My hair has always been one of my best qualities. The main compliment I always received was something along the lines of “you have the most gorgeous hair!” Which meant that compliment was almost always followed by “never cut it.” And for a long time I never even considered doing such a thing.
My hair became a safety blanket; something I would hide behind because I knew people thought it was pretty. I never pulled it back, it was always in my face. It became had to manage and a bottle of shampoo would only last me three washes. But I was lucky, I had the kind of hair people paid money for. It was completely natural (I never dyed it) so it was really healthy and thick. People compared my hair to a Disney princess’ and for me, my hair is what gave me confidence… or did it?
People define confidence in different ways: what makes you feel powerful, beautiful, strong… for me, it gave me the kind of “confidence” that meant I could hide behind it and still feel like I could be acceptable. In high school, I was very insecure. I had incredibly low self-esteem issues and I think my hair was a factor. I based my self-worth off of what other people thought of me, so cutting my hair made me feel like I wouldn’t be thought of a pretty anymore. It sounds ridiculous, but its true! We all have something about ourselves that, if taken away from us, we wouldn’t feel beautiful, confident, or acceptable in society’s eyes. My something was my hair.
It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I wanted a change. I had just gone through a breakup and was going through my first true heartbreak and I lost all ideas that I was “good enough.” I just felt like no matter what I did, nothing would make me feel okay again. Again, I had some major self-esteem issues like many high school girls (and guys) do and it was breaking me down.
But then I took a class my second semester of senior year about comedy and humor, mainly because I didn’t have anything else to take and it seemed easy. I figured I could skate by without being noticed and just survive the rest of my time in high school. The class was taught by a man who was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer, and I didn’t realize it then he would change my whole life. He taught a few english classes including one class about death and dying which I thought was a little odd considering what he was going through. And while I learned a little about comedy, I learned a lot more about life in general. Here he was getting up day in and day out with this deadly illness but making the most of his life. He had the biggest heart and laughed so much that it made me realize how lucky I am to be alive and healthy. He put everything into perspective. Why was I putting my life on hold for people who didn’t deserve my time? Why was I hiding when I have so much to offer? In a way, I think he saved me in more ways than one, but that’s a whole different post all together.
So one day I decided I didn’t want to hide anymore. I didn’t just want to survive, I wanted to live and I just wasn’t. I wanted to live the kind of life my teacher was despite everything he faced. It was a very quick decision. I called up my hairdresser and asked if she had any openings and as luck would have it she could take me right then. She didn’t know what I had planned so when I got there, she asked me several times: “are you sure?” and “but your hair is so pretty!” But that was the point. I didn’t want to think about it, I didn’t want time to talk myself out of it, I just wanted it done. So she grabbed a ruler, measure out the requirements and asked me again: “are you sure?” And then I
panicked. Was I sure? Was I ready to let go of my identity? The think that kept me safe and hidden? But then I reminded myself: it’s only hair. So I said yes, and she cut it off. The photos don’t quite do justice to how much of my hair was actually cut off. Because my hair is so thick, it ended up being almost 3 inches about where it was tied off, and the 6 inches I was expecting to be off turned into 9 inches, but again: its just hair. Then it was done. My hair was gone. I couldn’t hide anymore, and I was okay with it. Of course I had the regret about 2 hours later, but it went away pretty fast. I realized that my hair will grow back. Its not going to be short for the rest of my life. But not only that, I was giving away what made me feel safe to someone else who needed it more than I did. Now that I’m thinking about it, its sort of like that story in the Bible. My hair is what gave me strength and I worried that without it, I wouldn’t be confident. But when it was cut, I realized someone else needed more strength now, and I was giving them mine. Hair is only hair, it will grow back. And giving it to someone who couldn’t grow it on their own made me realize how lucky I am. If my hair could make me feel happy and beautiful, surely it could do the same for someone else. I donated my hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, and a few months later I got a letter in the mail letting me know they had received my donation, and it had been made into a wig for a women battling cancer. I think that’s when it really hit me that my contribution was helping another woman feel strong, and that’s all I really wanted. My hair made me feel happy and beautiful once, and now it was someone else’s turn to feel that way too.
Would I do it again? Absolutely. I think it is a great way to help other who are suffering by giving them a part of you that shows your support. If you’re on the fence about doing it, I say go for it. Giving back is one of the most amazing things you can do. And knowing there is a woman out there rocking and looking and feeling her best with my hair is what makes this worth it. The fact that I was able to help a woman struggling with cancer and hair-loss makes this worth it. Helping people, to me, is the most important thing you can do, so why not help out someone who needs it? Yes, it is a big change and it is something you will need to get used to. Will there be moments you regret cutting it? Maybe. Will there be times you regret giving to someone who needs it more than you? Absolutely not. I highly suggest you to do this if you can. Pantene Beautiful Lengths is an amazing organization that I urge you to check out whether or not you decide to do this. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me!
Change is a good thing! And remember: its just hair and confidence is an inside job.
Love you all,