Soldiers do it as a rite of passage and to show disciplined conformity.

Monks and priests do it to signal their renunciation of worldly attachments.

Biblical characters did it as a mourning custom and in sorrow for their sins.

Prisoners have it done to them as a punishment and a humiliation.

The cultural significance of head-shaving is rich and complex.

My colleague Melanie Hawgood and I recently announced that we would be ‘buzzing’ our heads to raise money for two charities that are important to us.

The Archway Foundation and Amaka Beautiful Child (ABC) have worked in partnership in the past to alleviate the hurt of loneliness through engagement with story telling and the arts.

Reactions have been overwhelmingly positive, but mainly on the grounds that for a woman to shave her head is considered perplexing and scary.

Most of our women friends have said: “Wow, I could never do that.”

Everyone says: “Won’t you be cold?”

Why is it considered brave for a woman to shave her head, but simply normal for a man?

Nobody feels sorry for bald men in the winter, but everyone’s feeling sorry for us.

Androgyny is somehow threatening.

Interesting, isn’t it, that in movies baldness is associated with strong female characters. Think of Demi Moore in GI Jane and Sigourney Weaver in Alien.

And in the music world, Sinead O’Connor is famously and fabulously non-conformist – not least in her protest against oppressive manifestations of religion.

For us, buzzing our heads is a symbolic act.

It is an act of solidarity with those who are distressed, lonely and isolated because of stigma, trauma, mental or physical ill health or poverty. It also coincides with the launch on January 19 of a new publication from the Diocese of Oxford and The Archway Foundation entitled, ‘Loneliness: Accident or Injustice’.

In a society where many are left depressed and alone because they are written off as not good enough, we believe passionately in the unique inner loveliness of every person.

We want to celebrate that by subverting common notions of what makes us beautiful.

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