Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Meditation on Hair Loss

To be brutally honest, I adore my own hair. I feel that it is one of my most attractive features. I love it without reservation. Sometimes I have been known to pause while I am driving to work and admire the way it smells nice and sparkles in the sunlight, despite the fact that if I have passengers, this inevitably opens me up to ridicule. I started growing out my hair in eighth grade, largely due to the fact that I was tired of people asking if I was a boy or a girl. It used to be lighter, but under certain circumstances I think it still qualifies as "blonde," (although I may have just removed most of the qualifying parts on Friday). Since then, I have established a hair life cycle that goes like this:

Grow out hair. Time passes.
Complain about heat in summer, threaten to cut hair. Fail to cut hair.
Complain about unruliness of hair, yet admire it at the same time. Keep it restrained, usually in braid form.
Start talking about donating hair. Drive people around crazy by not going through with it for at least a year.
Finally cut hair and send it to worthy organization.


The first time I did this was July, 2006, sending off 12+ inches of hair. My mother had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and had lost all of her hair after chemotherapy (you can actually see her bald head in the background of the picture below), but I'd actually been thinking about cutting my hair and sending it to a charity for quite a while. The charity I chose was Wigs for Kids, because they provide "hair replacement systems to children under the age of 18 who have lost their hair as a result of medical treatments, health conditions, or burn accidents."

Me and My Severed Part 

A lot of people don't realize that it takes hair donations from many people (as many as 30, according to Wigs for Kids) to make one wig for someone who has lost their hair. In addition, though they vary from organization to organization, the requirements for donation are fairly stringent: donated hair must meet a minimum length; cannot be permed, color-treated, or highlighted; and should have less than a certain percentage of grey. If you, or someone you know, fits this description, I strongly encourage you to think about donating your hair. As much as I love my hair, I know it's a renewable resource for me, and that there are plenty of people out there, children and adults, for whom this is not the case. Hair, or the lack of it, contributes a lot to how we view ourselves. Our society is not very good about treating people nicely when we think they might be sick or disabled. We certainly aren't that kind to balding men. But enough preaching, let's get to the before and after photos from last week:


I felt, after four years of growing (with occasional trims of 1 inch or so to keep it healthy), that it was finally time to donate again. I had them cut off about 10+ inches, and I am donating it to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, which "encourages women and men to grow, cut, and donate their hair to make real hair wigs for women who have lost their hair due to cancer treatments."


Additional observations:

My hair is amazingly flippy at this length.
I have a phantom braid/ponytail that I keep trying to lift out of my shirt when I get dressed or brush aside when I go to the drinking fountain.
I hardly have enough hair to admire without looking in the mirror. COMMENCE GROWING PROJECT.
I waited until there would be enough hair left (after cutting 10 inches) to keep putting it up, since that is how I prefer to wear my hair. However, I have nicknamed the resulting effect "Stumpy," because that's what I've got to work with.

Helpful sites:

3 comments:

jpetroroy said...

More evidence that Anna is awesome. I'm so happy you do this.

rachelnk said...

Inspiration to all of us with fantastic hair to share our shining, flowing tresses with others.

Steph said...

i don't think i have ever seen pictures of you with short hair like this! have i? anyway. you look awesome with short or long hair. for some random reason i thought of you today and popped on your facebook page to look for updates on the baby. SO.CUTE.