A legend of a Kiwi is shaving her hair to raise money for ‘Gumboot Friday’ and ‘I Am Hope’.
It’s not just any old head of hair Jess Olsen is shaving though, rather on top of her head lies dreadlocks that she’s been growing for thirteen years. Dreadlocks that are part of her identity and that many in her community have come to know her by.
After hearing Mike King’s emotional plea on The Rock earlier this month, Jess decided she would cut her hair to raise money for the mental health cause.
Jess herself has been affected by the lack of support available to those struggling in this country, telling me she lost three close friends in their late teens and early twenties.
“Thinking about the potential of loved ones grieving yet another suicide - that’s where I’m drawing the courage from. That’s what helps keep my personal loss in perspective,” she told The Rock.
“My locks feel so much a part of me, I never thought I’d be without them. I’m really nervous because I’ve attached my identity with them and that’s gonna be a huge thing to overcome.”
But the possibility of helping out Mike King’s cause far outweighs the anxieties Jess feels towards her post-dreadlock life.
“I think ‘I Am Hope’/‘Gumboot Friday’ is one of the best initiatives I’ve seen that align with what change I want to see.”
“Being able to link this huge personal step with a cause that I’m passionate about, and bringing awareness to our community and positive change for our tamariki is an honour really,” she said before explaining what she hopes to accomplish with her fundraising campaign.
“Focusing on what gains we can get out of making my dread shave public, getting conversations happening around mental health and raising funds for whanau that need it.”
As the owner of a bar and coffee shop, Jess told The Rock that she’s lucky enough to be in a position where she can talk with a range of people every day, and they all know her for her locks. This unique position she holds confirmed to her how the dialogue around mental health needs to increase in Aotearoa.
“I’ve always been a passionate and active community member, and as someone that has been on the roller coaster of mental health I think it’s an extremely important issue. We need to talk about it, normalise it, and help our fellow humans around us.”
If you want to donate to Jess’ fundraiser, you can go to her Givealittle page here. She plans to have the haircut this Friday (the 2nd), but donations will remain open until February next year.
As to what will happen with the dreads once they’re off her head, Jess said she had a few different plans for them.
“I think it would be hilarious to sew my chopped dreads into a beanie that I can still wear so I can prank people,” she told The Rock, before sharing some more sentimental plans.
“I’d say I will probably give some to some of my loved ones with dreads that will add them into their dreads (it’s a fairly common dread thing) and have a little burial ceremony for the remaining and plant a pōhutukawa.”
Jess is a true deadset, Kiwi legend. Not much more needs to be said.