people to give money to charity. When I was younger, current affair programmes on television would show other little girls my age who would cut off their ponytails to raise money for charity but the thing that struck me with these girls was that they all went to private schools. Having gone to a private school myself, I knew that the majority of the thousands of dollars raised by those girls came from the parents. Yeah that’s right, no-one ever said I was cynical… I suppose what I’m trying to say is that what made this whole experience so special for me was the fact that I had my peers’ support. Most of the donations I collected came from my new university friends. Seeing as we are going to be spending the next four years in each other’s pockets, it reassures me to think I’m going to be surrounded by such generous, supportive and encouraging individuals.

However, it would not be honest of me if I did not admit to being worried about what I would look like with a shaved head. It’s all well and good to raise money for charity and yada yada but I am a teenage girl living in a first world country in the 21st century. I would be kidding myself if I said I didn’t give a damn about physical appearances. It also doesn’t help that my self-esteem is pretty much zero to begin with and that my mum was telling me I would look bad since I’m a girl and “girls aren’t supposed to shave their heads.” Luckily though, being a c-section baby meant that my head wasn’t ridiculously squashed during the parturition process and subsequently, my adult head is an alright shape. Phew. And for all the drama leading up to the event, Mum seems pleased with my new do, which is possibly the biggest relief of all.  Her and Dad have taken to calling me “little monk” which I secretly love (two years ago I decided I was going to become a Buddhist nun and live the rest of my life in a temple, so this is reasonable replacement for now).

All the love and support I’ve received over the last few weeks has been phenomenal and it really helps with someone, such as myself, that constantly struggles to realise that there are people out there that actually care for them.  I have always been one to doubt myself and, apart from the warm and fuzzy feeling I’ve received from this whole giving-to-charity exercise, the act of shaving my head has given me some much needed confidence, as well as a reminder that my friends are the most precious people in the world and their support is integral to my overall wellbeing.

Gee this turned into some soppy “I love you guys” post.. but seriously. I do. Much love to all you wonderful people. You know who you are :) <3

- Matilda

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