A Head Shave for the Homeless: from a Britney Spears moment to Charity Fundraising

by Bee Phillips.

Like a lot of people, Christmas is a tough time for me. In the few months leading up to the celebration, I suffered a very severe bout of depression. It made me question EVERYTHING! It's a common story so I'm not going to describe to you what having no hope or desire to see the future feels like. But dark times can lead to something wonderful. I'm a big believer in the phrase “The universe gives you what you need”.

Whilst at my lowest I was trying to find ways to gain control. Do you remember years ago when Britney Spears appeared in public with a shaved head? There are so many unfounded rumours on why she opted to go bald, from not wanting her hair drug tested as part of an ongoing custody battle to being sick of fans touching her hair. I believe Britney back then was in a similar place to myself at the end of 2019. Questioning herself, her sexuality, her place in the world, her inner circle and their motives. She began to rebel against everything, refusing to conform to the expectations of a "pop icon" (The pop part obviously doesn't apply to me).

Bee Phillips before Head Shave

For me, the idea of shaving my head was an act of defiance. An act of trying to regain control of something I felt I had lost during my darkest moments. For someone whose life has, up until now, been defined by the search to find my place in the gender spectrum, the most sacred part of your image is your hair. The ultimate icon of Maleness & Femaleness. My hair had to go to prove I was in control, not society.

Bee Phillips, After Head Shave

But in reality, it's quite a selfish act. Seeing someone change so radically has a massive impact on those around you. How do they identify with you? Their reaction. Honesty. Can they even mention it? So how can you use such an event to achieve the goal of regaining my life yet make it a somewhat selfless act? Out of this dilemma was born the idea to turn my desire into a fundraising effort for the Local Homeless charity, Stevenage Haven.

Stevenage Haven helps those of us that are on the periphery of societies tolerance. I say “Us” because although I am not homeless myself, we are all a single breath from being in this situation and had I not pulled myself out of the depression before Christmas, it could have so easily spiralled into this unforgiving place. Stevenage Haven gives space to allow people to grow. To develop and re-integrate into society's “normal” (whatever that may be). They help people to face their own demon's and to be at peace with them. They are not a hostel, a bed for the night. They provide a full service, from getting off the streets to having your own home, life, job, friends and most importantly of all health both physically and mentally.

So I decided to take this act of defiance, the act of a middle finger to society and turn it into a money-raising opportunity to aid Stevenage Haven and their wonderful work. We set up a JustGiving page and raised nearly £600 for the charity. My head was shaved by my friend and awesome hairstylist, Steve on Saturday 18th January, witnessed by a few other friends and broadcast LIVE on Facebook for posterity.

If you watch the Facebook video, you will hear me describing who was present, then a pause. That was the moment my rehabilitation began. A moment of realisation that I AM in control. And you are too.

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