Life Without Hair

Well; it happened, I now have no hair; bar a fuzzy felt cap of soft ginger prickles, left behind from the evening of my birthday on Friday. As promised, prolifically on social media and via this post here, my friends armed themselves with a pair of hair clippers and some kitchen scissors and "expertly" removed my lovely bob, and lots of you were generous enough to sponsor me and help me to raise lots of vital monies for one of my dearest charities, Mind. So far I've raised over £250 for the mental health charity, which will help to keep their Infoline available to those facing mental health problems, as well as funding campaigns to raise awareness of mental health issues. This is absolutely vital work, which I'm honoured to encourage. 

There's no reason that you can't donate now though - there is no ticking clock, and any further funds raised will still go towards the year of fundraising that I'm throwing myself in to. It couldn't be easier either, all you have to do is text my unique fundraising code "ASHL96" followed by either £1, £3, £5 or £10, depending on how much you'd like to donate, and that's that, your sponsorship will be included in the total raised. If you'd prefer not to text, or you're feeling uber generous and would like to sponsor more than £10, you can do so using your credit/debit card, or your PayPal account, here. Every £1 raised will make a difference to my overall happiness, so if you've been sweet enough to comment or think about how "brave" I am, maybe just add a sneaky quid to the total?

On that subject, I don't consider myself particularly brave at all! It's hair, hair that grows back (although now I kind of don't want it to!) What is brave, and part of the reason that I chose Mind as my charity of the year this year, is facing mental health problems head on, and tackling them with the courage and ferocity that people do, every day. 

As I write this, there are new Mothers battling the crippling guilt, confusion and panic that comes with post natal depression, an illness which has touched a number of lives close to my own. I can't imagine the pain and anguish that must come with being unable to fully enjoy the first precious weeks, months, or even years, with a much wanted child, because of a dreadful illness that prevents a Mother from being able to step in to the role with the ease and joy that she was promised. To admit, to yourself, to friends, partners, or health professionals, that you're finding it difficult to cope, is brave beyond words.  

As I write this there are beautiful, and I mean physically drop.dead.beautiful, men and women who are unable to look in a mirror without tears stinging their eyes and a feeling of self loathing swelling inside them. Body dysmorphic disorder, and it's "sister" illnesses, including a vast array of different forms of eating disorder, are all almost impossible to understand to those of us on the outside. A true silent illness, BDD leaves someone with similar guilt and confusion to that of PND, being told how wonderful you should feel (in this case, beautiful, slim, gorgeous, pretty, stunning, attractive etc.) and actually feeling entirely the opposite. 

These are just a teeny tiny snap shot of just some of the mental health problems facing real people at this precise moment in time, people's friends, people's parents, people's children, people's siblings, people's boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives, and lovers, people's colleagues, people's next door neighbours, just bloody normal people, facing insurmountable battles - and those, are the brave people. All I did was drink a bottle of Bollinger and get my friend Dave to start shaving lines down the middle of my head... 

This isn't to say that I don't face my own mental illness, a history of, and an ongoing fight with, but that's for a different post perhaps; however, I'd much rather people said that I was brave for that fight, than for shaving my hair! 

The idea to shave my hair as part of my fundraising attempt came to me as I tried to think of something that people would show a genuine interest in. I know that people were desperate to see photographs after the hair came off, and I get that; women with no hair are relatively rare in the grand scheme of things, and I'm generally considered to be someone who is somewhat bothered by how she looks. I also think, symbolically, this made something very visual, from a plight which is largely invisible. Mental health problems are, more often than not, not particularly obvious. Of course we may be able to recognise someone suffering from a very advanced eating disorder, or notice the signs that someone may have been self-harming as a means to cope with their own illness, but generally speaking, a majority of those facing mental health problems, aren't obvious. Depression, anxiety, even post traumatic stress disorder, forms of schizophrenia, body dysmorphic disorder, bi polar disorder, and I'd go so far as to say that a number of cases of multiple personality disorder, are often less than apparent in general "passing". We are often so quick to judge people based on appearance (and this is human nature, it doesn't necessarily make us terrible people!) that we fail to see the person that they are, and often won't recognise or even consider the possibility that someone close to us may be unwell, because physically they look bloody fantastic. 

As my birthday got ever closer I have to admit, I started to get really anxious about shaving my hair, and this was purely down to vain self interest. It suddenly occurred to me that I might look horrible without hair, that my boyfriend might suddenly find me revolting (thus disproving everything I believed to be true about our relationship), or that everywhere I would go people would point and laugh at me (unlikely, really). Of course, the closer my birthday came, the more people who knew about my plans were keen to ask if I was excited/nervous/ready, and the more I wished people would stop mentioning it! 

Today, however, I jumped on the bus to go over to my best friend's house, without even wearing a hat. I stood at the bus stop, leaning against a fence, reading a book, fuzzy bald head fully exposed to the elements, and honestly, I felt fine - borderline great. I got on the bus, and bar a few odd looks from pensioners, felt absolutely fantastic. It's a bizarre form of liberating, not having hair. 

Last night, 24 hours after having all of my hair shaved off, I slipped in to a short black cocktail dress and a pair of killer heels and attended my friend's charity boxing match, hair free, an event I'd previously intended to wear a wig to. In a room full of girls dressed to impress, men swaggering around with pints in hand, and, well, people, I confidently and very happily spent the evening bald. The dynamic that follows you about when you have no hair is odd. Odd but good. I don't know whether people assume I'm suffering from a physical illness, or just a bit "punky", but I've honestly had nothing, by way of an uncomfortable human response, from anyone, even a function room full of drunk people. Part of me can't believe I had the balls to walk in to the room, order drinks at the bar, generally have a lovely time, without my hair - part of me can't remember having hair - and it's only been two days.

This experience has totally revised my understanding of how we relate to ourselves in terms of our physical appearance and I'll write a whole separate post about that for those who are interested. Now though, sitting here with my lovely bald head, I feel more comfortable, confident, sexy and generally positive about myself than I have in absolutely ages - which is wonderful. 

Thank you so much to everyone who's already sponsored me, if you are able to do so, please do, it really gives me such a buzz every time I see the total raised bump up! Thank you also to those who've been unable to donate at this time, but who've offered words of encouragement and good wishes, that is just as appreciated!


  1. Love this blog post. See you in 2 Tuesdays time at the good shed xxx

  2. Wow! What an amazing and brave thing to do! You look just as beautiful with no hair! Actually really suits you!
    Miss Tulip x
    The Thrifty Magpies Nest