Hair for Hope

my gavel speech for project 2 :)

fault not what was written at night,
in an hour’s test of skill and might;
for tis the time when thoughts take flight,
and nary linger to shed new light.

Today, I want to talk about something alllll of you have, and another something that I hope all of you have. It’s hair, and hope. *gesture: left hand right hand* Yes, I would like to talk about hair… for hope.

Hair for Hope has come and gone. And unlike the hair on our heads which have grown longer and more distinct, our memories of the event have likely faded away into the depths of our subconsciousness.

Today I’d like to revive these memories with a discussion on WHY these undoubtedly brave shavees shaved, and how we can ride on an interesting trend that has popped up as a result of this.

Before I start though, I’d really like to salute the shavees for taking the leap to do something many people shudder to think about. Shaving is a risk – you risk sunburns on your head; you risk the occasional odd stare from a member of public who doesn’t know any better… and for the girls, you risk being in an awkward social situation and not having your veil of hair to hide behind. But as Psychology Today wrote in an article, taking risks is the key to happiness and I genuinely believe this to be true.

Moving on to the topic proper. First and foremost, some students and some friends I know shave because they have personal experiences to associate this event with, and to them, this transcends their physical bodies. Shaving is an outstanding statement, and they believe it is a statement that will best serve their cause. Others, may not have the personal factor, but equally nobly trust in the cause and want to be forerunners in ridding society of this crippling stereotype against baldness. These are the respectable people which spring to mind every time we think of HFH, the very people who are the lifeblood that sustain this movement through the years.

But it is also undeniable that there is a certain percentage of people who shave… you know, just because. *shrug* For the thrill, for the fun, for the “#YOLO Swag”, even for the free haircut.

The day HFH was conducted in school, like so many other curious and awed spectators, I dashed down to the ISH right after school. There of course, I saw Rafflesians both girls and guys shaving for the cause they believed in… then I saw this little family of boys. *gesture different heights* A little boy, a medium boy, and a big boy (okay the big boy was the father). They lined up rather orderly. When it was their turn, the little one clambered up the chair, and sat by solemnly while his little hair vanished beneath the razor, then hopped off the chair and skipped off happily. And as I stood there, straining to see above the crowd, I wondered if 5 was perhaps too young an age to learn about the true meaning behind HFH. Was it just another free haircut?

The good, bad and “ugly”… Most of what I’ve been saying so far is only my personal experience, so yesterday I decided to crunch the actual numbers to uncover their statistical story. In 2012, there were altogether 6,647 HFH shavees including satellite events like those in our school. Given a total Singapore population of 5 million 184 thousand… that’s about 0.1% of the population. That’s alright.

How does Raffles compare? In a population of 2,400 students though, Raffles has had more than 200 shavees. That’s a stunning 10%. 10%! We at Raffles are mathematically, a hundred times more likely to shave than the average person on the street. In other words, throw a stone in Junction 8 and you may hit a shavee, throw one in Orchard Road… chances are, nahhh.

What an interesting phenomenon this is. The reasons are aplenty, and all of you are probably coming up with them even as you listen, but on my part, I would like to attribute it to the idea of mutual encouragement, a shared vision and perhaps a dash of peer pressure. These factors are especially prominent and significant in a school like ours.

But more than getting people to shave, could these same factors be the catalysts that spur huge communities on to do something good? I think, yes. Hair for Hope has shown us the power that mutual encouragement and pressure wields in communities like ours. It is now up to us to realise this magnificent potential and ride it to the advantage of the greater good. Real problems still exist in our wonderfully clean and green country, problems that we can solve.

So today I encourage you to maybe spare some thought about this interesting point and its consequences, maybe all of us here will (to the great delight of school) be thinkers, leaders and pioneers.

Last I checked, would like to thank you for “making a bald statement”. Today, I’d like to thank you for listening, and challenge you to think beyond the fuzz covering our heads, and maybe make a statement of your own. It doesn’t have to be a bald one.

Thank you.


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