No more ridiculously expensive imported hair products, no more 80’s hair mousse, no more need for the GBH straightener, no more hair dye…no more hair.
Shaving my head was kinda cool. I felt edgy and like I had joined a hard core feminist movement that had moved on from burning bras. This was liberation at its finest. I felt freed. Truly freed. No longer defined by my unruly wild curly black hair, my hair had in a way defined me and become an identifier. I was accustomed to standing out amongst the other school mums who were mainly straightened blond haired beauties, I was the wog chick at school pick up with mad hair who wasn’t wearing active wear.
Those who didn’t know I was going through chemotherapy would comment how they loved my new look, again probably a vain denial on my part as I thought I looked so damn good. I’m guessing the yellow skin and puffy face might have been a give away but I held my shiny head up high. I had a pretty edgy wardrobe already but I decided to amp it up even further to complete the I’m too cool for hair on my head look. Obviously I looked different, but I still maintained the vibrant matt hot pink and red lipstick colours that had become my trade mark over the years. It’s a Melbourne thing.
I had a night out with friends early on during chemotherapy and I remember bumping into a friend that I hadn’t seen for quite some time. She always effortlessly managed to have a glamorous look about her, anyway this particular night she didn’t have any make up on, her hair was tied back in a simple pony tale and was in active wear… So me being me, said “Ohh my god I didn’t recognise you at all, you look so different!” She turned around to me and quite rightly said, “You didn’t recognise me, are you serious?”
Looking back on my baldness I was really hell bent on never wearing a wig or head scarf which of course I never did. For me I associated the head scarves and wigs as representing a sense of shame about what I was going through. I didn’t ask for my breast to try to kill me, so I wasn’t going to cover up my current state of hairlessness. Having a rebellious nature meant that I was not going to run with what I called the cancer look, I had made up my mind and I didn’t give a shit about being bald. I had a pretty unapologetic attitude about it and probably carried a little chip on my shoulder too.
I remember going to a Look Good Feel Better program which is charity run, they show women going through breast cancer how to apply make up, draw on eyebrows, tie a head scarf around your head so it looks like you have hair under it amongst other beauty tips. They pulled out a few wigs and I was asked to model a wig for the group. Being the complete non conformist that I am I asked if I could model the worst wig on display- the nasty nylon pink wig. I did not want to be part of a cover up, I wanted to put the sting in this operation and have some fun with a very un fun situation. The wigs are hot and itchy and my scalp was extremely painful and sensitive so a wig was not going to work for me anyway. Please don’t get me wrong I don’t want to come across as a total party pooper, I think women should wear wigs if it makes them feel better about themselves. I’m all for trying to look good and feel better in what feels like a mostly crap time. I too drew on my eyebrows and used black eyeliner on my lids to compensate for missing eyelashes. I was just pissed off that not once during this group did any of the facilitators talk about how you don’t need to cover up to feel better. I wanted to hear that we all looked beautiful with our shiny bald heads. We were a group of young dynamic, creative and diverse individuals who just needed a little esteem boost, to be told that we should be proud of the way we look. To be told to go easy on ourselves for our ongoing struggles and for our hair loss. I wanted to tell every woman that they were stunning and beautiful just the way they were…. and I did.
I did go home with a huge stash of high end designer make up and skin care products donated by these luxury brands. I was such a pain in the arse, I even asked where the organic products were and the natural oils and moisturises. I wasn’t keen on the products that would poison me further. A few days later and still on my high horse I got a call from a person in head office from the program, someone had suggested that I would be a great model for their advertising campaign. Unfortunately that woman had called the wrong person. I was not interested in being photographed in a wig to support women with breast cancer, I would only be part of their photo shoot if I could wear my own bald head. Lets just say that the conversation didn’t go so well, and I wasn’t offered a spot in the shoot.