With the new school year underway and picture day quickly approaching, students are more conscious about their image than ever. Malvern C.I. students are no strangers to pressure from the media to conform to a certain image; skinny, long haired-girls and tall, muscular boys. After my years at Malvern, I’ve seen it all. The clothes everyone has to wear, the Blackberrys that most of my classmates use, and the ever-popular long hair that hasn’t been cut in what seems like decades. I used to be one of those girls with long, thick blonde hair, but by habit you could say, I recently cut off 10 inches.
When I was 9, I read an article about a woman who had cut off over a foot of her hair and donated it to a charity called Continental Hair. They accept non-treated hair, which they use to make wigs for children who have lost their hair due to cancer treatment. I was immediately pulled in by the allure of helping a person, especially a child, who had to live with cancer. It takes three to four donations of 10 inches or more to complete a wig. This past July marked my fourth time cutting my hair, so at least one wig has been made with the help of my donations.
Deciding to cut my hair this time around was by far the hardest of the cuts to make. I had the long hair look that teenage girls dream of and I had graduation and prom pictures to consider. Stepping away from that ideal look, I thought about what it would mean for a child going through therapy to no longer be bullied about being bald and to be able to look like their peers. I can’t remember a time during my childhood when I ever cared what other people thought about how I looked. But I wasn’t going through hair loss. For me, cutting my hair was temporary. Giving a child the freedom to be themself by cutting a foot of my hair, which will grow back, is such a minor sacrifice.
Today, along with another of my classmates who cut her hair, I walk the halls of my high school content with my decision to once again, give a child a chance to be themselves.
Danielle Clifford recently went from having long hair to a pixie cut to donate it for cancer. “I love it! I’m never having long hair again,” she said.
I wish I saw more students ignoring high school society norms and donating their hair for cancer. Until then I will keep growing my hair out and cutting it for kids with cancer.