About six years ago, during a routine haircut, my hairdresser Sarah said, “You know, your hair is long enough to donate to Locks of Love – you should really think about it.” I contemplated this idea, immediately flashing back to my most traumatic haircuts on record – both of which explain why I had long hair in the first place.
- The first was a haircut I decided to give to myself back in the late 80s when I was four years old. I distinctly remember, in a rare unsupervised moment, taking the orange-handled Fiskar’s scissors out of the drawer in the kitchen, cutting a chunk of my hair off, and throwing it in the trash. It was very impulsive, haphazard, and I immediately knew that I was going to be in trouble. I slipped the scissors back in the drawer and went about my business, racked with guilt. Later that night, we went to my grandparent’s house and my mom’s father, Pop Pop, immediately noticed something was off. Stationed in his recliner, he barked, “Suzie, get over here! Something looks weird with your hair!” I stayed an arm’s length away but he immediately found me out and my parents were not very pleased. There was no choice but to get it fixed by a real hairdresser. I was relieved that I didn’t have to hide my handiwork any longer, but it did end up being my first (and second, I suppose) truly memorable haircut.
- Cut to 1997, when I was 12 years old. My mom and I went to the hairdresser together – he cut her hair, and when it was my turn I asked him to take a couple of inches off. He must have thought I said, “Please, cut all my hair off and make me look like a boy!” because moments later, half of it was gone and there was nothing I could do. I should mention that last thing I wanted, on the cusp of teenage-hood when there were plenty of other physical changes to deal with, was to look like a boy. He calmly apologized and finished butchering while I sat weeping in the chair, reminded every time I looked in the wall-to-wall mirrors that not only was the haircut unflattering, but crying was generally not a good look for me, either. When he was done, he made the mistake of hesitantly asking me what I thought. I escalated from weeping to sobbing and he had his answer. My mother looked on from the reception area, in what I can only assume was complete horror, and ushered me out of the salon as quickly as possible. When we got home, she noticed that her haircut was way off also, suggested that perhaps he had been under the influence, and we never went back.
OK, back to 2006. My hair was long, and I liked it that way – cutting my hair short had not crossed my mind for almost a decade. But Sarah had got me thinking – maybe I was being a bit selfish about this whole hair thing. After all, there were a lot of people out there who can’t grow their own hair and were fighting bigger battles than I was on a daily basis. Why shouldn’t I donate it? And with that, I gave up control and agreed to let Sarah chop all of my hair off. I even told her to do whatever she wanted with what was left. Take that, Type A personality!
Since then, I’ve made been regularly donating my hair to Locks of Love and most recently, to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths program (thanks for the tip, Liz!). I’ve come to feel quite strongly about this – it’s no secret in our society that appearances matter and I can’t even begin to imagine the emotional and physical toll that patients undergoing cancer treatments experience. If I can help make even the slightest bit of difference for someone who has lost their hair and help others find better balance, I want to. It helps to put a lot of things in perspective – in retrospect, throwing a hissy fit about a bad haircut seems pretty immature.
How to help
Donating anything you have more than enough of is always appreciated by someone. If you’re not ready to undergo a drastic haircut, there are plenty of other ways to help those in need.
- Check out your local American Red Cross chapter and donate blood or volunteer at your next local blood drive – there is always a need for blood donations to help during surgeries, after accidents, or more.
- Bring canned or dry goods to your local food bank – there may be something in your pantry that you could spare, or consider buying double of whatever canned goods you usually purchase and donating half.
- Donate school supplies to local schools – teachers are always reaching into their own pockets to buy supplies. Look around your house or office – extra binders, pens, paper, and craft supplies can go a long way.
- Volunteer your time – there are lots of ways to find opportunities – check out serve.gov or Volunteer Match for places near you.