Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Why I Chose to Donate My Hair to Children With Hair Loss

To say it like my students might, "I did a thing today." Today, the thing I did was get a drastic haircut. But that was not all! I also contributed to a future wig for a child who has medically-related hair loss.

I was the first born and the only child for many years, and as a result, my mom always made sure all of my needs were met (and typically, exceeded). Perhaps one of her greatest achievements was the regularity with which she scheduled my haircuts. I had bangs up until fourth grade, and I imagine that their upkeep was the main reason I took such frequent trips to the beauty shop. Nevertheless, my hair also stayed at or around my shoulders for much of my childhood because I was getting trims to my hair in addition to my bangs.

Summer 1994 or 1995 - before the world came to Atlanta in 1996. I am holding the blue pool noodle.
In the middle of third grade, I decided I was DONE with bangs. For ten months, I didn't cut my bangs. I was also losing my teeth at this time, and there are thankfully only a few photos documenting this time in my life. (This was before everyone had digital cameras.) Ten months in, I decided I'd had enough of growing my bangs out and asked my stylist to make my hair all one length. She complied.

Once the bangs were gone, the time between haircuts increased, and I started having longer hair. In high school, I decided I wanted to donate my hair to Locks of Love, and in 2008, I finally did it. I did it again in 2011.

Since my last donation, I have started running regularly, so a ponytail has been a must for me. I also wanted to have long hair for my wedding, so the haircut was delayed. Now, with summer on the way, a short haircut is incredibly appealing.

Two weeks ago, I booked my haircut with Wayne, who is well known in Dirty Natty as an excellent hair stylist. I started my research for where to donate my hair by looking at the St. Baldrick's Foundation Website. (To be brief, St. Baldrick's raises money to fund childhood cancer research. One of their popular fundraisers involves people--"Shavees"--committing to shave their heads to stand in solidarity with childhood cancer patients. Several men I know have been Shavees, and one of my students was a Shavee in 2014.) St. Baldrick's recommends several organizations, but I quickly narrowed my possibilities to two--Pantene Beautiful Lengths and Children With Hair Loss--because they only require eight inches to donate. My hair could not quite tolerate ten or twelve inches--some of my worst fights with my mother have been results of short haircuts--and I did not want to keep my long hair through the summer.

I did some investigation of both organizations, but what really sold me was my hairdresser telling me that the "real hair" wigs are primarily used by children now because the synthetic wig options for women are actually pretty great now. I was reminded of the "Lice" episode of The Office, which Ariel and I watched last weekend, and the subsequent episodes where Meredith wears several different wigs. I also liked that CWHL uses the term "medically related hair loss" because that means their donations encompass children with cancer, Alopecia, burns, and even Trichotillomania.
 My mom has a major meltdown every time I donate my hair, but I am excited about my new do! This is the first time my donation has left me with enough hair for a ponytail--I wanted to be able to pull my hair back for running--and I am looking forward to making another donation in a few years. I always have the attitude that it's just hair, and it will grow back. Plus, similar to donating blood, my contribution will make a huge difference for someone. Now I just have to remember to put sunscreen on the back of my neck. As much as I like the song "Redneck Woman," I don't want a red neck.

Happy Wednesday!

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