I Chopped Off a Foot…Twelve Inches of Hair

Image from Pantene's Website

I keep waiting to feel sad, but it’s just not happening.  My friends who’ve already done this warned me that I’d be sad.  I’ll cry, they cautioned, it will take awhile to get used to the change.  The latter part is true for sure, but not in a negative way.  I’m chronically squeezing out too much shampoo and then too much conditioner.  As someone raised as a Lutheran Scot in the Midwest, I definitely feel guilty about that waste, but not sad.

A week and a one-half ago, I cut off twelve inches of hair which I donated to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths Program.  This program’s mission is to provide wigs to women who lose their hair due to cancer treatments.  (I considered donating to Locks of Love, which makes wigs for children.  However, most LoL recipients suffer from alopecia and cancer is a more personal cause for me and my family.  I looked into both organizations and both are solid causes.)  The last time my hair was this short, I still had baby teeth and Mr. Reagan was clamoring for Mr. Gorbachev to “tear down that wall.”  It’s clearly been awhile.  I did maintain enough length that my hair is roughly at my shoulders and I can pull it back into a perky (short) little ponytail.  Still, it feels kind of crazy.  I reach back to touch it all the time, to make sure it’s there, but it’s also not all there.

The process of donating hair was really easy and straightforward.  Grow hair for a long time (can’t be colored or chemically treated), put hair in a ponytail or two, cut off ponytail(s), mail ponytail(s).  Some salons comp haircuts when the hair is being donated, so if you plan to donate yours it’s worth asking.  You’ll need to mention it anyway, so that they cut it off properly.  Mine doesn’t, but it was important to me that someone who knows me and my hair cut it off for me.  (Incidentally, now that Big Chop is over, I’m breaking up with my stylist.  I’m done with her chronic tardiness and I don’t ask for anything special that I can’t get elsewhere.)  I did send my hair registered mail, although that probably was unnecessary.  It’s just that the postal service in my city is pretty lousy and it would make me so sad if they lost my hair.  So much sadder than the time they lost the cupcake stationary my dad sent me as a treat.

My hair is now twelve inches, a full foot, shorter and I’m growing it back out.  I don’t intend to donate right away, but will probably do so again at some point in the future.  It’s been such a long time since my hair was this “short” that I’m also considering trying new things.  I bought my first blowdryer since 1999; options abound.  When I do a bad job with those options, I plan to focus on how pretty I am on the inside.

All told, for me, this was only a positive experience, although I do have friends who donated and felt a little sad over the change.  The haircut I have now isn’t my ideal, and especially as a woman, that sort of thing could be upsetting.   Add in not being used to “doing” it – aka why I can still pull mine into a ponytail – and well, it could be upsetting.  Fortunately for me, I’m a little apathetic about those sorts of things.  I knew that while I wanted to donate as much length as I could, I would be a lot happier if I still could pull back what was left.  (Working out with my hair in my face is not a happy thing.)  It seems so petty and vain to write that, but it’s good to know one’s limits and how to keep oneself content.  Donating hair was a lot more personal to me than donating blood.  Someone will literally have my DNA on their head.  And you know what?  It makes me glad.  Hair is dead and these women are survivors.


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