Shorn to Give
Selfie - Life-long learner
Her Inner Light - Play, curiosity and wonder
Her message to women everywhere - “Follow your passion, trust your instincts and don’t hold back.”
Born in Brazil and living across coastal towns, Nicole Zimmerman grew up interested in world travel and cultural immersion. Her first identified passion was travel writing, but long before becoming a writer, Nicole worked in different capacities with women and children. For many years, she supported survivors of violence in women’s shelters and on rape crisis lines and was a women’s self-defense instructor. Specializing in early childhood development, she worked with pregnant teens, teen parents, and their infants and toddlers.
Now Nicole is a writer for a travel company. Nicole has no complaints; she gets to write and lead a financially stable life. But some part of her is always thinking about how she can make a difference. Nicole gets to the heart of the issue: “Working with children and survivors of violence, I got to make an impact in a very real, live way. It was deeply fulfilling work, but I was under-compensated. Such important and necessary work but so undervalued by society.” Nicole evolved to find sustainable, bread and butter work. But she grapples with the gap between soulful and profitable, between meaningful substance and merely subsisting.
Recently, Nicole took a bold step towards closing this gap — she shaved her head. She did it to raise money for childhood cancer research. She did it in honor of Cole who passed away of leukemia at the age of two and in honor of Jackson who is a six-year-old warrior against neuroblastoma. On a spring day under open skies, Nicole took a stand in solidarity with kids fighting cancer. Nearby, while baby lambs tussled and yellow flowers popped upon green pastures, Nicole shed her thick, long, dark locks. The shaving event was organized by St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a nonprofit committed to funding childhood cancer research. Nicole raised over $1600, more than tripling her original goal of $500. A good day’s work that is both soulful and profitable. Generosity continues to flow in and can be shown through the spring of 2018, here. Nicole says, "In what feels to be a perilous era, this was a concrete way I could make a positive impact."
Nicole believes that people were generous about donating to her campaign in part because a woman willing to shave her head carries a weightier significance than for a man to do the same. Hair is a key marker of femininity and beauty and to take an act that defies this marker for a higher cause makes a strong statement. Women receive an abundance of messages throughout life that devalue women’s work and women’s bodies. When women are not seen as important — and when we, men and women, internalize these negative messages — we erode not only gender relations but humanity on the whole. We cut ourselves out of the power and beauty we can bring. In shaving for a children’s cause, Nicole reclaims her feminine sovereignty in the face of conventional achievement and compensation.
Nicole was thoughtful about being HERliographed. Hesitant at first, she said that her bravery doesn't hold a candle to so many heroines, including the mother who has been a donor-shavee half-dozen times to raise funds after her ten-year-old son died of cancer. Nicole also felt that she didn’t do very much to be called heroic. "This was a choice I got to make, which is very different from someone who is powerless in losing their hair for health reasons.” Nicole is humbled by the recognition that while shaving is an empowering act for her, it is not so for those she seeks to honor. She hopes that by sharing her story, others will be inspired to take an act towards closing the gap between making a living and making a difference. She says, “We'll always fall somewhere on the spectrum of greatness when compared to others. In sharing what has been empowering for me I hope to highlight how a small act can make a big impact and to celebrate beauty in all its forms."