Ending 2018 With Donating My Hair

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Ending 2018 With Donating My Hair

Photo by Iris Tsouris.

Photo by Iris Tsouris.

Photo by Iris Tsouris.

Iris Tsouris, Staff writer

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In one way or another, we’re all pressured to end the year with a bang. Every year, it is a constant scramble to make one final testament to the year before the transition to the next. This year, however, the testament I made came in the form of something more unassuming; in December of 2018, I got a haircut.

I’ve always had a somewhat difficult relationship with my hair, so making the big chop was a daunting task regardless. What did differentiate this haircut from the rest was that I was planning to donate at least eight inches of my hair to Children With Hair Loss, a foundation that focuses on providing wigs to children in need.

This idea first came to me around September, around the same time my sophomore year began. In the midst of cross country season, I kept finding that the frequent showers and limited time were making it harder to style my already difficult-to-manage hair. For the entire first semester, my hair stayed in the same low bun, a personal “hair prison” of sorts.  

During this same time, I watched a YouTube video made by Cut, a company that I believe is the elevated, better version of Buzzfeed. The video centered on a young woman with alopecia, who was sharing her experiences with a group of kids. Although she rocked her baldness, what really stuck with me was her saying how hard it was to have alopecia as a child.

Although we may not think about it a lot, hair is important. Like art or fashion, expressing ourselves through our hair can often be empowering. And although I am a firm believer that sporting baldness or a shaved head is beautiful, I don’t have an issue with anyone that chooses to wear wigs in order to feel more comfortable. My cousin, who suffered from hair loss due to chemotherapy, would often wear wigs for that reason. She served as a source of inspiration when I made the decision to donate.

However, it was also the constant negligence of my own hair that was the deciding factor in this decision. In my family, straightening our hair is almost a custom; our curly and coarse Mediterranean hair genes are not easily embraced. Being ashamed of the natural, frizzy hair that grew out of my head was a feeling that I had grown accustomed to, so much so that it made me feel guilty. At the time, I viewed my hair as a burden, and it bothered me to know that there were other people that most likely would not. The natural impulse was to give it away, so I started doing research about different hair donation centers and the Atlanta salons that partnered with them.

The most popular donation center is probably Locks of Love, but it has a shady reputation for overpricing wigs and selling hair that can’t be used. I decided to turn to Pantene Beautiful Lengths next, only to see that their program was actually closing on the last day of 2018. Because I didn’t fit the 14 inch requirement for Wigs for Kids, I ended up going with Children With Hair Loss, which is a nonprofit based in Michigan and has an eight inch donation requirement. Children With Hair Loss additionally has a variety of partner salons throughout Atlanta, one of which is the Colour Bar Salon in Sandy Springs, the place where I donated my hair at.  

Although I expected that donating my hair would be a wholesome way to give back to my community, I didn’t know that it would also help heal my deteriorating relationship with my own head of hair. Making the big chop was almost like a fresh start for the new year, and it gave me a chance to embrace my hair by breaking my dependance on the same low, constricting bun that I wore last semester.

Recently, I received confirmation at the end of January that my donation had been shipped and was in the process of being turned into a wig. It is incredibly surreal to imagine that someone in the future will be wearing my hair; frankly, it is also incredibly fulfilling.

This is a pattern that I’m hoping will set a precedent for 2019. This year, I’m definitely planning to grow my hair out again so that I can donate again in December. With this experience, I’ve realized how important it is to establish a regular, steady routine of helping others in any and every possible way, whether it be in the form of donating hair or something else.